Tilapia is no doubt one of the most controversial fishes out there, at a point the fish was labeled “unhealthy because of the fish farms they were harvested in, but as of today, there are many well-managed farms that produce healthier tilapia fishes.
The preparation of tilapia is very easy and straightforward, you do not need to be a professional to get a hang of it, and the easiest way I’ve found to prepare tilapia is preparing it with my oven. However, things become trickier when you cook them at high temperatures like 400°F, so I would be answering the most asked question which is “how long do I need to cook tilapia at 400?”.
I’ve made a table indicating how long you need to cook tilapia in the oven at different temperatures, but before we get into that, let us look at a few tips to help improve how you cook tilapia.
Tilapia Nutrition Facts
Tips to Cook Tilapia in the Oven
Tilapia is super easy to cook in the oven, but just like every other fish out there, there is some process you need to be aware of. Follow these tips to get the best tasting oven grilled tilapia.
Clean and descale the fish – before you even get started on cooking tilapia, you need to clean it just like every other fish. While cleaning, descale the fish by using the blunt side of a knife and rubbing it against the flow of the scales on the fish. This is an important step in the preparation of tilapia because most tilapia fishes come from unhealthy environments.
Score the fish – after cleaning and descaling the fish, the next step would be to score the fish. Why you need to score the fish is because it helps the marinade penetrate through the fish, ensuring you have a well-flavored fish. Using a sharp knife, make small slices on each side of the fish, and also make a long cut along the belly of the fish.
Marinate the fish – marinating the fish is key. If you do not marinate the fish, you would have an unflavored tilapia dish. What you use to make your marinade is completely up to you, but you should consider making a spicy marinate. Another thing to do is to fry your marinate in coconut oil because frying will cause the marinade to caramelize, which will intensify the flavor of the marinade, but if you do this, you should allow the marinate cool before using it. Apply the marinade on the fish, make sure you rub it into the scores in the fish, and also marinate the inside of the fish through the cut you made on the belly of the fish.
Allow fish rest – just like cooked steak, resting the tilapia would make it more flavorful and juicy. Place the fish in a bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. The longer you leave the fish to rest, the better, so I would recommend leaving it in your fridge overnight so the marinade gets enough time to penetrate through the fish.
Preparing your oven – to reduce your cooking time significantly, you should prepare your oven beforehand. Grease your oven rack with cooking oil, also preheat your oven to 400. Some home ovens are not properly calibrated, so you should get a thermometer to help you detect the temperature of the oven.
Flip the fish – while cooking in the oven, you should flip the fish over at least once. You should also apply more marinade and cook for 10 minutes on one side, flip over, apply some more marinade, and cook the second side for another 10 minutes
Garnishment is essential – after a well-cooked tilapia, you need a beautiful presentation too. I use some chopped bell peppers as garnishes, but you can use whatever you’re comfortable with. Garnishing your tilapia not only gives it a beautiful look but also contributes to the flavor of the final dish.
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Cooking Time for Tilapia in Oven
|Oven Temperature||Cooking Time|
|400°f||12 to 15 minutes|
- Preheat your oven to 400 until it becomes hot
- Clean and descale the fish, also pat the fish fry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
- Using a sharp knife, create incisions across the fish, the scores will allow the fish to get more flavor from the marinade
- Make a quick rub with equal part salt, and equal part crayfish stock powder, rub-down the tilapia, make sure you get the seasoning into all the cuts on the fish, allow the fish to rest while you make a sauce
- To your food processor add some spring onions, red chili, green chili, ginger, garlic, onion, and scotch bonnet, also add some water and blend everything until it becomes a fine paste.
- Heat some vegetable oil in a pan, pour in the sauce, and cook for 10 minutes to caramelize it.
- To the sauce, add some curry powder, dry thyme, salt, and crayfish powder, stir the sauce properly to incorporate, and cook for some minutes.
- Remove the heat from the sauce, when it is cool, apply it all over the tilapia, you can use your hand or a brush to get the sauce into the cavities of the fish
- Also, stuff the fish with some spring onions and fresh thyme for some extra aromatics.
- Transfer the fish to a baking tray and place it in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to serving dishes. Serve alongside any starch of your choice.
- Enjoy your meal.
This delicious oven-baked tilapia dish would be ready in no time, it is also suitable to be served to friends and family on special occasions too. If you would want to see other tilapia recipe ideas, check out this video recipe.