Recipes > Pan-Fried Tilapia with Cilantro Orange Cumin Vinaigrette

Pan Fried Tilapia With Cilantro Orange Cumin Vinaigrette


Tilapia, served with a cilantro and orange cumin vinaigrette is garnished with crispy fried capers.
  • Serves: 4
  • Active Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Views: 60,937
  • Success Rating: 96% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Preparing the Vinaigrette

Preparing the Vinaigrette
  • 2 cups freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or olive oil


Juice the oranges. Reduce the juice in a sauce pan set over medium-high heat. Set aside to cool completely.

Heat a small frying pan over medium heat and toast the cumin seeds until fragrant and slightly browned. Once toasted, set aside to cool.

Grind the cumin seeds in a spice or coffee grinder, but not too fine. Transfer the cumin to a food processor. Roughly chop the cilantro. Add the cilantro, salt, cayenne pepper, cumin and orange juice to the blender and blend until smooth. To finish, add the oil and blend for another minute.

Note: Make sure not to add the cilantro while the orange juice is too hot, or it could lose its vibrant green color.

For the tilapia, it is best to serve the vinaigrette at room temperature; however, any remaining dressing can be refrigerated for a day or two and used on salads.

Step 2: Frying the Capers

Frying the Capers
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups grapeseed oil or vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp capers


In a deep-pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and just begins to smoke, carefully add the capers. As soon as you add the capers, you can turn off the heat. The capers will only take a minute or two to crisp up. Once done, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Step 3: Finishing the Tilapia

Finishing the Tilapia
  • 1 to 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp lime juice


Preheat the oven to warm.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the oil.

Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. You may need to pan-fry the fish in two batches depending on the size of the fish and the size of your frying pan. If so, place the cooked fish into the warm oven while you cook the second batch.

Once the oil is hot, add the tilapia presentation-side down and pan-fry for 3 or 4 minutes or until golden brown. Once the tilapia is added to the pan, immediately turn the heat down to medium low. Just before you flip the fish, squeeze a little lime juice over the top.Finish cooking the fish on the other side, squeezing the remaining lime juice over top.

Once the fish is done, transfer to a plate and drizzle a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette over top. Garnish with the crispy fried capers and serve!

Chef's Notes

Tilapia is a delicately flavored white fish that is perfectly complemented by the complemented by the cilantro and orange cumin dressing. The dressing can be served with other white fish, crab cakes or even used on salads.

Tilapia can be substituted with any white fish such as sole, basa, orange ruffi or halibut. If refrigerated, the leftover vinaigrette will keep for a day or two.


