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Article: Tilapia Poached in Olive Oil with Thyme and Garlic

Tilapia Poached in Olive Oil with Thyme and Garlic

Servings: 4
Author: Chef James R. Kirkley, IV

This restaurant-style dish delivers super-moist, delicately cooked fish.


  • 4 Tilapia filets – about 1/4 pound each
  • 2 cups, il Fustino Arbequina EVOO
  • 3 sprigs, thyme
  • 3 large, garlic cloves – peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 onion – peeled
  • 1 teaspoon, Kosher salt


Pat fish dry with paper towels and season each fillet with 1/4 teaspoon salt; let sit at room temperature 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 275 degrees F. Arrange the fish in a single layer in a shallow baking dish, overlapping the thinner areas of the filets slightly to create a uniform thickness for even cooking. Place the onion cut side down next to fillets. This adds flavor and reduces the amount of oil you will need.

Pour enough olive oil into the dish to just cover the fish. You’ll need slightly more or less oil depending on the size of your dish. Use a smaller dish that just fits the fish in a single layer to minimize the amount of oil you need.

Add the thyme and garlic to the oil, tucking them under the surface.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until just cooked through (130 to 135 degrees internal temperature.) If you’re serving them right away, gently lift the filets out of the dish with two spatulas, transfer them to individual plates and drizzle some of the oil over each one. (You can also use the flavorful oil to dress vegetables or rice if you’re serving those alongside the fish.)

Poaching seafood in olive oil makes it virtually impossible to end up with anything other than impossibly tender fish. This formula is also incredibly versatile, since you can infuse the oil (and by association the fish) with any flavors you like. One of our favorites is Tilapia with garlic and thyme, but feel free to use other herbs, chilis, citrus, etc.