If you’re wondering how to get your children to eat — or even love — fish, try feeding them this. They’ll think it’s kid-friendly food for them, but I promise you it’s anything but. These tilapia fillets are lightly coated with panko, pan fried to crispy perfection, and served with a tangy garlic and lemon mayonnaise. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best way to transform ordinary tilapia into a seafood sensation.
The great thing about this dish is that you can do most of the preparation ahead of time. Come dinnertime, all you have to do is throw the fish in the frying pan. You can also make a huge batch and freeze some before cooking, which makes for a quick and easy dinner another time. Gotta love two meals for the work of one.
To make these tilapia fingers, simply cut your tilapia fillets in half. Leave the thin sides long and then cut the thicker sides in half on a diagonal so they appear longer.
Next, bread the fish using the three-step breading method: first flour, then eggs, then panko. This will ensure a beautiful and crispy coating that will adhere evenly to the fish.
Lay the fish fingers on a baking sheet and season with them salt and pepper. Looks good already, right?
Coat a non-stick pan generously with olive oil and pan fry until crisp and golden.
Drain any excess oil on paper towels…
Sprinkle with salt, dip in Lemon-Garlic Mayonnaise and enjoy!
My Recipe Videos
Crispy Tilapia Fingers with Lemon-Garlic Mayonnaise
- 2 pounds tilapia fillets
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups panko
- Ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
For the Lemon-Garlic Mayonnaise
- 1 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's or Duke's
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1 lemon
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
For the Tilapia Fingers
- Cut the tilapia into "fingers" by first cutting the fillets in half. Leave the thin sides long, then cut the thicker sides in half on a diagonal so they appear longer.
- Set up three large shallow bowls in an assembly line. Put the flour in the first bowl; the beaten eggs in the second; and the panko in the third.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Dredge the fish fingers in the flour mixture, shaking excess into the bowl so just a light coating remains; dip in the eggs and turn to coat evenly; then dredge in the panko, turning several times to coat evenly. (This can be a messy job...it's best to use one hand for the flour and eggs and the other for the panko.) Set the breaded tilapia fingers on the prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook (this can be done several hours ahead of time).
- Line a plate with 3 paper towels and set by the stove. Coat a large non-stick sauté pan generously with olive oil and place over medium heat. When the pan is hot, place the first batch of tilapia fingers in the pan (do not crowd) and cook until the first side is golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until done, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the fish fingers to the plate with paper towels and let sit for a minute to drain any excess oil. Remove any brown bits out of the pan, add more oil if necessary and continue to cook the fish in batches until done. Season the cooked tilapia fingers with more salt if desired. Serve with lemon wedges and Lemon-Garlic Mayonnaise.
For the Lemon-Garlic Mayonnaise
- Mix the mayonnaise, garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: Lay the tilapia fingers in a single layer and wrap well with aluminum foil. Place in a freezer bag in the freezer. When you're ready to make them, simply defrost them enough so they'll lay flat in the pan and cook as directed above.