  • Jim G
    Jim G
    This was super easy to make and turned out delicious. And it was a totally different meal for our family. I bought 4 frozen talapia fillets for less than $5 which was amazing I thought. The dressing was a breeze with a hand blender - only complaint is that it made way too much dressing - about 7-10 times more than needed. But I actually mixed some with eggs the next morning for breakfast and that was super as well. I wish I followed the rice recipe because I went on my own there and it didn't turn out as I had hoped. Also, I hate capers but did it anyways and they were really nice. My wife hates capers too and these little deep fried salty bites were great. a big thumbs up from me.
  • Dave G
    Dave G
    Tilapia is a great, environmentally sustainable, delicious fish. Never adverse to leftovers, we will be looking for lots of opportunities to make use of the extra sauce. My frying technique wasn't perfect and I had some sticking issues despite testing the temp of the oil before frying. I will use my non-stick next time. I also need to fry the capers a little longer next time. They were yummy, but could have been crisper. A great meal. Even my 3.5 year old said, "I love this fish!" Can't beat that!
  • Jen M
    Jen M
    I made this dish the other night for dinner and it was super easy and delicious, although I couldn't find Tilapia at the supermarket so I had to replace it with Sole fillets. They were really good but very thin so they ended up in very small pieces, smaller than what I would've expected. I also loved the taste of the fried capers, it was a really nice flavor to add to the fish. I wanted to cook something simple (not to many ingredients) and fast and this was the perfect meal. I have to say I'm not a huge fish fan but I can say that this is now one of my favorite dishes. Thanks for the recipe =D
  • Bobi W
    Bobi W
    This is a great, yet easy and quick dish. The dressing is the same as for the mango & shrimp salad on this site, which is also very good. I had already made the salad a few nights before, and had leftover dressing when I noticed this recipe... it was a great way to use more of this delicious dressing and each dish still had it's own taste.
  • Liz F
    Liz F
    We didn't have vegetable oil at the house, but my mother recommended I try to fry the capers with Canola oil. I was a little intimidated by the oil splattering all over my mother's NYC apartment, but the capers were DIVINE. I think the recipe will be almost as tasty without the capers. I can't wait to make this recipe again!
  • Francois G
    Francois G
    Had a great time making it and the taste was both interesting and excellent. I probably used a bit too much cilantro so that the dressing was a little too green perhaps. Otherwise great, with the fried capers being quite a highlight. The overall mix of opposing tastes is quite impressive in this recipe. I don't think I got it quite right but I'm certainly interested in refining that part. For the basmati rice recipe I couldn't find pandan leaves but will try harder next time. As a final note I must say that the tilapia turned out much better than my past attempts where I was using too high a temperature and no lime juice. The cooking procedure in the recipe produces a much more moist texture. Great start for my first rouxbe recipe!
  • Naim S
    Naim S
    I made this recipe this evening and it was very easy to follow. I usually have tilapia once a week and each time I prepare it I like to try different recipes. So when I saw this recipe I had to try it. What I liked about it was that cooking the fish was very standard but the dressing is what made the fish stand out. I made it with brown rice and a salad so after dressing the fish I put some of the dressing on the salad which worked very well. I also have to say that I didn't know how I would like the capers because I've never used them before. I bought a jar of them a few months ago to use in another recipe but never got around to it so this was the perfect opportunity to use them. I really enjoyed their flavor and the crunchy texture worked well with the rice. This is a recipe I will be using it again and I can't wait to try some more recipes listed on rouxbe.
  • Dawn F
    Dawn F
    My comments are merely "tweaks", as this is an excellent dish. Like another reviewer I thought the capers could benefit by a bit longer cooking time. The roasted cumin seeds were too subtle for our tastes, so we added 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin to the finished dressing. This will become a family favorite. Thanks!
  • Tum P
    Tum P
    What kind of salad would go really well with this dressing??? Thank you
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    This dressing is really great with spinach. I make a Latin salad that consists of spinach, pink grapefruit, avocado. I use this dressing and it seems to go particularly well. I garnish the salad with slivered almonds that have been toasted in a spicy lime-maple glaze. That being said a nice butter lettuce salad would also be nice. Hope this helps!
  • Asami S
    Asami S
    I thought the recipe is GREAT. I really love the cilantro orange sauce + capers. I sauté spinach and served with coconut rice. It was really yummy. However, I couldn't fry them good. I also had some sticking issues. I used cuisinart clad stainless frying pan Should I use a non stick pan for fish cooking?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    glad you enjoyed the recipe. As far as the pan you used, you should be okay with stainless steel pans, you just have to make sure to properly heat the pan. However, I often use non-stick pans when frying thinner pieces of fish. If you haven't already maybe watch the pan frying lesson and also the pan frying fish lesson.
