Pan Seared Tilapia with a Five Spice Seasoning and a Light Sauce with Accents of Vanilla, Lemon and Spice

Tilapia is a wonderful light fish that is great as is, but can be made spectacular with a seasoning or sauce or both in this case. The spice being used in this dish is not spicy, but will remind you of fall scents and flavors with hints of a “little something else”. Five spice seasoning is made up of ground star anise, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and pepper. Some brands may contain licorice root too. The sauce enhances the fish with the creaminess of the coconut milk and hints of sweetness from the vanilla, hints of lemon from the lemongrass and a hint of spice from the red pepper flakes. You can adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to your liking. The pairing of coconut milk and lemon grass is commonly used in Asian dishes. Ingredient amounts will feed a family of four with an extra piece of fish in this case for anyone that wants a little extra. Adjust ingredient amounts to accommodate the number of people serving. The sauce for this recipe can accommodate up to 8 additional filets if necessary.


1 1b. of tilapia, about 4 – 5 filets
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
5 spice seasoning to evenly sprinkle both sides of each filet
1 – 14 oz. can of lite coconut milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon of dried lemongrass
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 avocados pit removed and thinly sliced
1 lime
Sprinkle of kosher salt
1 green onion thinly sliced


Over medium high heat whisk together all sauce ingredients. Bring it to a boil and continue to whisk. Reduce heat and simmer while preparing tilapia. Rinse and drain tilapia. Place all filets onto a large plate and evenly sprinkle both sides of the filet with the 5 spice seasoning. Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Sear each filet on each side until a golden brown. About 4 minutes on each side. Remove and place onto serving plate. Ladle sauce over fish, drizzle with lime juice, sprinkle with a small amount of kosher slat and top with avocado and green onions. Serve with additional avocado slices if desired.

Suggested Beverage

Try Parker Station Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County), Chateau St. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc (Columbia Valley), Souverain Sauvignon Blanc (Alexander Valley, California), Tsingtao (China) or Sapporo (Japan).

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