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Sustainable Seafood: Crispy Tilapia and Pico Quesadillas

Updated: May 23, 2019

Monterey Bay Aquarium's Cooking for Solutions offers a wide range of recipes with the help of Seafood Watch® to provide insight on the most environmentally friendly ways to cook delicious seafood.

Today's recipe was created by Willi Franz, an award winning chef working at Pebble Beach Food & Wine at Marriott Monterey. Franz has had his own cooking shows in the past on the Food Network, including “Chef Willis’ Corner” and “Ready, Set Cook.” Seafood Watch® currently recommends tilapia farmed in ponds from Taiwan, in tank systems from Canada and in closed, recirculating systems from the U.S. Check here for any updates to these recommendations since posting.

Crispy Tilapia and Pico Quesadillas (serves 2)


For the tilapia

  • 1 4-oz. tilapia, skinned, and deboned

  • 4 oz. flour

  • 1 egg

  • Milk

  • 1 and 1/2 oz. seasoned panko bread crumbs

  • 1 and 1/2 oz. corn meal

  • 1 tsp. chopped cilantro

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Salad oil

For the quesadillas

  • 2 7" flour tortillas

  • Oil

  • 4 oz. shredded pepper Jack cheese

  • 4 oz. fresh pico de gallo

  • Hot pepper sauce


For the tilapia

Dust tilapia with flour. Form a wash with egg and milk. Dip dusted tilapia in egg wash. Combine panko bread crumbs, corn meal, cilantro, salt and pepper to form breading. Cover tilapia with breading. Place tilapia in a skillet with salad oil and fry both sides until crisp. Remove fish and place on a rack.

For the quesadillas

On a hot grill, place 1/2 teaspoon oil in center and carefully put tortilla on oil. On half of the tortilla, spread two ounces of cheese, then sprinkle 2 ounce of pico de gallo on cheese. Place 2 ounces of crispy tilapia on the pico de gallo. Fold tortilla in half. Cook until both sides are brown. For a little more zing, add hot sauce to fish. Remove from grill once brown, and cut in half.

To serve

Serve quesadillas with guacamole, a good homemade salsa and a jalapeño. Enjoy!


Resources and References

  • Savor Sustainability: Recipes, Chefs & Seafood Champions from Cooking for Solutions 2011. Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2011.

  • “Seafood Search.” Fishing and Farming Methods from the Seafood Watch Program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium,

  • SunStar Media. “Chefs.” Pebble Beach Food & Wine - April 4-7, 2013,

  • Foods, V & V Supremo. “Tilapia Quesadillas | Ocean Flavors Meet Home Tastes Just for You!” V&V Supremo Foods, Inc.,


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