Pan-Fried Tilapia with Sesame Crust

5 from 9 votes
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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.

Pan-fried tilapia with sesame crust is an Asian-inspired dish packed with bold flavors and irresistible textures.

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!

Photo of a bowl with sesame crusted fish and vegetables

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!

Hand dropping sesame seeds over tilapia fish fillets on a baking sheet

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.

Metal tongs grabbing soba noodles out of a pot of boiling water

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.

Fried wontons on a baking sheet being salted

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!

Bowl of asian-style cuisine with fish and wonton crisps

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!

Photo of Half Baked Harvest cookbook on a table

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.

Pan-Fried Tilapia with Sesame Crust

Pan-fried sesame-crusted tilapia is an Asian-inspired dish packed with bold flavors and textures. Served with a sweet and spicy sauce and soba noodles.
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Japanese

Ingredients  

  • canola oil, or vegetable oil, as needed for frying wontons
  • 20 wonton wrappers
  • kosher salt, for seasoning
  • lime zest, from 1 lime
  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 661kcal (33%)Carbohydrates 81g (27%)Protein 36g (72%)Fat 22g (34%)Saturated Fat 4g (20%)Polyunsaturated Fat 6gMonounsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 45mg (15%)Sodium 1307mg (54%)Potassium 310mg (9%)Fiber 5g (20%)Sugar 14g (16%)Vitamin A 850IU (17%)Vitamin C 19mg (23%)Calcium 120mg (12%)Iron 1.8mg (10%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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4 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Heidi says

    Hello Jessica,
    Besides tilapia, what other fish will go well with this recepie?
    Looks amazing except my husband is not so keen on tilapia. Is it true that tilapia contains a relatively high levels of long chain omega-6?
    Thanks,

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Heidi- I would try doing a seared ahi tuna with the sesame crust for with salmon, those would be better options if you are concerned about the potential higher levels of omega-6 in tilapia.

  2. Tieghan says

    This is such a sweet review and thank you so much for all your incredibly kind words. So flattered! The dish looks amazing! 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Tieghan! The recipe was fantastic, we gobbled it all up! Wishing you incredible success with your cookbook 🙂