Do you like Pickled Tilapia for your Easter celebration? My family always has a charcuterie board set up as our Easter hors d’oeuvres with an assortment of snacks and pickled fish is a must have.
How about a New Year’s Eve tradition? I believe eating homemade pickled fish brings you good luck for the whole year when eaten on New Year’s Eve!!
If you have never tried pickle fish with tilapia then you must give it a try. Preserved with a salt brine that creates tender, flaky layers.
Pickled tilapia has a mild-flavor and is no doubt a fabulous, pickled fish recipe. Are you looking for a unique tilapia recipe? Then look no more!!
You have found an amazing pickle fish recipe that will want you making more. Don’t let the pickling process intimidate you.
With my step-by-step instructions, you will be making pickled tilapia like a pro. Good, pickled fish recipes are hard to come by, but this recipe has been in our family for over fifty years!
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Types of Pickled Fish
I have made pickle fish with several different white fish, and all have turned out great. Here are a couple of my recipes that you might like to try.
Methods of Preserving Fish
There are 4 different methods of preserving fresh fish that my family uses regularly.
Having an avid fisherman in my family, we always have an abundance of fresh fish. We tend to eat fish 2 to 3 times a week depending on the season.
Freezing fish is something that we do not like to do unless we absolutely must. Fish is very finicky when frozen and if not done properly, can ruin all of it.
Pike is our families favorite fish to pickle. We will freeze chunks of pike to save up for a large batch of pickled fish.
Canned fish is very easy to do and great for fish recipes or just to eat out of the jar.
Ingredients to Make Pickled Tilapia Fish
All common ingredients – just be sure to start with great quality, tilapia fish fillets and not the cheapest fish. Remember, you get what you pay for! Make sure to have an assortment of glass wide mouth jars with matching lids and rings to close your jars with.
- Tilapia Fish Fillets – cut them into same-sized pieces
- Salt – table salt works best
- Vinegar – white vinegar
- Sugar – granulated white sugar
- Pickling Spice Seasoning- make your own or find in the spice section of your grocery store
- Bell Peppers – use a variety of colored peppers for a pretty presentation
- Onion – I love sweet white onions in this easy pickle fish recipe
How To Make Pickled Tilapia?
My recipe is a two-step process to making this pickle tilapia recipe, and in total, it will take 10-days before you can eat it. Others have made this recipe and rushed the process.
The final fish recipe does not have the proper texture and will not have the great pickled fish flavor that so many crave. So be patient, follow all these instructions just like I have explained, and then get ready to enjoy a fabulous treat!
Step 1: How to Make the Salt Vinegar Brine
Cut the skinned fish tilapia fillets into 1-inch pieces and place them in the quart glass jar. For each quart of fish you’re making, add 3/4 cups of plain table salt.
Cover the fish chunks and salt with white vinegar, about 2 cups of vinegar per quart of fish and refrigerate the fish for 5 days. Stir daily to incorporate all ingredients.
This is very important that the fish soaks in the salt brine for the whole 5 days. This process breaks the fish down to dissolve any fish bones if present and creates the right pickled fish texture as well as the lovely flavor that you want.
What’s in Pickling Spice?
I buy prepackaged pickling spices, but you can create your own if desired. My pickling spice ingredients are cinnamon, ginger, allspice/allspice berries, coriander, mustard seed, bay leaves, chilies, cloves, black peppercorns/pepper, mace, and cardamom.
I have had good luck with McCormick pickling spices seasoning. Pickling spices are completely up to you so have fun with it.
Step 2: Make Pickling Solution for the Fish
The next step is to make the pickling brine solution, which will make enough to cover 1 quart of tilapia. Adjust the desired amount if you have more fish. You are making a sweet vinegar pickling liquid.
In a medium sized saucepan, bring 2 cups of white vinegar, 1 ½ cups of granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons of pickling spice to a high simmer low boil. Continue cooking to help dissolve the sugar.
Turn the heat off after the sugar has dissolved and set the pickling brine solution mixture aside to cool completely to at least room temperature.
Packing the Pickle Tilapia Jar
After your tilapia has soaked in the salt-vinegar solution for 5 full days, dump the whole container in a colander to drain off all the salt brine. Rinse the fish with cold water and then soak it in fresh cold water for 30 minutes.
Drain again repeat the rinsing process a second time. You do not want a salty taste to the tilapia so make sure to take this step seriously.
Slice the white onions and bell peppers into thinly sliced strips. The sliced onions and peppers need to be thin to help soak up the excess pickling liquid.
Pack a wide mouth glass container jar by starting with a layer of tilapia, then a layer of raw onions and peppers. Repeat these steps again and again until the tilapia and vegetables completely fill the jar. You want a couple layers (preferable 3 or 4) of each item and make sure to pack firmly.
Pour the cooled brine pickling spice solution in the jar, making sure to completely cover everything. Cover the jar with a lid and ring.
The final step in the pickling process is to refrigerate the jars for at least 5 more days. Then it is time to dig in!
Pickle Fish Tips
- Being patient! Your pickle tilapia will be ready to eat after being refrigerated in the pickling solution for 5 days, but it gets better tasting the longer you keep it!
- Use good quality tilapia that has a good smell to it.
- Cut the tilapia into even-sized pieces for the best results.
- Use thinly sliced white or yellow onion, but not red onions. Red onions can discolor the pickling solution and tint your fish a lovely shade of pink.
- Store your pickle tilapia jar in the refrigerator, ensuring that the pickling solution completely covers the fish.
What Kind of Fish Can I Pickle?
