My Recipe Box

Spice-Rubbed Tilapia with Tomatillo, Black Bean & Mango Salad


Serves four.

  • To learn more, read:
    Tilapia, Fast & Flavorful
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 78

Tomatillos look like small green tomatoes surrounded by a papery husk. They’re common in Mexican cuisine, and their refreshing flavor is great either raw or cooked.

  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 lb. tomatillos, papery covering discarded, fruit rinsed and small diced
  • 1 ripe medium mango, peeled, pitted, and small diced
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red onion (from about a quarter of a large onion)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 11/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 skinless tilapia fillets (about 4 oz. each)

Put a heatproof serving platter on a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 200°F.  

In a medium bowl, combine the beans, tomatillos, mango, red onion, lime juice, 1/3 cup of the vegetable oil, cilantro, and a few grinds of black pepper; toss gently. Let the salad sit at room temperature while you cook the fish.

Mix 1/4 teaspoon black pepper with the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt. Rub both sides of the tilapia fillets with the mixture. In a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook two of the tilapia fillets until lightly browned and the flesh is opaque and cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the fish to the platter in the oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining two fillets. Transfer the fillets to the platter, and spoon half of the salad on top. Serve with the remaining salad on the side.


For a different spice combination, try rubbing the fish with Old Bay Seasoning. And for other salad combinations, try chickpeas or red beans in place of the black beans, and red tomato or cucumber in place
f the tomatillo.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on four servings, Calories (kcal): 500, Fat (kcal): 30, Fat Calories (g): 250, Saturated Fat (g): 4, Protein (g): 32, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11, Carbohydrates (mg): 32, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 11, Sodium (g): 440, Cholesterol (g): 90, Fiber (g): 7,

Photo: Scott Phillips

As I was making this, I was having reservations about having tried it. Like others, I had never used tomatillos and also my husband and I don't care for cilantro, but the flavors were wonderful. I cooked Black Turtle Beans using FC's Chickpeas with Bay Leaves and Herbs as a guide. I like the idea of adding tomatoes and corn to the salsa. All in all, this is a keeper. Will make again.

Great recipe! This one is a keeper for sure.

Delicious, fresh meal for summertime! I hadn't cooked with tomatillos before, and they were the perfect addition to this salsa. Thanks for another weeknight favorite!

I loved this recipe! Pretty easy to make and very flavorful!

Very simple and flavorful. I will definitely make this again... maybe even try it with chicken. A couple of things: Go easy on the spices. If you put it on too thick you can end up with clumps of chili powder and it is a little overwhelming. It was better when lightly dusted with the spice mix. You also have to be careful not to have the heat too high or you burn the spices. The salsa was very good. I have never used tomatillos before, but I enjoyed them in the salsa. I also added red tomato and fresh corn to it. Overall... I really enjoyed this dish. It is perfect for a light, fresh, supper.

Cookbooks, DVDs & More