The combination of flavors in fish and grits makes it one of those dishes that everyone loves.
This Southern classic can be enjoyed at any time of year and is always a crowd pleaser.
In this recipe we will show you how to cook Tilapia Fish Fillets on Grits with Cheddar Cheese.
You’ll also learn about the origins of this recipe, what type of grits are used, and how they’re prepared.
We’ve included instructions for cooking both fried and oven-baked versions of this delicious fish and grits combo!
What Type Of Fish Is Used In This Recipe?
Tilapia, cod, halibut, grouper, snapper, or rock bass can all be considered great choices when preparing this Southern classic.
However, if you want to stick with what’s local, choose your favorite variety from the Gulf Coast area.
It should have firm flesh that doesn’t fall apart easily.
Look for fish that has been caught recently since older fish tends to taste more like the sea than fresh seafood.
If you prefer not to use a whole fish, cut fillets into smaller pieces.
What Is The Origin Of This Recipe?
It seems likely that this is an American creation but there aren’t any definitive records of its exact origins.
There are several different variations of this dish around the country and even though no single version may have originated here, we think it’s safe to say that this particular combination was popularized by our Southern cousins.
What Type Of Grits Are Used In This Recipe?
Grits are a staple grain in the South.
They were originally ground from corn kernels that had been dried, hulled, and cracked.
Today, however, most commercial grits are processed from yellow dent corn.
In addition to being versatile, these grains are naturally gluten free and high in protein.
They can be found in either stone-ground or instant varieties.
Stone-ground grits require longer cooking times and produce a creamier texture while instant grits don’t need much preparation before serving and tend to come out of their packaging a little less creamy.
Either way, you get a hearty, thick porridge that lends itself well to adding flavorings and seasonings.
How Are The Fish And Grits Cooked?
There are two ways to prepare this traditional pairing: fried and baked.
If you’d rather go with the fried option, simply coat each piece of fish with flour before frying them in hot oil.
Season the floured fish with salt and pepper and let it sit for 5 minutes before patting off excess flour and placing it back in the skillet.
After 2 minutes, flip the fish over and fry until golden brown on both sides.
Remove from heat and drain on paper towels before serving.
Alternatively, you could bake the fish instead.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Coat each piece of fish with flour seasoned with salt and pepper then place them on the lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the fish flakes under pressure.
Make sure to check on the fish after 10 minutes to avoid overcooking.
Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
Both methods work perfectly fine when preparing this classic Southern dish.
What Other Ingredients Are Used In This Recipe?
You can add just about anything to this dish that appeals to you.
For example, you might pair the fish with tomato sauce or other vegetables such as broccoli or green beans.
Some cooks add bacon bits or sausage links to give the dish additional meatiness.
Or maybe you would enjoy using shrimp or crabmeat instead of the fish.
You can even experiment with different types of cheese.
How Long Does This Recipe Take To Make?
Depending on how large your fish is, you can expect the entire process to take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.
Once you’ve got everything together, you can prep ahead so that you only need to finish up once the guests arrive.
What Is The Nutritional Value Of This Recipe?
Fish is a healthy source of lean protein which helps keep blood sugar levels stable.
While it contains lower amounts of saturated fat compared to red meats, it still supplies plenty of calories.
One 3-ounce portion provides approximately 170 calories and 25 grams of protein.
That means you won’t feel hungry during your next meal!
As far as carbohydrates go, fish is fairly low in total carbs and fiber.
However, you do have some starch options available including rice pilaf and pasta salad.
How Many People Does This Recipe Serve?
You can feed four people 6 ounces of cooked fish per person with half a cup of grits.
Alternatively, you could double the amount of fish and reduce the quantity of grits to 1/3 cup per person.
Is This Recipe Easy Or Difficult To Make?
Making this dish requires minimal effort and takes very little time to complete.
If you already know how to cook fish, you’ll find this recipe quite simple.
Just follow the directions below.
If you haven’t tried cooking fish before, read through the article titled How to Cook Fish to familiarize yourself with basic techniques.
What Are Some Tips For Making This Recipe?
If you plan to cook this dish in the microwave, remember to use nonstick foil liners.
These help prevent sticking and allow you to remove the finished product without having to scrub away any stuck-on residue.
Another tip for successful results is to ensure that your fish isn’t too big.
To test whether your fish is ready to eat, insert a fork into the middle of the largest part of the filet.
When it slides easily along the tines, remove it from the water and set aside.
Let it rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
Once it cools down, you can store leftover fish in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Simply wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and keep it chilled until needed.
- 1 Pot
- 1 Bowl
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup grits
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 tilapia fillets
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Bring water to a boil in a big pot over high heat. Stir in the grits and then cover. Stir occasionally as you lower the heat to medium-low and cook the grits for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they are softened.
- In the meantime, put the Fish Seasoning ingredients in a small basin and stir well. On both sides of the fish, evenly distribute the seasoning mixture and lightly pat the seasoning into the flesh. Heat oil to a hot temperature in a big skillet over medium heat. Fish should be cooked (in batches if necessary) for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until it flakes easily. Cut each fish piece in half down the middle.
- When the cheese and butter are melted, remove the grits from the heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Divide the grits into 4 equal portions, then add 2 pieces of tilapia to each bowl. Serve right away.