  • Asami S
    Asami S
    Thank you! I saw the pan fry lessons. Sorry you already talked about the pans. Again, your lessons are fabulous~!
  • Keith L
    Keith L
    I made this recipe for my daughter and myself the other night. It was great we both really loved it. I love cooking with citrus and fruits. I made the shrimp mango salad with it and a lemon mashed potato recipe that I have made previously. (My daughter loves mashed potatos) I opted out of the capers as I'm not a big fan of them. Also the grocery store did not have butter head lettuce or watercress for the salad. So I substituted a blend called butter blend which was bagged but it still turned out excellent. My daughter now thinks I'm a chef and should open a bistro! Thanks Rouxbe!!
  • Robert B
    Robert B
    We eat a lot of tilapia, so that was no surprise. But the vinaigrette was excellent and the fried capers were a marvelous surprise! This is a 'delicate' dish with lots of subtle flavors. And there are more steps than I usually underatake cooking for just my wife and myself (reduce the orange juice, toast the cumin and grind it, put it all in the Cuisinart, and then fry the capers). BUT !!! It turned out wonderful, and I love having leftover vinaigrette for tomorrow night. If you make it ahead of time, it really doesn't take that long. (You can use one small frypan for the OJ, then the cumin, and finally the capers). And it's fun. The aroma of the toasting cumin is nice. This isn't a 'rush' dinner, but it's really not hard either, and every step is plaeasant. I think I'll be doing this again and again. Just be sure to pair it with a simple side that won't overpower the beautiful, delicate flavors.
  • Coral  R
    Coral R
    It look very good so that is why I want to try it.
  • Dan G
    Dan G
    This was really a great dish - wife and 2 year old insist that this become part of the regular rotation. Not too challenging but its presentation and flavor complexity make it seem otherwise.
  • Mariam M
    Mariam M
    This was so blanddd ... yuckkk
  • Geni P
    Geni P
    I made this last night and it was super yummy. I didn't have any capers so I left them out. It was still very good. Based on the comments others have posted I will definitely use the capers next time. This is definitely a recipe I will make many times. Rouxbe, you've done it again!
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Thanks Geni, glad that you liked it. If you have any leftover vinaigrette, it is great on salads as well. Cheers!
  • Björn K
    Björn K
    Made it with sole and coconut infused rice. Me, the wife and the two year old all loved this one. So much that I ran to the store to buy more fish to make it for lunch with the leftover vinaigrette two days later. I found the vinaigrette a bit bitter the first time, but after storing it it actually improved. I'm not sure what caused it, I may have slightly overdone it with the cumin. Looking forward to trying it again, I'll try to balance it better. The capers were a revelation. Super simple and such a delicious garnish. Too bad about all the splattering though... but completely worth it.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Björn- A few comments to help see what may have caused bitterness: Were you using olive oil or a neutral oil like grape seed oil? Some olive oils (even some quality ones) have a grassy astringency that can be perceived as bitter. Also, bitterness can come from the oranges if they are not particularly sweet. In any case, feel free to always balance a vinaigrette to your liking with a small touch of honey. Happy Cooking, Enjoy!
  • Jennifer E
    Jennifer E
    This was another hit. The vinaigrette was delightful and the fried capers a wonderful surprise. Who would have known? The only thing I'd like to change is the tilapia. Would any other mild, thin white fish work? Say, sole or flounder? Thank you.
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    So glad that you liked the recipe Jennifer. As for fish substitutions, indeed you could use this dressing with other types of white fish, such as sole, flounder or even halibut. Cheers!
  • Olivia B
    Olivia B
    I just made the recipe tonight and loved it....thank you Rouxbe!!! But I have a quick question - which country should I be buying Tilapia from if I'm trying to source is ethically/sustainably? Mine came from China, which kind of seemed far away. But perhaps this where the best Tilapia come from? I'd love your thoughts. Thanks again Rouxbe for a yummy dinner!!
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Olivia- Sourcing farmed fish is a big question and one that requires some research. Tilapia in particular can be raised easily (most is from China), in many different types of production settings - some of which are not great from a water quality/environmental point of view. Each operation is unique, so country of origin is not the only way to tell what is what. I would suggest checking out some information in aquaculture:
  • Olivia B
    Olivia B
    Hi Ken, thanks so much for passing on the link. It really opened my eyes to aquaculture. I'll definitely be a lot more thoughtful about where I buy from.

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