Crushed tortilla chips make a great breading for fish! It's easy to make on the stove or in the oven. Top the crispy fish fillets with Pico de Gallo and a drizzle of Cilantro-Lime Sauce for a festive, restaurant-quality seafood dinner.
4 tilapia fillets (6 ounces each) or any other moist fish
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 -1/2 cups finely-crushed MASAMOR corn tortilla chips
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you like your fish)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon cool water
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil , divided (for pan-frying) OR
vegetable or canola oil spray , for air frying or baking
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Cherry Tomato Pico de Gallo
2 cups cherry tomatoes , halved if small and quartered, if large
1/4 cup chopped yellow onions
1 small jalapeño pepper , finely chopped (seeds removed for mild)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 -1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper , to taste
1/2 recipe Cilantro Lime Sauce
Prep the Tilapia
Prepare 3 dishes suitable for breading. Place the flour in the first. In the second, whisk together eggs and water. In the third, mix together crushed tortilla chips, paprika, cayenne, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder. Season crumbs to taste with salt (this will depend on how salty your chips are). In a bowl, whisk together eggs and 1 tablespoon lime juice.
Season tilapia fillets with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Dip into the egg mixture, letting excess drip off, and then into the seasoned chips, pressing to adhere the crumbs.
To Pan Fry
In a large skillet over medium high heat, warm 1/4 cup oil until shimmering (enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan). Add 2 breaded fillets to the pan and cook until fish is cooked through and breading is golden, about 4-5 minutes per side. (Cooking time will vary by the thickness of your fillets. The USDA recommends an internal cooking temperature of 145 degrees F for fish, or until opaque.)
Remove from pan and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. I like to sprinkle the fillets with a pinch of kosher salt when they're hot out of the oil.
Carefully drain the oil to a heat-proof container and clean the pan with a paper towel. Repeat the frying process with remaining 1/4 cup oil and fillets.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly oil it. Place the breaded tilapia in a single layer and spray the tops with vegetable oil. (I use an oil mister.)
Bake for 15-18 minutes, flipping once, until the thickest part of the fillets register 145 degrees F and the fish flakes easily.
Make the Cherry Tomato Pico de Gallo
In a bowl, mix together cherry tomatoes, onions, jalapeño pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, top each tilapia fillet with a scoop of the Cherry Tomato Pico de Gallo and a drizzle of the Cilantro-Lime Sauce. The Pico de Gallo and Sauce can be made ahead, but the tilapia is best served immediately.
Notes *To easily crush tortilla chips, place in a zip-top storage bag and crush with a rolling pin, or pulse them in a food processor. For best results, they should be finely-crushed, but not powdery.