Blackening Is The Perfect Way To Give Mild Tilapia A Spicy Upgrade

When you're in the mood for a delicate, simple piece of protein, fish is often the first choice. Milder types, such as tilapia, are tame in terms of flavor, yet they can easily show a bolder side. Blackened tilapia, for example, is known to have a rich and spicy taste, which comes from how it's prepared.

Blackening is the perfect way to achieve a spicy upgrade. It's a traditional Cajun technique that involves rubbing fish or chicken with butter, and flavoring it with an assortment of seasonings. Coated in an abundance of herbs and spices, your next meal of mild tilapia will prove itself to have more depth than we usually give it credit for. To get the color, it takes more than just salt and pepper; employ paprika, brown sugar, thyme, onion powder, dried oregano, or a homemade Cajun spice mix.

Pan-seared on medium-high heat, the spices caramelize, lending the fish an incredible depth of flavor. The tilapia transforms from white to a reddish-brown color, spotted with flecks of black that give it its name. Blackened tilapia tastes best when served with other dishes that match its resonant flavor. In her blackened pan-seared tilapia dish, recipe developer Jennine Rye pairs the fish with bright mango salsa. It's the perfect complement to any vibrant side; read ahead for more ideas on what to eat with blackened tilapia.

Serve blackened tilapia with these flavorful side dishes

As a decidedly Southern dish, Cajun andouille hush puppies are a foolproof side for blackened tilapia. But these aren't your regular hush puppies: Featuring flecks of spicy andouille sausage and a sprinkling of Cajun seasoning, the delicate, fluffy treats complement the richness of the tilapia. With both recipes striking the perfect balance between a crispy coating and tender interior, a ramekin of creamy coleslaw is all you need to make this meal impeccable.

Blackened tilapia works well with bright, citrus flavors and this lemon-roasted fennel is no exception. While the sweet, spiced flavor of fennel is a natural complement to the brown sugar in the blackened fish, the lemon brings a lightness to both recipes, adding a layer of zesty flavor. Roasted with garlic and olives, this elegant dish is surprisingly easy to prepare.

Speaking of citrus, the lime in this Cuban black beans recipe provides tilapia with a slightly sweetened tartness. Made with garlic, green peppers, and oregano, the beans have a delicious herbaceous taste that enhances the blackened tilapia while still allowing it to shine. Serve them together on a bed of cilantro rice, and the crisp tilapia will pair well with the tender beans and fluffy rice.