Tilapia with Tomatillo-Serrano Chile Sauce and Blackened Corn

(Edit: Click here for a how-to tutorial on making the Tomatillo-Serrano Chile Sauce)

The first time I had this was about 4 1/2 years ago. I had never had fish this way before–with a spicy sauce on the side. I had to track down the recipe and make it. In a pinch, you can buy salsa verde and doctor it, or Frontera Kitchens also sells the actual sauce in a bottle. But, it’s much better to go the extra mile and make it yourself. You won’t be sorry! Oh, it’s also good with chicken, if you don’t like fish.

Tilapia with Tomatillo-Serrano Chile Sauce and Blackened Corn


For tilapia:
4 Tilapia fillets
1/2 cup flour
1 egg, well beaten (add a little water to thin it out)
crumbs–bread, cornflake, or cornmeal–you choose

For Tomatillo-Serrano Chile Sauce:
10-12 tomatillos
3-4 serrano chiles
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
juice of one lime
1/2-1 cup cilantro, finely chopped (measure before chopping)
2 cups broth (chicken, beef, or fish–depending on what you are using the sauce for)
salt to taste (if broth doesn’t provide enough)

For Blackened Corn:
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2-4 Tbsp. canola oil


For Tilapia:
Prepare the tilapia fillets by dredging in flour, dipping in egg, and then coating each fillet with crumbs. Cook the fillets in the oven or in a little oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. The fish will flake and won’t be translucent when it is fully cooked. Serve with a good amount of the tomatillo-chile sauce and rice and black beans.

For Simmered Tomatillo-Serrano Chile Sauce:

Remove the husk from the tomatillos and rinse them to remove the sticky residue. Place the tomatillos and the serrano chilies on a baking sheet and place under a hot broiler. Broil each side of the tomatillos and the chilies until they are slighly blackened. The tomatillos will turn sort of an olive green in color. (Alternatively, you can place them in a heavy-duty pan on the stovetop, or you can boil the tomatillos.)

Place the tomatillos and the chiles in a food processor and pulse until they are broken up, but not pureed.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, cook the onion and garlic in a small amount of canola oil until soft. Add to the food processor. Pulse until everything is uniform and almost smooth. Wipe out the pan and add a little more canola oil. Heat the pan again and add the puree. Fry the puree over medium heat until it starts to thicken, darken, and smell very fragrant. Slowly add the chicken broth. Stir occasionally and cook sauce until it thickens–about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the chopped cilantro and stir well. Set aside until ready to use.

For Blackened Corn:

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn–and BE CAREFUL, they pop and the oil can splatter. Cook the corn until it starts to blacken a little. Don’t burn it. You have to stir it continually and add a little more oil so they don’t stick. Add to the tomatillo sauce or serve on the side.

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  1. I am going to try this! It makes me glad you are back in the blogging world. Maybe someday I will be brave enough to have my own. I miss you!

  2. OMIGOSH! we are SO on the same brainwaves again. the wheelers left us a huge bag of talapia in the freezer and I have had no idea what to do with it. I had never even heard of it before moving into this friggin house. and here you go posting a recipe just for me.

  3. hehehe you know you miss me and my lack of cooking ability/ common sense.

    so i googled tomatillo to see what it is and it turns out i was in someone’s yard TODAY who grows them off the tree. i thought it sounded familiar.

    guess what i am cooking if you come visit sometime!

    here’s to the tomatillo tree!

  4. You crack me up, Liz. I had to find out what they were from my cookbook when I went on the quest for this recipe. Then I went to Viva Grande and found them. No looking back….

    Marissa, you MUST start your own blog! I would love to read it.

  5. Loved this recipe! The sauce has really good kick! Try it out everybody! Even my husband that doesn’t really like fish liked it–it masked the fishy taste. Thanks again for sharing Linds.

    On starting a blog, it takes some courage, doesn’t it? I will think about it! I want a digital camera first though . . . pictures add so much.

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