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Blackened Pan-Seared Tilapia With Mango Salsa: A Delightful Mix Of Smoky, Spicy, And Fruity Flavors, Perfect For Any Occasion

Tilapia’s popularity has been steadily rising due to its nutritional benefits and lower mercury content compared to other fish. Being a freshwater fish, it’s more accessible for those living inland, and it’s also budget-friendly. If you haven’t tried tilapia yet, consider giving it a shot with this easy and delicious recipe.

This flavorful dish involves blackening the tilapia, a technique where fish fillets are coated with a spice blend and then pan-fried over high heat. This adds a spicy and smoky kick to the fish, making it perfect for milder types of fish that need an extra burst of flavor. To complement the bold taste of the blackened tilapia, the dish is served with a fresh mango salsa that includes blueberries for sweetness and acidity, enhancing the rich and spiced flavors of the fish.

The recipe for Blackened Pan-Seared Tilapia with Mango Salsa offers an exciting combination of flavors and textures. With the blackening spices adding a smoky kick to the tilapia and the mango salsa offering a fruity counterpoint, this dish is bound to be a hit. Here are some highlights:

Why This Recipe Works:

  1. Flavorful Spice Blend: The combination of smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne gives the tilapia a smoky, spicy character that is balanced by the sweetness of brown sugar.
  2. Nutritional Benefits: Tilapia is a lean source of protein and is lower in mercury compared to many other fish. It is complemented by the vitamins and antioxidants in the mango and blueberries.
  3. Freshness Factor: The mango salsa adds a fresh, fruity element that contrasts well with the spicy, blackened fish.
  4. Ease of Preparation: With a total cooking time of just 15 minutes, this dish is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner but still impressive enough for guests.


For the Blackened Pan-Seared Tilapia:

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

For the Mango Salsa:

  • 1 ripe mango, cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 red chili, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime


  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together smoked paprika, brown sugar, flour, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper using a fork until well combined.
  2. Place the tilapia fillets on a large plate and coat them thoroughly in the spice blend, ensuring both sides are covered. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cubed mango, red bell pepper, red onion, blueberries, red chili, cilantro, and lime juice. Gently mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon, being careful not to mash the softer fruits.
  4. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add cooking oil to the pan and then place the tilapia fillets in the pan, skin-side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until the coating is crisp and darkened.
  5. Remove the tilapia fillets from the pan and serve them fresh and hot. Top with a few spoonfuls of the mango salsa.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

  • Calories: 286
  • Total Fat: 9.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.4 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.0 g
  • Cholesterol: 58.0 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 27.6 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4.4 g
  • Total Sugars: 18.6 g
  • Sodium: 359.3 mg
  • Protein: 25.7 g

Additional Tips:

  1. Choosing the Right Pan: The recipe recommends a carbon steel pan for frying the tilapia. These pans are known for excellent heat distribution and retention. A quality non-stick pan can also get the job done if a carbon steel pan is not available.
  2. Side Pairings: While the recipe suggests serving the dish with rice or potatoes, consider also trying it with quinoa or couscous for a healthier alternative. A light green salad would also complement the flavors well.
  3. Adjusting Spice Levels: If you’re sensitive to heat, consider reducing the amount of cayenne pepper or omitting the red chili from the salsa.
  4. Sustainability: While tilapia is generally considered a sustainable option, it’s still a good idea to look for tilapia that has been responsibly farmed or caught.
  5. Quality of Ingredients: As with any dish, the quality of the ingredients will affect the final outcome. Make sure to pick a ripe mango for the salsa and fresh, high-quality tilapia fillets for the best results.
  6. Advanced Prep: You can prepare the mango salsa a few hours ahead to allow the flavors to meld together. Just be sure to keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.

Overall, This dish pairs well with a simple side of rice, potatoes, or a handful of green leaves. The flavorful combination of the blackened tilapia and the fresh mango salsa means you won’t need much else to make it a delicious meal.

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