Plantain-crusted Tilapia

Recipe and photos contributed to Hispanic Kitchen by Carolyn Swaney

Menu after menu, restaurant after restaurant, plantain-crusted fish was the common denominator during an amazing visit to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thanks to a large group of fellow travelers, I was able to try the San Juan specialty in about 12 different restaurants during my 10 day trip. So after much trial and error in my kitchen at home, I finally figured it out…it’s almost too simple to be true. Not to mention, who doesn’t like something breaded?

When I started my recipe trials, I adobo’ed, I chili powdered, I floured, I seasoned, and finally came up with this — plain and simple, quick and easy. There are two versions that follow for two different presentations. The mango salsa topping creates a special flavor and color combination that compliments the fish with some Caribbean flair. The added benefit of sauteing the fish, rather than frying, made for a leaner dish with much less grease. Green, unripe, plantains have the starch of a potato, which, somehow, takes on amazing flavor with nothing more than salt and pepper — no adobo, no pepper — so easy! As an alternative, use crushed plantain chips for your breading.

Plantain-Crusted Tilapia

Serves 4


4 green plantains
4 filets of white, flaky fish, such as tilapia, grouper or halibut
1 cup flour
2 eggs
olive oil
mango salsa 


1. Preheat the broiler and slice plantains on a mandoline slicer or with a vegetable peeler.

2. Grease a cookie sheet with 1 tbsp olive oil. Place the plantains in a single layer on the pan and broil on low until crunchy and golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool.

3. Break plantains into chunks and place in a mortar. Crush with the pestle.

4. Place flour on one plate, and crack eggs on another. Beat eggs. Pour plantains on a third plate.

5. Season fish with salt and pepper.

6. Preheat 1 tbsp oil in a large saute pan.

7. Working in two batches, dip seasoned fish in flour and shake off excess. Dip in egg, then crushed plantains, or coat with slices of plantain, then add to pan. Cook filets for 4 minutes, then flip and cook 4 minutes more.

8. Remove from pan and serve with rice and beans, arroz y gandules (shown here), or a green salad. Top fish with mango salsa.



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