Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia Fillets with Cocktail Sauce Recipe

Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia Fillets with Cocktail Sauce Recipe

Tilapia might suffer from mild neglect in the States.


It is so underrated! I suspect one of the reasons is because tilapia raised in China gets a reputation for being farmed quite recklessly, and in less than sanitary conditions. But we can still enjoy tilapia from all other sources.

Tilapia is economical, versatile and flavorful: there’s nothing I don’t do with it!

This is one of the few recipes I fry, and it is a real treat. For a crust, I find cornmeal gives matzah meal a good shove. The crust you obtain using it is much more flaky and tender (I’ll bet our gluten-free friends are happy to hear this!) The cocktail sauce is a snap to make.

Tilapia has two halves, marked right down its center:

A thinner half, and a thicker half. This is why I prefer to halve the fillets, so each half cooks no longer than its thickness requires. Likewise, look for larger fillets, 7 to 9 ounces each, they are moist and meaty.

There’s plenty of room to play with this recipe: any other kind of milk can be substituted for the coconut milk, including buttermilk for a dairy treat; other herbs and spices (oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, etc); other nice thick white flesh fish fillet can be substituted for tilapia (cod, scrod, bass etc)

PS: I have a baked version of this dish. Take a look!


  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 large tilapia fillets, cut in half lengthwise (you will end up with 12 pieces total), thoroughly dried with paper towels
  • 1 cup fine cornmeal
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon curry, or less to taste
  • 5-6 sprigs parsley, leaves and stems, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cocktail sauce:

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Store refrigerated in a glass jar.

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup white horseradish
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2-3 tablespoons bottled hot sauce



Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan. Place the corn meal in a dish. In another dish, mix the coconut milk, eggs, curry, parsley, salt and pepper. Lightly roll each filet in cornmeal, shaking off the excess, then in the coconut milk mixture, letting excess liquid drip back onto the dish. When the oil starts to sizzle, lower the heat slightly and add the coated fillets, avoiding crowding them so as not to lower the temperature. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side, until golden and crisp. Remove the fillets with a slotted spatula, and transfer to a platter lined with layers of paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Serve alone or with cocktail sauce

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