Pan-fried tilapia with sesame crust is an Asian-inspired dish packed with bold flavors and irresistible textures. Light crispy white fish served with a sweet and spicy sauce, crunchy wontons, and sauteed asparagus on a bed of soba noodles.
If you’re in need of some serious dinner inspiration, this pan-fried tilapia with sesame crust has everything a meal should be- flavorful, protein, vegetable-packed, and crispy. What’s not to love? This Asian-inspired meal adds excitement to eating more fish throughout the week.
Tilapia is a super flakey light fish that cooks in minutes with ease. By merely adding tiny, flavorful seeds on the surface right before frying in hot oil, an irresistible layer of texture and toasted aromas are added. That’s not all. The fish are glazed with a sweet and spicy soy dressing, with extra to toss on soba noodles.
What takes this meal to the next level are the crunchy wontons, trust me on this one. Your chopsticks will be busy twirling and grabbing for the next bite!
This delicious recipe is from the creative food genius Tiegan Gerard, and her mouth-watering Half Baked Harvest cookbook. Each turn of the page inspires you to head straight to the kitchen and get cooking.
When I saw her stunning sesame-crusted tilapia, I immediately stopped there and knew that I wanted to make it. I am thrilled to share my experience with you. I know you will love it as much as I do!
Adding sesame seeds to coat the fish is a smart and easy way to turn a monotonous piece of seafood into an eye-catching dish. Each grain pops, so adding a layer to the surface that sticks and becomes toasted in the hot pan is tempting for the taste buds.
The best part is that the fish is thin and cooks very quickly, so you don’t have to wait long to dig in.
Have you tried soba noodles? They’re created from an ancient grain that is ground into a buckwheat flour, providing a gluten-free noodle that can be served hot or cold. Their earthy flavors compliment the savory soy dressing in the recipe, absorbing right into the pasta.
Ok now for the fun part! Tiegan urges you not to skip the wonton crisps; I can totally understand why. By frying wonton skins in hot oil, the super-thin egg pasta bubbles up and makes an ultra-delicious crunchy chip.
I cut the wontons into triangles and strips, fried them in vegetable oil (targeting about 325°F to 350°F), then sprinkle immediately with salt and some lime zest. My family couldn’t stop eating them, and I barely had any left for the recipe!
Now it’s time to build the bowls! The soba noodles are tossed in the sweet and spicy dressing with some Parmesan cheese. I never thought to add cheese to an Asian dish, but Tiegan’s ingredient pairing was spot on.
The umami flavors in the cheese enhanced the characteristics of the dressing. It’s fantastic! I added freshly diced cucumbers, avocado, tomatoes, and of course those delicious wontons. This meal is light, bold in flavor and incredibly satisfying. Perfect for lunch or dinner!
Make sure that you check out this brilliant cookbook. The photos are stunning, as Tiegan uses her food styling talents to showcase each ingredient like a piece of art. She is exceptionally innovative with her recipes, from breakfast to snacks, luxurious dinners to to-die-for desserts, there is something for everyone.
Great things have come from Tiegan’s barn kitchen in the mountains. You won’t be disappointed!
More Seafood recipes
Choosing the right oil for frying
This recipe uses two frying techniques: pan-frying the fish and deep frying the wontons. Frying creates beautiful golden colors and irresistible textures. You want to select an oil that has a high enough smoke point to support the cook time and temperature. The fish is fried in sesame oil which has a smoke point at about 350°F. Since it’s just briefly cooked for a few minutes, it works well and adds additional flavor. The wontons are fried at 350°F, so a higher smoke point canola oil (about 400°F) is used.
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Pan-Fried Tilapia with Sesame Crust
- canola oil, or vegetable oil, as needed for frying wontons
- 20 wonton wrappers
- kosher salt, for seasoning
- lime zest, from 1 lime
- ⅓ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 knob ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 clove garlic
- 12 ounces soba noodles
- ½ cup basil, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 tilapia fillets, (4 to 6-ounces)
- black pepper, for seasoning
- ¼ cup sesame seeds, mix of black and white
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 bunch asparagus
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 cucmber, sliced
- pickled ginger, as needed for serving
- ½ cup baby tomaotes
- To make wonton crisps, fill a large skillet with about 1-inch of vegetable oil and heat over medium.
- When it shimmers, add the wonton wrappers a handful at a time. Fry until golden, about 1 minute.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Season immediately with salt and lime zest. Repeat with remaining wrappers.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, lemon juice, sriracha, ginger, and garlic to make a dressing.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, add the soba noodles and cook until tender according to package directions.
- Drain and immediately rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Put the noodles in a large bowl and toss with half the dressing, the basil, and the Parmesan to taste.
- Season tilapia on both sides with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle one side with the sesame seeds.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil over medium-high.
- When it shimmers, add the tilapia, sesame-side down. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until golden and cooked through. Remove fillets from the pan.
- In the same pan, heat the remaining sesame oil. Add the asparagus. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Cook, stirring once or twice, until lightly charred and tender, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and season the asparagus with red pepper flakes.
- Divide the soba noodles among four bowls and top with the tilapia. Add the asparagus, avocado, cucumber, pinkled ginger, and tomatoes.
- Tip with fried wontons. Serve with any remaining dressing alongside.
- Recipe inspired by Tiegan Gerard's Half Baked Harvest cookbook.
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