Tamarind Tilapia Bites- Easy Fish Appetizers

This easy fish appetizer is meant to be served as little bites (though you could alter the proportions for a main dish), particularly a lovely presentation for a festive occasion. Every sense of your palate will be awakened with splashes of salty, savory, tangy and sweet melting together in an incredible explosion. People will be begging for more. Any medium to firm white fish can be used here if you don’t have Tilapia. It’s really the tamarind sauce and fresh basil leaves that elevate this fish appetizer to a memorable dish.

Makes 30-40 bites


2 large fillets of tilapia fish rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

1 tablespoon butter

For the Sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 large shallots, finely diced

1/4 cup tamarind concentrate

1/2 cup Gula Jawa (Javanese Sugar or substitute dark molasses)

1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce

Fresh Thai basil leaves for garnish



Chop the tilapia fillets into small bite-sized chunks. Set aside.

Mix the flour and salt thoroughly. Dredge the fish chunks into the flour mixture, coating all sides well.

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the oil and butter on medium high heat. Pan-fry the fish for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Unless you have a very large skillet, you will probably have to do this in 2 batches, so make sure to divide the amount of oil and butter proportionately. Rest the fish chunks on a plate lined with paper towel and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining oil and butter on medium high heat. Sauté the garlic and shallots for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant and translucent. Add the tamarind, Gula Jawa and fish sauce. Stir until dissolved and thoroughly mixed. Remove the tamarind glaze from the heat.

Arrange the tilapia chunks on a serving platter or individual spoons. Drizzle the tamarind glaze over the fish. Place a basil leaf on each piece of fish over the glaze and serve immediately.

Note: The glaze can be prepared 1 day ahead of time and stored at room temperature properly sealed in a container.