Inspiration from Meghan

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Mediterranean Tilapia


When I was 12 years old, I was at the mall with my best friend at the time, Carolyn, and we each bought two gold fish. I named mine Casey and Finnigan (a la Mr. Dressup) and Carolyn named hers Jerry and Garcia- she was clearly way cooler than me. By the time we got home, one of Carolyn's fish had already died. Mine wouldn't die. After the fish bowl filled up with poop, I gave the the fish to my parents to take care of. There the goldfish had their home on our kitchen counter- a little glass bowl with a few marbles at the bottom.

Apparently goldfish get cannibalistic and eventually one ate the tail and fins of the other and so we flushed the amputee. The one originally named Casey who later had his name removed as punishment for eating Finnigan, just wouldn't die. I used to have parties in high school and people would play catch the fish, drop chips into the bowl or see how long the little guy could handle a beer bath. When we would go on holidays, we had fish sitters take care of it. At long last, ten years after that fateful mall purchase, the fish blew it's last bubble and was found floating at the top of the bowl. He had grown too big to flush and so into a cigar box he went. All the neighbours came out for the burial. There were some balloons, a little gravestone and some gold fish crackers at the burial site near the fire hydrant (my dad thought he'd want to be close to water). That was the first and last pet I ever owned.

It is very rare these days that I eat fish. The fish that I have an appetite for continue to become fewer as the selection process becomes more complicated. Do we want wild or organic? Pacific or Atlantic? Is eating tuna worse for our health or worse on the sustainability factor? Do we choose fish that are less healthy but caught  closer to home or choose fish that are less at risk but come from further away?

I avoid farmed fish, though if for whatever reason I had no choice, I'd go with organically farmed versus conventionally farmed as the latter are often fed fishmeal (see cannibal fish story above) or given colouring to make, for example, pink salmon pinker. Organically farmed fish may still be fed a diet that is not natural to them, but at least there would be less synthetic stuff used. Ideally, I'll choose a sustainable, health supportive, wild variety caught as close to home as possible. This is why I end up eating lentils and squash. So much simpler.

Here is a guide and link to help you out in making mindful fish choices.


Mediterranean Tilapia

Prep time:

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Yield: 2

  • 2 tilapia filets
  • ½ onion, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs grapeseed oil or olive oil
  • 1 Tbs dried basil (or 2 Tbs fresh chopped)
  • 1 Tbs dried parsley (or 2 Tbs fresh chopped)
  • Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

Make It Like So
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Use either a baking dish like a pyrex with a lid, cover a dish in foil or line a dish with foil which you will cover with another piece. Avoiding the foil is ideal.
  3. Lay the fish fillets in the center, in a single layer.
  4. Mix together the onion, tomato, balsamic, oil, parsley, basil, and salt
  5. Spoon mixture over fish and allow excessive to pool beside fish. We’ll be steaming the fish with this cooking method so the extra liquid is helpful.
  6. Cover the dish either with the lid, or secure foil around it.
  7. Place in oven for about 20-25 minutes until fish flakes apart easily.



10 Responses to “Mediterranean Tilapia”

  1. Ashley said…
    I love your fish story!!! What a resilient little fish! I'm actually really afraid of fish as a result of an experience in my childhood and then another experience later on in life. Experience #1: My dad used to be the manager at a pet store and as a result started a really cool fish tank at home. He had a lot of fish in there and one day he brought home an albino catfish who was very big and turned out to be a bully (not unlike Casey) He was the Texas Chainsaw Massacre fish and proceeded to kill all the other fish in the tank. Finally my father had had enough, and decided to flush him. That big ugly thing "walked" back up the toilet!!! I was six years old and I watched this whole thing happen and it was absolutely terrifying. #2: Went through most of life with a huge fear of fish until I had to housesit for a friend. She had 3 cats and a huge tank of fish. Before she left we sat down and she coached me through feeding these things every day. She also had an eel. His name was E-L. EL didn't come out much but one day I noticed him hanging out at the bottom of the tank with a white spot on his backside. (He was a black eel) I thought to myself that perhaps he had always had the white spot... ummm no. I came home that night to find EL "petrified" and lying at the bottom of the tank, COMPLETELY WHITE. I started hysterically crying and had to call the neighbor to fish him out. You seem a little less traumatized by your fish experiences in life, and I applaud you for being able to include them in your diet.
  2. Great story!! I think your names were cooler though! haha Poor tortured fishie that wouldn't die! haha It's amazing the will some beings have to just keep living. The best type of fish to eat is straight out of the lake near my hometown in Northwestern Ontario- so beautiful, so natural, so tasty :-) I miss home. Your Med Tilapia looks really good!!
  3. Leesie said…
    Oh Meghan, what a flood of memories you have brought back for me today! My mom used to get satellite tv in her upstate New York home and she found Mr. Dressup one day and started taping him for my son who was little at the time. We LOVED Mr. Dressup. I was sad to learn that he also passed away around the time my mom did :( Now I have to go back to read the rest of your post about fishy, *smile*
  4. Leesie said…
    As I sat here reading the rest of your fishy, fishy story...and howling...Tilapia happened to be the same fish I was just recently researching myself as I read on another blog about how it eats it's own poop (did you see that one? I think it was The Food Renegade). Turns out it is one of the healthier fish to eat. I remember growing up and spending summers in upstate New York fishing the brooks with my twin brother. We caught tons of huge, beautiful trout, grilled them and ate them with delight. Later, we'd throw the bones in the fire to keep the mosquitoes away. For me, it is such a tragedy what we've done to our own land and the environment and what the government still allows to go on. I am going food shopping later and hope to find some nice tilapia to make this dish. Thanks for sharing your story and this recipe. I wish I was blessed with your writing and story telling skills and is another reason I so thoroughly enjoy your blog ;o)
  5. Meghan Telpner said…
    Leesie- Thanks so much for the complement. Glad you enjoy my silly stories. But what is this about Tilapia eating it's own poop. My goldfish actually did that too and then would spit it out but I thought that a bit too much info for a food blog. Do you have a link about Tilapia being poop eaters? Melissa- Where abouts are you? We have trout up in our lake near the cottage but seeing as how I get motion sick simply sitting on a dock- have never gone so far as to get out in a boat to catch them. I also can't touch worm bits. Ashley- Love your stories! You are hysterical.
  6. Leesie said…
    First off, sorry if I offended or grossed anybody out here. I found the link to the blog that discussed in detail the poop eating aspects of tilapia. Hopefully, if anything, the information will calm you since I dredged this stuff up ;o) Oh, and when I was at the supermarket earlier, I spotted Teff (sandwich) wraps - wheat free and gluten free of course, but I don't know if they were organic and all that healthy as far as ingredients go. I'll have to look closer at them next time I go.
  7. Great story! The recipe sounds delicious too.
  8. I made your recipe using halibut, and all I have to say is; oh my! I've made many dishes similar to this one but none have ever been nearly as tasty as this. Thank you so much for sharing it with us! The scent of this delight can still be found wafting around our home, so yummy...
  9. [...] Mediterranean Tilapia [...]
  10. [...] Mediterranean Tilapia [...]

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