Tilapias, more often than not, are not the sustainable seafood solution they are often claimed to be.
Tilapia are harmful invasive species in many parts of the world, such as central America and parts of Africa and Asia. Growing global consumer demand for tilapia provides strong economic incentives to farm these fish in many new locations. It's largely impossible to prevent their escape, leading to invasions.
Without good legislation combating the spread of harmful species like tilapias, invasions will continue to be substantial economic externalities for meals like this farm-raised Honduran tilapia. Good legislation, however, begins with awareness. So in that spirit, invasivore.org presents yet another way to Eat Invasive Species.
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Step 1: Harvest Invasive Tilapia
We of course, suggest harvesting invasive tilapia yourself.
Invasivore.org gives some collection techniques, which we pass on to you here, and a draft distribution map . Other distribution maps and collection locations can be found at the USGS .
Tilapia can be caught with a fishing pole using worms but I’ve also had success with spinners. Other reports bait such as bread-balls, dog food and even bits of hot-dogs.
Cast-nets can be effective in areas where tilapias build nests, which are easy to spot. A tilapia nest looks like a mud volcano or caldera sometimes up to meter across. In the picture, we are setting a gillnet to collect invasive Nile tilapia on the Kafue River, Zambia.
Check local regulations for harvesting regulations.
Step 2: Ingredients:
2 tilapia fillets, about 150g (5 oz) each
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
salt and pepper to taste
Step 3: Directions
Heat olive oil in a large skillet at medium temperature. While the oil heats, lightly coat the tilapia fillets in whole wheat flour. Briefly saute the slivered almonds, then lay the floured fillets directly on top of the almonds (see picture). Drizzle lemon juice and some salt onto the fish and cover with a lid.
Cook for 3-5 min based on thickness of the fillet. The almond slivers should begin to turn brown. Using a wide flat spatula, flip the fillets over while being sure to hold the almonds together with the fish. Cover the skillet again and cook another 3-5 mins, until the thickest portion of the fillet flakes when probed with a fork. Remove the fillets onto serving plates, and drizzle with some more lemon juice.
Step 4: Serving Suggestions
I sprinkled some parsley onto the finished product for show, and added some salt and pepper to taste. I recommend a steam or stir-fry vegetable side dish, which seasonally offers great potential for it’s more eating invasive species. White wine is traditional with a white fish, but I had a Bota Box malbec, which was perfect with the earthy tones of the vegetables and the dark roasted almonds.
If you liked this recipe and our style, Visit invasivore.org for more great ways to Eat Invasive Species.