This stunning Thai tilapia recipe was originally submitted by Alyse Raponi as a main course entry in a recipe contest that we held back in 2014. It has a stunning hue, and a rich flavor to match, but is a quick entrée you can make in minutes on the stove top.
Thai Tilapia made Fast & Easy with a Flavorful Red Curry
We’ve updated this post with more recipe details, like nutrition facts, and also have some quick FAQs to help you customize this dish, as needed.
What is “Regular” Coconut Milk?
It is traditional coconut milk that is high in fat, and comes in cans or small aseptic packages. It’s used in recipes, like this one. Do not use coconut milk beverage, which is sold in larger cartons, and is used for drinking, cereals, and recipes where ordinary milk is needed. Coconut milk beverage would turn this Thai tilapia into more of a soup.
Is there a Substitute for Sriracha?
You can use another hot sauce, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, a dash of cayenne, or simply omit it. Or you can even use more of the curry paste, to taste, in its place.
What is Panang Curry Paste?
It’s a type of red curry paste that’s known as milder and sweeter. It’s fantastic with coconut milk, and is often complemented by peanuts in recipes. Look for brands like Mae Ploy, Aroy-D, or Eastern Blue. Be sure to avoid panang curry sauce, which is a premade sauce with panang that sometimes contains milk. You can also substitute a simple red curry paste in this recipe. The results will be very similar.
How Many Filets of Tilapia will I Need?
You can simply choose four fillets that look like single servings. We based the recipe on four 5-ounce filets, but you might prefer ones that are slightly smaller or a little bigger, which is fine. The sauce should still thicken and coat the fish as shown.
What White Fish are Good Substitutes for Tilapia?
Red snapper, catfish, flounder, and whiting are relatively seamless tilapia substitutes. Thicker white fish, like cod or halibut, can also be used, but you’ll need to cook the filets a little longer. If you’re looking for a higher omega-3 intake, whiting, also called whitefish, is the best option.
Can I use White Rice?
Of course! you can even serve this Thai Tilapia over quinoa or millet if you prefer. Simple cauliflower rice is another option, but it won’t soak up the sauce as well. When we have cauliflower on hand, I sometimes do a 50/50 blend of white rice and cauliflower “rice.”
What Vegetables are Best with Thai Tilapia?
We like bell peppers, broccoli, and/or bok choy best. You can steam the vegetables or gently sauté them. I like to layer the vegetables over the rice, with the saucy fish on top.
Special Diet Notes: Thai Tilapia
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, optionally peanut-free, soy-free, and tree nut-free. Just be sure to choose the curry paste that suits you dietary needs.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ½ tablespoon finely grated ginger
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1⅓ cups coconut milk (regular, full-fat)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon parsley, plus extra for garnish
- 1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon red panang curry paste (can sub red curry paste)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1¼ pounds tilapia fillets or other white fish
- 3 cups cooked brown rice, to serve
- Heat the oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the ginger and garlic, and saute until golden, about 3 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk, paprika, parsley, sriracha, curry paste, and salt to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium. Stir to combine as you bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes to thicken.
- Place the fish into the liquid, spoon the liquid over the fish to coat with the bright red color. Cook until the fish is flaky and can be broken with a fork, about 10 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the fish.
- Serve the fish over brown rice, top with extra sauce, and sprinkle with extra parsley.