Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

“If you can’t see the ocean, don’t order the fish!”  I was born in Boston and lived there for over 40 years, so I didn’t need to pay any attention to that sage advice.  Then my husband Roger’s job brought us to the Chicago area, and those words suddenly resonated.  No ocean—and precious little in the way of fresh fish!  I was used to a fresh fish market on every corner and supermarkets with fabulous weekly sales on all kinds of fresh fish—shrimp, scallops, lobster, clams, mussels, swordfish, haddock, cod,  halibut, and scrod (with its endless debate as to whether it was cod or haddock).  If I decided to bake or grill some fresh swordfish, I’d just look to see which supermarket had it on sale that week.  Stop & Shop, Star Market, or Roche Brothers would always come through—and, at that time (1992), the sale price would be $5 a pound.  (Excuse me while I silently weep.)  Try to find fresh swordfish out here—at any price!  Don’t even get me started on lobster.  Supermarkets back East all have fish tanks with lobsters cavorting, and you get to pick out which of the beady-eyed little critters you want for dinner that night (excuse me while I take another moment…sigh).

Now I am sure that if one were to live closer to the Windy City than I do, there would have to be a fresh fish purveyor somewhere.  A 4-hour round trip for a weekly fresh fish dinner, however, just didn’t fit into our hectic family life when the kids were younger or, for that matter, now.  Obviously, it didn’t fit into too many of the lives of the people around here either, the vast majority of whom told me they “didn’t like” fish.  Well, if I grew up on frozen shrimp (never had one in my life until I moved here) and Long John Silver’s fish fare, fried into oblivion, I probably wouldn’t like fish either.

I’ve gotten my fresh fish fix by eating lots of salmon and discovering tilapia which I was happy to add to my very short list of fresh seafood available to me.  It is super fast to prepare and cook—and, when prepared as below, the taste is frantastic!

Until I can satisfy my lobster, scallop, shrimp, and clam cravings on a trip back home to visit the relatives, this will do quite nicely.

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

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  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Italian blend cheese mixture
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened (1/2 stick)
  • 3 tbl. mayonnaise
  • 2 tbl. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 tbl. fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/8 ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 pounds tilapia fillets


Preheat your oven’s broiler.  Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.

In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Season with fresh parsley, pepper, and onion powder.  Mix well and set aside.

Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan.  Broil a few inches from the heat (top shelf) for 2 minutes.  Flip the fillets over and broil for 2 more minutes.  Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side.  Broil for 1 to 2 minutes more or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork.  Be careful not to overcook the fish.

Turned over after first 2-minute broiling
Cheese sauce added - ready for final broiling
Cooked to perfection in 5 to 6 minutes

Fran’s Notes:

  • In my oven, the final broiling with the cheese mixture takes just one minute.  Watch it carefully in your oven.
  • My daughters have urged me to have a “College Corner” category of quick and easy recipes for students on the go.  It doesn’t take much to get this tilapia to the dinner table, and it’s a big improvement over ramen noodles!  So, here’s the first recipe to be so categorized.  Stay tuned as Sara and Amy come up with some of their favorite recipes.


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