Roasted Tilapia in Sweet Asian Chile Sauce

Hello everyone, I have to apologize for the sporadic posting. I haven’t been doing much cooking lately, sadly.

To make it up to you, I am going to share a delicious and super healthy dish: Roasted Tilapia in Sweet Asian Chile Sauce. I think it would also work great with another mild white fish, like cod or swordfish. The cool thing about this recipe is that the fish are baked in packets. The original recipe suggests using banana leaves, but I am a busy woman! I refuse to drive around specialty stores looking for banana leaves when I know for a fact that foil packets work just as well.

This technique steams the fish in its own juices and the juices of the sauce you add, meaning it doesn’t come out dry or tasteless. Just the opposite: it is flaky and moist and tender and filled with amazing flavors. And there’s another perk: easy cleanup!

I served it with a side of jasmine rice and some steamed green beans drizzled with a sesame sauce. For that sauce, I simply whisked together: toasted sesame oil, vegetable oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar, then topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Roasted Tilapia in Sweet Asian Chile Sauce

adapted from Self (June 2003)


  • 4 tilapia fillets (about 4 oz. each)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
  • 2 green onions (green part only), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (can substitute with cilantro)
  • 1-2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (it’s spicy!! so add a little at a time and taste before adding more)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or any other mild-tasting oil)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rip 4 sheets of foil, about a foot long each. Place a tilapia fillet in the center of each sheet.

2. Whisk together all remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Distribute equal amounts of sauce over the top of each tilapia fillet and make sure it’s evenly distributed.

3. Time to wrap! Fold the short ends of the foil towards the center, over the fillet. At the spot in the middle where the pieces of foil meet, crimp them together and fold down 2 or 3 times, forming a seam in the center. Now wrap the the long ends towards the middle until the foil packet touches the fish on both ends. See picture above for what the packets should look like.

4. Place the packets in oven-safe dishes (this makes it easier to move in/out of the oven) and bake for 20-30 minutes. I find 20 minutes gives me a gorgeously moist and flaky fish, but some like a firmer consistency. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes in the packets. When opening packets, keep your face away since the escaping steam will be very hot.

5. Serve. It might be fun to bring to the table in foil and allow the guests to open the packets for themselves.

  • 1-inch cube fresh gingerroot, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 2 green onions (green part only), finely chopped
  • Fresh chile to taste
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed (or safflower) oil
  • Dash of toasted sesame oil
  • Dash of soy sauce
  • Dash of fish sauce
  • 4 tsp dark maple syrup
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    Leave a comment


    1. Hey, Congrats on making your own Garlic Chile Sauce – I only have seen this in bottles from the Asian grocery. Very nice recipe that I’ll use soon. I’ve discovered another easy Asian adaption for baked or grilled fish, just paint on some Oyster Sauce on a fillet, put it in a red hot cast iron skillet for 1 minute, and then under a broiler for another 3 mins. Makes a really nice fish dish – especially good with salmon.

      Hope you keep up your blog – you have a good food perspective and are doing some imaginative dishes – great stuff to share.

      Best wishes to you.

    2. Thanks for the kind words, Doc. It means a lot to me that you enjoy my blog 🙂

      And thank you for sharing that fantastically easy way to prep fish! I will have to try it out. I bet it would also be tasty with hoisin sauce…

    3. a mouth watering dish. You really have the patience to do the chile sauce. What I like about this dish is that you used tilapia (one of the fish I love to eat) and combined it with veggies. Its a very healthy and tasty dish that people would surely love.

    4. Ruby

       /  June 11, 2012

      This is an awesome dish that I have added to my regular rotation! Thanks so much!

    5. Kristin Epstein

       /  January 8, 2014

      This was absolutely delicious! Will definitely make again! Instead of the maple syrup or honey we used ginger syrup and it gave it an extra little sweet ginger kick!


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