Puxa Vida Tilapia

I’ve a house full of kids who complained tonight when I announced we’d be having fish for dinner.  Awwwwwwww, maaaan! the lot of them moaned. Apparently eating fish is akin to watching reruns of Hannah Montana, or watching your mom bust a move when “Ice Ice Baby” finds its way onto the radio. It’s not pretty.

Still, I pressed forward with the dinner plans, undaunted. When the kids were called to the kitchen table, they dragged their feet and held their plates forlornly for a scoop of rubied red tilapia. Then.



Alyssa said it twice. One mouthful after another. The.best.fish.ever.

And before I knew it, I had a house full of kids who were asking for seconds. Because really, this is the best fish ever.


Puxa Vida Tilapia


1 red bell pepper
1/2 onion
1 jalapeno, seeds removed
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
2 (15 ounce) cans fireroasted diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons honey
Juice of 1 lime
2 pounds tilapia
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4-5 cups short-grain brown rice, cooked

3 (15 ounce) cans black beans
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup diced onions
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Finely chop the red bell pepper, onion, jalapeno, and garlic in a food processor. Drizzle the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the chopped vegetable mixture in the oil until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, diced tomatoes, and honey to the mixture. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer until it thickens, about 8-10 minutes. Add lime juice to the sauce and remove from heat.

Place the tilapia in a deep baking dish. Pour the sauce over the fish, making sure it's all well coated. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily when pulled with a fork. Serve over brown rice with black beans on the side. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Combine all ingredients in a small slowcooker and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.

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30 Responses to “Puxa Vida Tilapia”

  1. 1

    Maris (In Good Taste) on April 18, 2011 at 2:14 am Reply

    How cute are your kids! This does look like the best fish ever!

  2. 2

    peachkins on April 18, 2011 at 7:08 am Reply

    I will give this a try!

  3. 3

    Meghan on April 18, 2011 at 9:04 am Reply

    I am excited to try any new fish recipe! This looks so good!

  4. 4

    mangiabella on April 18, 2011 at 10:20 am Reply

    sounds mega yum – love fire roasted tomatoes :) and I think I’ve got all of these ingredients on hand, yeah!

  5. 5

    Jason on April 18, 2011 at 11:34 am Reply

    Great looking recipe! The sauce looks amazing.

  6. 6

    Anna on April 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm Reply

    haha good for you making it anyway! you are doing your kids such a favor by exposing them to all this delicious food. this looks fantastic, as usual!


  7. 7

    Bree on April 18, 2011 at 7:52 pm Reply

    this looks delicious. I have been trying to eat more fish at our house and this looks like a perfect recipe to try.

  8. 8

    Jeanette on April 18, 2011 at 8:29 pm Reply

    Yum – this looks awesome, love coconut milk with fish, and black beans happen to be a favorite too!

  9. 9

    marla on April 18, 2011 at 8:46 pm Reply

    I have never heard of puxa vida – but I love that it means “wow!” Tilapia and coconut milk does sound like a dream come true.

  10. 10

    Jessica on April 18, 2011 at 10:02 pm Reply

    Ok, I have a box of frozen tilapia waiting to be eaten…and I was getting SO tired of my classic preparation. Thanks for this recipe, I will definitely try it!

    • Brooke replied: — April 19th, 2011 @ 6:37 am

      Oh, good! You are going to LOVE this recipe then. Such a unique way to make Tilapia without being weird! Enjoy!

  11. 11

    Lucy on April 20, 2011 at 11:30 am Reply

    I love fish in almost any preparation so I’ll definitely try this. The coconut milk is throwing me off a little — have you ever made it without? What does it add to the dish — is it more for consistency or flavor?

    • Brooke replied: — April 20th, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

      The coconut milk adds incredible flavor and a richness to the sauce that really is second to none. Stick with it and give it a try. You won’t be sad about it!