Any firm whitefish can be used when pickling. One of our favorites is freshly, caught northern pike. Pollock, bass, halibut, snapper, cod, herring, catfish, haddock, and mahi mahi can also be pickled.
What To Serve with Pickled Tilapia?
Pickle fish is an Easter tradition for many families and especially mine. But we eat it all year long in my house! Here are some of my favorite ways to serve pickled tilapia:
- On a wild game charcuterie board
- Riesling white wine
- A selection of crackers
- Serve it alongside a fresh loaf of homemade sourdough bread
- Make it a part of a cold meat and cheese plate combined with sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, and blanched vegetables
- Or snack on it right out of the jar!
How Long Does Pickled Tilapia Last?
This pickled tilapia recipe will stay fresh for up to 8 weeks when properly refrigerated. But the rule of thumb is if it starts smelling off, don’t eat it.
How to Store Easy Pickled Tilapia
Store in the back of your refrigerator or wherever it is coldest. Keep the pickle fish in the sealed glass jar and store for up to 8 weeks, at no higher than 40°F. For the best flavor, enjoy within 4-6 weeks.
Pickle Fish Tilapia – FAQ
Yes! The vinegar cures the tilapia fish and preserves it at the same time, killing off any of the bacteria that would cause the fish to spoil. If you eat it within 4-6 weeks and keep it in the refrigerator at the right temperature, it is perfectly safe to eat.
Nope! Follow my step-by-step instructions for best results. It takes some time and patience, but there’s nothing complicated about the tilapia recipe.
If you don’t want to make it yourself, you can purchase pickled fish from many grocery stores in the deli section. Maybe look for pickled herring. I have purchased pickled herring from the store when I am in a hurry. My mom used to make a creamed variety of pickled fish and I believe they have that at the store. Ask if you can’t find it. I encourage you to make your own because it tastes so much better!
Unfortunately, it is not. There’s more sugar in the pickling solution than what is required for a keto recipe. You could try making this tilapia recipe with a white sugar substitute, but I have not experimented with this.
Pickle Fish with Tilapia Recipe
Click below for access to the recipe as well as calories and nutritional information.
- Tilapia Fillets- cut into 1 inch pieces 1 pound
- Salt, Iodized/Table 1/2 cup
- Vinegar, White (Divided, Brine - 1 1/2 cup, Pickling Solution - 2 cups) 3 1/2 cups
- Sugar, Granulated 1 1/2 cup
- Pickling Spice 2 Tablespoons
- Pepper, Bell 1 each
- Onion, Sweet White - Medium 1 each
- How to Make the Salt/Vinegar Brine
Cut the skinned tilapia fillets into 1-inch pieces and place them in the quart glass jar container. Add 3/4 cups of plain table salt on top of the fish chunks. Cover the fish chunks and salt with the vinegar, about 2 cups of vinegar per quart of fish and refrigerate the fish for 5 days. Stir every day to incorporate all ingredients. This is a very important step that the fish soaks in the salt solution for the whole 5 days. This process breaks the fish down to dissolve any fish bones if present. It also creates the right pickled fish texture as well as the lovely flavor that you want.
- Make Pickling Solution for the Fish
The next step is to make the pickling solution, which will make enough to cover 1 quart of tilapia chunks. Adjust the desired amount if you have more tilapia fish.
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of white vinegar, 1 ½ cups of granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons of pickling spice to a low boil. Continue cooking to dissolve the sugar. Turn the heat off after the sugar has dissolved and set the pickling brine mixture aside to cool completely to at least room temperature.
- Packing the Pickle Tilapia in the Jar
After your tilapia has soaked in the salt/vinegar solution for 5 full days, dump the fish chunks into the colander to drain off all the salt brine. Rinse the fish with cold water and then soak it in fresh cold water for at least 30 minutes. Drain again, repeat the rinsing process a second time. You do not want a salty taste to the tilapia chunks so make sure to take this step seriously. Slice the onions and bell peppers into thinly sliced strips. Pack a wide mouth glass jar by starting with a layer of tilapia, then a layer of sliced onions and peppers. Repeat these steps again and again until the tilapia, sliced onion and peppers completely fill the jar. You want a couple layers (preferable 3 or 4) of all three items and make sure to pack firmly. Pour the cooled sweet brine pickling spice solution in the jar, making sure to completely cover everything and pack tight. Cover the glass jar with a lid and ring. The final step in the pickling process is to refrigerate the quart jar for at least 5 more days. Then it is time for you to serve!
Can I Pickle Other Types of Fish?
My family prefers pike fish for pickling, but other firm whitefish can be used like: pollock, bass, haddock, halibut, catfish, snapper, cod, herring, mahi mahi and even salmon.
When Should You Eat Pickled Tilapia?
This pickled tilapia recipe is ready to eat after 10 days (5 days of brine and 5 days of pickling spice solution) but gets better and better the longer it sits in the sweet pickling brine solution.
How Long Does Pickle Fish with Tilapia Last?
The rule of thumb is about eight weeks, but your nose will let you know when the pickled tilapia goes bad. This pickled fish recipe must be stored in the refrigerator at no higher than 40° F (refrigerator temperature) and for best flavor should be used within 8 weeks.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This page contains affiliate links. Click on the highlighted text in a post to explore a product. If you purchase through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I ONLY EVER ENDORSE PRODUCTS THAT I HAVE PERSONALLY USED. Thank you for your support!
Amount Per Serving Calories 121Total Fat 1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 17mgSodium 950mgCarbohydrates 21gFiber 0gSugar 20gProtein 8g
Note: For exact nutritional information, consult your dietitian. All nutritional information is simply a guideline.
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