Friday 1 July 2011


Whole fish: love it or hate it. I belong to the fish loving faction and the sight of a whole fish excites me. I know that some people dislike coming face to face with the food that they eat but that's just because they are not used to it.

This is the kind of food Orientals love: whole fish on the bone. There's nothing like it. I know that fillet is the the simplest and safest way to go but the fish bones gives a lot of taste to the flesh of the fish as it cooks. Just imagine how much taste it gives water when you boil it for stock. That's how much taste it gives to the fish when cooked whole. 

Tilapia has very few bones that are big and easy to pick. If you've never tried whole fish, this would make a good entry point. This is a quick and easy dish to make and is ideal for sharing. All you need is a simple vegetable side dish to complete the meal. 


1 whole tilapia, cleaned and scaled
2 1/2 tsps. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsps. of oil
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 tbsps. butter
1 tbsp. chopped red chillies
3 tbsps. chopped parsley


Cut slashes across the tilapia in opposite directions to make diagonal patterns. 

Squeeze the juice of the lemon on the tilapia and rub with 1 tsp. of the crushed garlic, pushing it well into the cuts. Slice half of the squeezed lemon and stuff in the stomach cavity of the fish. 

Season with salt and pepper on both sides. 

Fry the rest of the garlic in the cooking oil until golden brown. Skim off the garlic and set aside. 

Drizzle the oil (used for frying garlic) on both sides of the fish. Transfer to a non stick baking dish or line the dish with a non stick liner or baking parchment. 

Bake at 400° F/ 200° C, turning over at half time for 20-30 minutes or until done. The fish may also be grilled on a barbecue. To test, poke the thickest part of the flesh with the tip of a knife. If it is soft and comes away from the bone easily, then it is done.

Spread the 3 tbsps. butter on top of the fish and sprinkle with the toasted garlic. Sprinkle with the chopped chillies and parsley. 

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  1. Yum this looks really delicious. I love oven bake whole fish too, as long as the fish is fresh it always works out. I love your mix of seasoning, I can see how those red chilies would work with the tilapia - wish I could have this tonight :)

  2. Wow, this looks fabuliscious! I love the addition of homemade crisped garlic to the soft fish.

  3. I would make kamay if I see this on the table. I love toasted garlic on anything... and please reserve the head for me... haha that's the best part that I always get!

  4. This looks so fresh and delicious Adora! The warmer weather always gets me in the mood for fish! This looks awesome!


  5. U got me excited too! I like ordering Tilapia at restaurants esp those that come with crispy beans :)

  6. Beautiful baked tilapia! I always cook fish in whole and my fav parts are the head and the bones at both sides! So whenever there's fish cooked at home or dine out, my family and in-laws sure will let me have the fish head. I can finish it up very cleanly! LOL

  7. What a simple yet delicious fish dish! Looks beautiful too! I have seen those "fish" plates before and now you really made me want to buy after seeing this dish. It fits so well!

  8. Looks amazing - I love the toasted garlic and sprinkle of red chilis! I don't understand people who freak about having the head on - whole fish makes a beautiful presentation.

  9. I have to say I would never eat tilapia, but your recipe is awesome and will have to try with halibut sounds wonderful!

  10. Beautiful! So simple and so fresh.

  11. By the looks of this and the other fish posts, you are making me very hungry. Great fish recipes. Thanks for sharing.

  12. I think after reading this, I just may have to make a whole fish for myself! Love the flavors for this one =)

  13. Delish! I just love Tilapia and I love lemon with fish! :)

  14. i like the simplicity of this dish. Even though i don't eat fish, i am sure those who do would really like this.

    your presentation is superb!

    -Abeer @

  15. Tilapia is my favorite fish. Whether it's fried or steamed, it has a lot of flavor. I've never tried it with toasted garlic but that's something I need to explore. Thank you for sharing this dish Adora! :)

  16. Hi Adora! I cooked this baked tilapia last night for dinner and it tasted very good (except a little too sour for us) and my elder gal love it so much! ;D
    I'll sure cook this again but half the amount of lemon juice. ;)


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