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  #1  
Old 04-21-2013, 06:56 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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Why Does Tilapia Have a Muddy Taste?

I know-tilapia is a pond raised fish..but they are not bottom feeders. But every time I have bought tilapia fillets, I find they have a muddy taste. Curiously, when deep fried, this taste goes away.
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  #2  
Old 04-21-2013, 08:51 AM
drewtwo99 drewtwo99 is offline
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I've never noticed such a taste. Then again I don't really know what mud tastes like.

In fact, my biggest complaint about tilapia is that I can't really detect a flavor of it much at all. It's nice for seasoning however you want though (like tofu or chicken).
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  #3  
Old 04-21-2013, 09:01 AM
Stark Raven Mad Stark Raven Mad is offline
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It just sort of...does. There's a lot of talk about how the organic stuff doesn't have that problem but I can tell you from personal experience that it's exactly the same, and one time, worse - both frozen and fresh.

One of the more popular hypotheses is that it tastes like that because it can sometimes be a bottom feeder. Catfish, another bottom feeder, has the same problem.

Deep-frying involves batter, which probably also means citrus and/or tartar sauce - which would have covered the muddy taste.

IMO it's cheap, but not worth the trouble. Buy a can of tuna.
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:49 AM
PapSett PapSett is offline
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Hmmm... I have never noticed it either. I just had some last week, baked with lemon & dill and it was delicious. Of course, I was raised eating catfish and it is my very favorite fish... one of my very favorite FOODS. So that may have something to do with it.
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  #5  
Old 04-21-2013, 11:29 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Tilapia is a tasteless trash fish that tastes like whatever you put on it, or whatever it's been in contact with. I suspect you are simply tasting the tastelessness of the fish itself. Deep fried, you're tasting the fried oil with some fish sauce.

Having fished out all the really tasty fish (snapper, roughy, cod, halibut, tuna) the fishing industry is now trying to get us to eat a fish they spent generations trying to keep out of their nets and dumping by the ton. I refuse to spend money on it, either grocery or restaurant. Tell them to use the old carp recipe and just bring you the fixin's that represent the flavor.

(Nail carp to a board. Clean and behead. Apply lemon, pepper and dill copiously. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Throw away the fish and eat the board.)

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 04-21-2013 at 11:29 AM..
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  #6  
Old 04-21-2013, 11:36 AM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is online now
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10 years ago I thought tilapia tasted like crap and had a mushy texture. Last year I started eating it and find it somewhat tasty with a firm nice texture.
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  #7  
Old 04-21-2013, 11:40 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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I never noticed much flavor in tilapia at all. It's not really one of my favorites, and when I do use it it's usually in something highly seasoned, not just simple broiled fish. Most tilapia come from fish farms which may have something to do with any muddy flavor noticed.
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  #8  
Old 04-21-2013, 11:50 AM
BigT BigT is online now
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Have you actually tasted mud? I did as a kid, and it tastes nothing like tilapia. Mud has more flavor.

And how in the world does Firefox not know the word tilapia?
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  #9  
Old 04-21-2013, 11:56 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
10 years ago I thought tilapia tasted like crap and had a mushy texture. Last year I started eating it and find it somewhat tasty with a firm nice texture.
I'd suspect changing taste, especially comparative, as well as the tilapia probably being fresher and being prepared in a more appetizing way. Ten years ago, it was probably frozen for six months, thawed poorly and fixed as a low-end menu item. The one you have today is likely fresh or at least only partially frozen and prepared as a front-line item.

I further suspect, though, that if you were to be served a half-portion of truly tasty fish and a half-portion of tilapia, the latter would seem more mushy and tasteless than you now perceive. I dunno about anyone else, but it's probably been a decade since I had a truly first-rate dinner filet like snapper or roughy.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 04-21-2013 at 11:57 AM..
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  #10  
Old 04-21-2013, 12:00 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Never noticed a mud flavor in it. For me it's the iceberg lettuce of fish. Very mild, neutral flavor. The fishes I would sometimes characterize as "muddy" in flavor are catfish and carp.

