CHEF SERIES: Andrew Gruel Shares Five Ingredients To Brighten Up Tilapia

CHEF SERIES: Andrew Gruel Shares Five Ingredients To Brighten Up Tilapia

Summer is the perfect season to experiment with brighter flavors and lighter recipes in the kitchen. Fresh ingredients like sweet, juicy fruit and crisp vegetables can add new life to your favorite recipes, especially seafood.

Chef Andrew Gruel, the man behind the modern American seafood franchise Slapfish, knows a thing or two about combining simple ingredients to create crave-worthy seafood dishes. He has made it his mission to educate people on eating the right types of seafood, emphasizing that sustainable tastes better. His culinary background, in-depth knowledge of seafood and contagious charisma have made him an expert in all things seafood – and these are some of his favorite ingredients to pair with Tilapia when the weather heats up.

Blood orangesBlood Oranges

Chef Gruel calls them “an amped up orange with more bite, power, and color.” We couldn’t agree more. Add blood orange juice after cooking, “to accent the natural sweetness of your Tilapia and cut through some of that velvety rich flavor.” Or use it as a salsa. Nothing says “summer” like this Citrus Crusted Tilapia with Blood Orange Salsa from How Sweet It Is. Can’t find blood oranges? Any orange will offer a similar flavor profile.


Lemon zestLemon Zest

The outermost part of a lemon rind, zest is like magical fairy dust when it’s sprinkled into a recipe. Chef Gruel calls it “high-quality perfume for your fish.” Try adding it on top of your grilled, roasted, or poached Tilapia for a simple boost of flavor. Or try it in Bobby Flay’s Grilled Tilapia with Lemon Butter, Capers and Orzo.



Some foods naturally belong together. Rice and beans. Peanut butter and jelly. Seafood and… zucchini? Absolutely, according to Chef Gruel. He says the “simple and vegetal flavor” of zucchini is a perfect balance with the “modest flavor of fish” – especially when “glued together with a little citrus.” Want more proof? Try this Hazelnut Crusted Tilapia with Zucchini Ribbons from



Cucumber is one of the freshest flavors in the garden and, according to Chef Gruel, a perfect match for seafood because it “imparts freshness in the form of snap and juice/water.” Cucumber works nicely in a Tilapia salad or chopped as a salsa with peach or tomato. Or try this recipe from Martha Stewart: Tilapia and Onion with Feta and Cucumber.


Green applesGreen Apple

Sure, many people think of apples as a fall treat. But why not take advantage of the refreshing tartness of a good green apple during the hot summer months, especially since it “balances nicely with the sweet and sometimes rich flavor of Tilapia,” according to Chef Gruel. Also, he adds, “the texture pops on the palette by adding a fresh crisp bite.” Try this nice summer Tilapia Salad with Apples and Almonds from Real Simple. Or simply cut your apple into match sticks, toss it with some lemon juice, and top off your tilapia with a burst of sunshine.

This summer, mix it up a little and try adding some of these fresh ingredients to brighten up your Tilapia. They’re fresh, healthy, and full of summer flavor!