Tilapia Poached in Olive Oil with Thyme and Garlic

By • February 3, 2014 10 Comments

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Author Notes: Poaching seafood in olive oil makes it virtually impossible to end up with anything other than impossibly tender fish. This formula is also incredibly versatile, since you can infuse the oil (and by association the fish) with any flavors you like. One of our favorites is tilapia with garlic and thyme, but feel free to use other herbs, chilis, citrus -- whatever floats your boat.Merrill Stubbs

Serves 4

  • 4 tilapia filets, about 1/4 pound each
  • 2 cups olive oil (not your best, but something decent)
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  1. Heat the oven to 275 degrees F. Arrange the fish in a single layer in a shallow baking dish, overlapping the thinner areas of the filets slightly to create a uniform thickness for even cooking.
  2. Pour enough olive oil into the dish to just cover the fish. You'll need slightly more or less oil depending on the size of your dish (use a smaller dish that just fits the fish in a single layer to minimize the amount of oil you need).
  3. Add the thyme and garlic to the oil, tucking them under the surface, and sprinkle the salt evenly over the oil and the fish.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes, until just cooked through. If you're serving them right away, gently lift the filets out of the dish, transfer them to individual plates and drizzle some of the oil over each one. (You can also use the flavorful oil to dress vegetables or rice if you're serving those alongside the fish.) You can also cool the fish and refrigerate it in the oil to eat within two days -- the oil will keep the fish from drying out, and it will absorb more of the flavors from the oil as it rests.

More Great Recipes: Fish & Seafood|Entrees|Fish

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Comments (10) Questions (2)


9 months ago Windtryst

275 really?


9 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.



10 months ago procrastibaker

This was so easy, and tasted amazing. I added twice the garlic and used sole and tilapia, and all the fish came out beautifully. This is going straight into the regular weeknight rotation.


over 1 year ago Squeege

Yum! This is so good and so easy. I did just as suggested and used the olive oil on top of my rice and vegetables. Delicious.


over 1 year ago tinamckenzie

Can you use another type of fish?


over 1 year ago Sarah Hamilton

I used turbot and it came out absolutely perfectly! Just keep an eye on the fish as the time might differ. Mine was probably done at 15 min.


over 1 year ago Becky

Is this supposed 375° ? I just made it and the fish definitely wasn't cooked in 20 min! After 5-10 more with the heat cranked up it was MUCH better.


over 1 year ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I cook my tilapia at 275 for 20 minutes, and it's always cooked through. How thick were your fillets?


over 1 year ago Sydnee Elliot

sounds wonderful. will try today with the tilapia i have in the freezer


over 1 year ago MrsK

Oh, my! This sounds wonderful--and SO easy. I've got to try it. Thanks for sharing.