Although, according to this, tilapia is also associated with the muddy flavor. I've never had muddy flavored tilapia that I know of.

ETA: Oh, I suppose I should also quote the answer to the OP:

Quote:
Our research revealed that the flavor comes from a compound called geosmin, which is Greek for “earth smell.” Geosmin is abundant in the blue-green algae found in the bottom of the man-made ponds that catfish and tilapia are raised in. When the fish swim in the geosmin-rich water, they consume the compound as they ingest the algae.

Last edited by pulykamell; 04-21-2013 at 12:00 PM..
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  #11  
Old 04-21-2013, 12:28 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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I've certainly noticed what the OP talks about, though I would have descibed it as a "soapy" taste. So that even though I approve of the concept of a mild, white fish, I'm not particularly fond of tilapia as a representative of that genre.
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  #12  
Old 04-21-2013, 12:54 PM
Face Intentionally Left Blank Face Intentionally Left Blank is offline
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When I buy tilapia, I look for the fillets that are the least red. The ones with the most red in them don't taste as good to me.
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  #13  
Old 04-21-2013, 01:02 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
I've certainly noticed what the OP talks about, though I would have descibed it as a "soapy" taste. So that even though I approve of the concept of a mild, white fish, I'm not particularly fond of tilapia as a representative of that genre.
If you want soapy taste, try some lutefisk. It's literally soap.
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  #14  
Old 04-21-2013, 01:59 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
I'd suspect changing taste, especially comparative, as well as the tilapia probably being fresher and being prepared in a more appetizing way. Ten years ago, it was probably frozen for six months, thawed poorly and fixed as a low-end menu item. The one you have today is likely fresh or at least only partially frozen and prepared as a front-line item.

I further suspect, though, that if you were to be served a half-portion of truly tasty fish and a half-portion of tilapia, the latter would seem more mushy and tasteless than you now perceive. I dunno about anyone else, but it's probably been a decade since I had a truly first-rate dinner filet like snapper or roughy.
Local rockfish off the southern Ca coast are still by far my favorite. But I will take tilapia over sole and even the fish they now pass off as cod which I suspect is not really cod. For those who have not tried it recently I would ask you give it another shot, to me it has improved remarkably.
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  #15  
Old 04-21-2013, 03:09 PM
bump bump is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
Having fished out all the really tasty fish (snapper, roughy, cod, halibut, tuna) the fishing industry is now trying to get us to eat a fish they spent generations trying to keep out of their nets and dumping by the ton.
I thought we were supposed to be fighting ignorance, not spreading it.

It's unlikely that tilaipa was somehow saltwater bycatch from fishing for the species you mention, considering that it's a freshwater fish from Africa.

The thing with tilapia is that they're easy to farm- they're vegetarian and fast growing, and are well suited to warm climates.

The reason they taste like dirt is the same reason that catfish do; a compound called geosmin which produced by bacteria and is responsible for the dirt taste of beets and that earthy smell after rain.

I bet the fried tilapia you had was marinated in buttermilk or something acidic before cooking; that breaks down the compound.
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  #16  
Old 04-21-2013, 03:16 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
If you want soapy taste, try some lutefisk. It's literally soap.
My Norwegian ancestors humpf at you and offer you some fresh lefse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
It's unlikely that tilaipa was somehow saltwater bycatch from fishing for the species you mention, considering that it's a freshwater fish from Africa.
Conceded. There are other trash fish now commercially caught and I made my comment too sweeping.

