Baked Tilapia With Tamarind Sauce

Fresh Tilapia Filets
boblin / Getty Images
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
244 Calories
4g Fat
28g Carbs
27g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 244
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 53mg 18%
Sodium 2441mg 106%
Total Carbohydrate 28g 10%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 19g
Protein 27g
Vitamin C 40mg 202%
Calcium 141mg 11%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 888mg 19%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Both tilapia and tamarind are popular ingredients in Thailand and this fish recipe brings the two together beautifully. While this same dish would be steamed in Thailand, here it is baked in the oven (to make preparation easier) and the results are just as delicious. The sauce features the dark richness of tamarind, a fruit that grows in many parts of Asia, creating a combination of sweet and sour, with notes of chili, garlic, and ginger.

Other types of white-fleshed fish will work in this recipe if you can't find tilapia, such as cod, sole, and snapper. Make it easy on yourself and buy the prepared tamarind paste, available at Chinese, Asian, or Indian food markets.


  • 2 to 3 tilapia fillets

  • 1 handful fresh coriander (cilantro)

  • 3 spring onions (sliced)

For the Tamarind Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar (or substitute 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar)

  • 3/4 teaspoon shrimp paste

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped coriander (both stems and leaves)

  • 2 teaspoons nam prik pao (or other red chili sauce)

  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)

  • 1 thumb-sized piece ginger (grated or cut thinly into strips)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Rinse and pat dry the fish.

  3. Place the fillets in a shallow baking dish (preferably one with a tight-fitting lid, or you can use aluminum foil to cover it).

  4. Place all tamarind sauce ingredients together in a saucepan. Gently warm over low to medium heat until a uniform consistency develops.

  5. Taste-test the sauce, adding more sugar if too sour, or more fish sauce if not salty enough. Also, add more chili sauce if you prefer it spicier.

  6. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 of the sauce over the fish fillets.

  7. Cover the remaining sauce and keep warm.

  8. Turn the fillets over several times in the sauce.

  9. Cover and bake for 15 minutes, or until the flesh flakes easily and is no longer translucent.

  10. Place the fillets on a serving plate or individual plates.

  11. Pour the reserved, warm tamarind sauce over, then top with spring onion and fresh coriander.

  12. Enjoy.


  • The amount of sugar in the recipe may seem like a lot, but it is needed to balance out the extreme sourness of the tamarind (unless you prefer very sour flavors). Thai cuisine always keeps a balance of the four big tastes: sweet, sour, spicy, and salty.
  • If your piece of ginger is young, you do not have to peel it as the skin is quite thin. If you choose to remove it, however, a spoon is a good tool compared to a vegetable peeler.
  • Thick fish fillets may need 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through.

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