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Tortuguero Tilapia with Cilantro-Lime Sauce

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Tortuguero Tilapia with Cilantro-Lime Sauce

Tortuguero Tilapia with Cilantro-Lime Sauce

Jessica Braider
Chef Valentin Corral at the remote Tortuguero Lodge in Costa Rica first prepared this brightly flavored tilapia for us. You won't believe how much flavor can be produced in just 15 minutes!
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Latin American
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 - 1 1/2 lb. tilapia fillets or other thin white fish fillets
  • 1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper or to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro or use basil or flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 lime


  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Place the tilapia fillets in the pan and press them down with a spatula to ensure each fillet is completely touching the pan.
  • Cook the fillets on each side until they are lightly browned, 3 – 4 minutes per side. After flipping the fish, season it with salt and pepper.
  • While the fish is cooking, make the sauce one of two ways: Either puree the cilantro, garlic, 1 Tbsp. oil, and the juice of half the lime in a food processor or blender (a mini food processor would be perfect, if you have one). Or, by hand, finely chop the cilantro and garlic, put it in a small serving bowl, and stir in 1 Tbsp. oil and the juice of half a lime. Season it with salt and pepper to taste.
  • When the fish is done cooking, put it on a serving plate and top it with the sauce (or serve the sauce on the side). Cut the remaining half lime into 4 wedges for serving.

Slow Cooker Directions

  • Cut the fish into pieces that will easily fit into the slow cooker, if needed. Lay each piece of fish on a square of aluminum foil large enough to form a packet around the fish, and season the fish with salt and pepper. Form a foil packet around each piece of fish, and place packets in the slow cooker, stacking as necessary. Cook on low for 5 - 6 hours or on high for 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Prepare the sauce and serve it with the cooked fish. (Slow cooker cooking times may vary—Get to know your slow cooker and, if necessary, adjust cooking times accordingly.)


Do Ahead or Delegate: Peel the garlic, juice half the lime and cut the other half into wedges, make and refrigerate the sauce.
Scramble Flavor Booster: Add some zest from the lime and 1/4 – 1/2 of a seeded hot pepper to the cilantro-lime mixture.
Tip: Try to purchase tilapia that has been raised in the United States.  If possible, avoid farmed tilapia from China and Taiwan where pollution is a widespread problem. This and other important information about making healthy choices for our bodies and our oceans is available on Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website.
Nutritional Information Per Serving (% based upon daily values): Calories 200, Total Fat: 8g, 12%; Saturated Fat: 2g, 8%; Cholesterol: 80mg, 27%; Sodium: 135mg, 6%; Total Carbohydrate: 2g, 1%; Dietary Fiber: 1g, 4%; Sugar: 0g; Protein: 29g
Like this recipe? Check out The Scramble's family-friendly meal plans to see just how simple getting dinner on the table can be!
Keyword 30 Minutes (or less) Meals, All, Company/Entertaining, Dairy-Free, Dinner, Fall, Gluten-Free, Kosher, Low Carb, Low Fat, Low Sodium, Main Dish, No Added Sugar, Nut-Free, Slow Cooker, Spring, Summer, Super Scramble Express (20 minutes or less total), Winter
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