It's still a tasteless trash fish and I think trying to give it the high sell based on what goo it's drowned in needs to pass.
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  #17  
Old 04-21-2013, 05:47 PM
the_diego the_diego is offline
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Both tilapia and catfish are staples in the Filipino diet. A muddy-tasting fish is a sick one, as one fisheries professional told me. The local term is "lasang gilik." The flesh is already poisoned due to lack of oxygen, caused by overfeeding in crowded ponds or some other reason. Healthy pond-raised fish should have no such taste.
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  #18  
Old 04-22-2013, 09:55 AM
Shark Sandwich Shark Sandwich is offline
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I don't know if I find the taste to be muddy, but more algae-y. I find that if you have a whole fillet (with the thicker, bigger piece and the thinner, narrower piece), if you split it the length of the fillet and cut off the bloodline, it takes most of that flavor away.
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  #19  
Old 04-22-2013, 10:04 AM
thicksantorum thicksantorum is offline
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Tilapia isn't that bad, as long as you buy it cheap in bulk, and understand that it's basically just tasteless protein that goes with anything, as long as it's heavily spiced. It's the fish equivalent of a bag of frozen chicken breasts. Wouldn't pay for it in a restaurant, though.
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  #20  
Old 04-22-2013, 10:11 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thicksantorum View Post
Tilapia isn't that bad, as long as you buy it cheap in bulk, and understand that it's basically just tasteless protein that goes with anything, as long as it's heavily spiced. It's the fish equivalent of a bag of frozen chicken breasts.
I can throw a chicken boob and a tilapia slab under the broiler without the slightest bit of spice or condiment, and the chicken will be tasty and edible with no more than a dash of salt. The fish will be inedibly bland.

There are many sources of cheap, bulk, tasty protein without resorting to the grocery equivalent of MREs, at any price.
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  #21  
Old 04-22-2013, 10:13 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Originally Posted by bump View Post
IThe thing with tilapia is that they're easy to farm- they're vegetarian and fast growing, and are well suited to warm climates.

The reason they taste like dirt is the same reason that catfish do; a compound called geosmin which produced by bacteria and is responsible for the dirt taste of beets and that earthy smell after rain.
Yes, looks like this can be a problem with farm raised catfish as well. Those have a little more flavor so maybe the effect is less noticeable. But I've still never tasted it in tilapia.
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  #22  
Old 04-22-2013, 10:21 AM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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They eat shit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Link
What do tilapia eat in nature? A wide variety of natural organisms, from plankton to green leaves to invertebrates to larva to… detritus. Many theories have been put forth about the tilapia’s eating habits as related to other fishes’ excretion habits. Yes, tilapia eat poop.
When commercially farmed, they are used to clear feces from pools other fish have been in.
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  #23  
Old 04-22-2013, 10:25 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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When commercially farmed, they are used to clear feces from pools other fish have been in.
"...Wanna buy a toothbrush?"
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  #24  
Old 04-22-2013, 10:32 AM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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Some types of tilapia are kept in aquariums as pets.

"Fish are friends, not food."
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:07 PM
Vinyl Turnip Vinyl Turnip is offline
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I've had muddy-tasting tilapia a couple of times, and it's pretty nasty. That, and the fact that at best it's flavorless, have discouraged me from buying it if I can avoid it.
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:02 PM
snowthx snowthx is offline
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Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
They eat shit.

When commercially farmed, they are used to clear feces from pools other fish have been in.
Yep. And my wife wont touch tilapia since she saw some nature show about hippos in Africa, and it showed how the fish cleaned-up the other animals droppings in the water. Every time I ask her about tilapia she says "No, they eat hippo poo".
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:07 PM
thicksantorum thicksantorum is offline
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Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
Some types of tilapia are kept in aquariums as pets.

