Seared Tilapia with Jambalaya Sauce

At Project Angel Heart, we make tilapia for our clients about once a week. It’s really important to us to use sustainable seafood products in our meals, so we’re thrilled that we’ve been able to work with Seattle Fish Co. to find a tilapia that’s free of additives and chemicals and meets Best Aquaculture Practices including food safety, social responsibility, animal welfare, and environmental responsibility. 

You can buy sustainable tilapia, too! When you’re at the grocery store, look for products with certifications from organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch or Environmental Defense Fund. If you don’t see a rating, don’t be afraid to ask! You can also look up specific types of fish on the Seafood Watch app to find out exactly which methods of farming/fishing and which locations are most environmentally friendly. 

Chef Brandon and Meghan Perkins, our registered dietitian, showed donors belonging to our Red Apron Circle how to prepare this tilapia at a behind-the-scenes happy hour.

Seared Tilapia with Jambalaya Sauce
Serves 4

Jambalaya Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 (15 oz) can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 teaspoons paprika, ground
  • 2 teaspoons oregano, dry
  • 2 teaspoons basil, dry
  • 2 teaspoons thyme, dry
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


  • 4 Tilapia filets (6-8 oz each)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

For the Jambalaya Sauce:

Place a small saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Let it heat up for 2 minutes, then add the oil, onions, peppers, and celery. Saute lightly until they soften a little, then add the minced garlic and stir well.

Once the garlic is nice and fragrant, add the dried spices and chicken broth and stir well. Add the canned tomatoes and let the sauce come to a simmer. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to build.

Remove sauce from heat and let cool for at least 5 minutes.

Transfer to a blender and add the lemon juice. Pro tip- be careful when pureeing something hot. Start your blender on the lowest speed and let it go slowly, building speed as it purees.

Blend until veggies are slightly broken up- the sauce doesn’t need to be super smooth. Transfer back to the saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside while you prepare the fish. Sauce can also be made one day ahead of time and stored in the fridge. 

For the Tilapia:

Place a sauté pan on the stove over medium-high heat and let it get nice and hot. Once it is hot, add the oil and butter.

Season the fish with salt and pepper, then place the seasoned side down in the pan.
Pro tip- when placing the fish in the pan, start on the side of the pan that’s closest to you and lay it down slowly, in effect laying it “away” from yourself instead of “towards.” This will drastically reduce the risk of being burned by the oil! You can use this technique for searing any fish or meat.

Let the fish get nice and browned, then flip it over and reduce the heat in the pan to medium-low. Cook for 3-5 more minutes, or until it is just cooked through.

To serve, spoon jambalaya sauce over the fish filets. For a more filling dish, serve with rice, quinoa, or roasted potatoes. Enjoy!

Chef Brandon FosterBrandon Foster began his life in the kitchen at the Best Western in Frisco, Colorado, almost 18 years ago. His passion for ingredients and drive to learn technique led him down the mountain to Denver, where he worked in two of Denver’s most fondly remembered restaurants, The Fourth Story and Mel’s. He joined the crew at Vesta in 2005 as a line cook and became executive chef in 2010, focusing on getting back to the roots of cooking through charcuterie and seasonal ingredients. Ultimately, Chef Brandon’s career highlights centered on events like Plates for the Peak, Invest in Kids, and James Beard Foundation dinners where he could play a role in helping people in need- a passion that led him to Project Angel Heart in 2016. Outside the kitchen, Chef Brandon enjoys spending time skiing, camping, golfing, and eating with his wife Larissa and their three kids.