  12. 12

    Jessica on April 27, 2011 at 4:59 pm Reply

    Brooke, I just made this for my family and we loved it! It is especially delicious eaten with the rice and beans, so thanks for the suggestion on pairing the fish with them. Thanks for this great recipe! It was a fantastic change-up, really interesting and delicious flavors, and I’ll definitely make it again.

    • Brooke replied: — April 28th, 2011 @ 8:00 pm

      Thank you! I’m so very, very glad you liked it!

  13. 13

    Bree on May 18, 2011 at 11:34 am Reply

    I made this the other night for dinner and 5 children all ate it happily! It is a miracle food. This recipe was light and flavorful and easy to make, a keeper for sure. Thanks Brooke!

  14. 14

    Mindy on June 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm Reply

    Hi Brooke!
    My husband and I are not fish-eaters. But we have liked it on occasion and so as an act of good faith, I bought a lb. last week. It sits in my freezer and will be made on Friday. This recipe looks amazing, we love the flavors of coconut and lime. Are the fire-roasted tomatoes very important? Because I would rather not make a trip to the store.
    I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Brooke replied: — June 21st, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

      You can make due without the fire-roasted tomatoes. But, oh Mindy! Prepare yourself. You are going to LOVE this recipe!!!

  15. 15

    Mindy on June 25, 2011 at 7:28 pm Reply

    OK. I made this tonight and it was good. But it wasn’t great. It still seemed a little fishy to me. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t.
    The only thing is I left out the jalapeno and fire roasted tomatoes and cilantro. I used regular diced tomatoes w/ a little bit of tomatoes w/ chilies. I was hoping my 2 year old would eat it. Maybe that’s what went wrong. The extra heat may have eliminated the fishiness.
    Still, I’ll keep trying some fish recipes. Maybe if I did something on the grill…any ideas?

    • Brooke replied: — June 26th, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

      Mindy- The entire ingredient list really comes together to make this dish splendid. Even the slightest of tweaks will drastically change that final outcome, dang it! Hang in there with the fish recipes! It’s always yummy to just toss some tilapia in a foil pouch with some lemon slices, dill, and a drizzle of olive oil (and salt & pepper, of course!) then toss it on the grill ’til flaky. Easy and delish!

  16. 16

    A Little Yumminess on June 26, 2011 at 9:09 pm Reply

    I just bought Tilapia today for dinner tomorrow and saw this recipe on Bree’s blog. This is for dinner tomorrow!

  17. 17

    Catie Johnson on August 11, 2011 at 11:20 am Reply

    I made this recipe. It was amazing! I wouldn’t change a thing. My husband asked me to make it again the next night.

    • Catie Johnson replied: — August 11th, 2011 @ 11:22 am

      Also to the gal who left out the jalepeno and the fire roasted tomatos.. that is how my mother in law made it and it was like a completely different recipe. We were choking it down. This recipe cannot have substitutes.

      • Brooke replied: — August 12th, 2011 @ 1:08 am

        I totally agree, Catie! So glad it worked for you!

  18. 18

    keely on August 11, 2011 at 6:45 pm Reply

    just finished making & eating this dish… so GREAT! thanks so much for sharing!

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  21. 19

    Karen on February 23, 2014 at 8:57 pm Reply

    What a fabulous recipe! Have now made this three times and it’s always delicious. Thanks so much for sharing!

  22. 20

    Lauren on March 7, 2014 at 5:18 am Reply

    Ok, this may be a dumb question, so I apologize in advance if it is. I’m no chef, so I try to follow recipe instructions strictly when I do attempt to cook lol. But, should I be using fresh or frozen tilapia for this recipe? Also, if it is frozen, does it need to be thawed before I start cooking in order to be done in accordance with the baking time?

    I cannot wait to try this recipe tonight! My kids love fish, but we are getting a little tired of my tried and true “sprinkle with a little of everything I have in the spice cabinet and add a dollop of butter on top” baked tilapia recipe. I’m a Cajun, so that’s pretty much my go-to formula for any of my invented homemade dishes, and I’m excited about branching out and trying some new and different fish recipes for Lent!

    Anyway, thanks in advance for any clarification you can give about my questions!

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