"Fish are friends, not food."
Well, they are just big cichlids, after all. Cichlids are pretty much the least boring fish you can keep in a cheap freshwater aquarium.
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:10 PM
chargerrich chargerrich is offline
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Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
I know-tilapia is a pond raised fish..but they are not bottom feeders. But every time I have bought tilapia fillets, I find they have a muddy taste. Curiously, when deep fried, this taste goes away.
Doesn't the natural and inherit taste of ANYTHING go away when you deep fry?
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  #29  
Old 04-22-2013, 03:44 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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Originally Posted by thicksantorum View Post
Well, they are just big cichlids, after all. Cichlids are pretty much the least boring fish you can keep in a cheap freshwater aquarium.
I like killies, but our Tanganyikan cichlids are pretty cool.
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  #30  
Old 04-22-2013, 03:56 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
I like killies, but our Tanganyikan cichlids are pretty cool.
Nice fish. Have you looked them under a black light?
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  #31  
Old 04-22-2013, 04:04 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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Nice fish. Have you looked them under a black light?
No, haven't had one since I was a teen.
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Old 04-22-2013, 04:09 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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No, haven't had one since I was a teen.
You should see the colors turn bright, and sometimes new colors and patterns show up. Some fluorescent hood lights will start up a black light bulb, a lot won't. Makes the fish look great, though you may have to limit exposure, not sure about any long term effect.
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  #33  
Old 04-22-2013, 05:43 PM
Pops Negro Pops Negro is offline
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Tilapia is one of my fave grocery-store fresh fillets.

Here is my go-to recipe. (You're welcome.)

Rinse fillets and pat dry. Melt a pat of butter in a pan while you pre-heat oven to 375.

Meanwhile, mix 1/2 bread crumbs & 1/2 grated parmesian cheese in a small bowl. Add a dash of cayenne and another of paprika as well as 1/4 tsp of dry or more fresh chopped basil plus a dash of salt and pepper. Melt some more unsalted butter and brush the fillets in the pan, then top with the mixture, pressing it on with a fork.

Bake for 19 min max; this will be fully-cooked in most ovens.
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  #34  
Old 04-22-2013, 05:46 PM
Pops Negro Pops Negro is offline
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Originally Posted by snowthx View Post
Yep. And my wife wont touch tilapia since she saw some nature show about hippos in Africa, and it showed how the fish cleaned-up the other animals droppings in the water. Every time I ask her about tilapia she says "No, they eat hippo poo".
Lobster and crayfish are both bottom-feeders as well and they're considered delicacies. I worry more about the bacterial content of farmed fish, especially salmon; I always buy wild-caught for that reason.
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  #35  
Old 04-22-2013, 06:22 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Originally Posted by Pops Negro View Post
...mix 1/2 bread crumbs & 1/2 grated parmesian cheese in a small bowl. Add a dash of cayenne and another of paprika as well as 1/4 tsp of dry or more fresh chopped basil plus a dash of salt and pepper. Melt some more unsalted butter and brush the fillets in the pan, then top with the mixture, pressing it on with a fork.
I'm sure this is good, but the point of most posters in this thread is that the fish is so lacking in taste and character itself that it becomes an incidental component for all those yummy additions. You could substitute Wonder Bread or unflavored gelatine for the fish and it would be equally tasty.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 04-22-2013 at 06:22 PM..
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  #36  
Old 04-22-2013, 06:25 PM
Pops Negro Pops Negro is offline
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My point--albeit unstated--is that the fish cooks up well and so it's not any of them bad thangs you sez.
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  #37  
Old 04-22-2013, 07:01 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Originally Posted by Pops Negro View Post
My point--albeit unstated--is that the fish cooks up well and so it's not any of them bad thangs you sez.
What isn't it? It's almost taste-free, except when it tastes nasty, and every recipe uses powerful flavoring agents to make it worth eating. What ends up on the plate owes far more to the condiments and spices than to the fish underneath.

But bon appetit.
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  #38  
Old 04-22-2013, 07:54 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
What isn't it? It's almost taste-free, except when it tastes nasty, and every recipe uses powerful flavoring agents to make it worth eating. What ends up on the plate owes far more to the condiments and spices than to the fish underneath.

But bon appetit.
The tilapia I've had never been muddy-tasting (so far), and I like that it's not terribly fishy tasting. But bon appetit.
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  #39  
Old 04-23-2013, 09:22 PM
the_diego the_diego is offline
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And tilapia don't have to be bottom feaders. They can be raised in a lake or a pond inside a 3m x 3m floating pen with nylon netting.
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