Just Like Mom Used to Make {Lime-Pepper Maseca-Crusted Tilapia}

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of when I used to go fishing with my mom.  I loved everything about it!  I had my own fishing pole and a cute little tackle box.  We would spend hours sitting by the lake waiting for the fish to bite.  At the end of the day, my mom would fire up the grill and cook our catch of the day.

My mom made the best cornmeal-crusted fried fish, and she topped it with lots of lemon and black pepper.  She didn't use recipes, she just added everything (and anything) she liked.  Years later, I came up with a recipe that was almost identical to what my mom would make. 

So simple with delicious results.

Lime-Pepper Maseca-Crusted Tilapia


  • 4 to 6 tilapia steaks, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 cups Maseca (masa harina)
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (for frying)
  • Lime wedges (for garnish)

In a medium bowl or plate, mix together the Maseca, ground black pepper and lime zest.  Season with salt.

Season the tilapia with salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Pour the milk into a bowl and soak the tilapia in the milk for 10 minutes.  (This is a great trick to remove some of the "fishy" taste and smell of any type of fish!)

Coat the tilapia strips with the Maseca mixture.  (If you want it extra crispy, re-dip the tilapia in the milk and Maseca.)

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Fry the tilapia until it turns golden brown on both sides.  Season with more salt, if necessary.  (Sorry about the blurry picture.  It was the best of the bunch!)

Enjoy!!!  (For an even more intense lemon flavor, be sure to squeeze some fresh lime juice over the tilapia strips.)

With Love,


  1. What a sweet blog post. Happy memories and delicious food. Can't beat that!

  2. I love using the maseca for coating fish or chicken seems to make it crispier. Never thought of adding zest to the flour though. Thanks for the idea.

  3. Leslie, I LOVE this post! I love that you shared a special memory as a child with your mother and this recipe. I have 3 tilapia filets in my freezer needing to be used. I was going to panko crust them but I think I'll try your way.

    I can get Maseca here pretty readily but it's not something I will use. Is there any substitutions- maybe a mixture of cornmeal and flour? your thoughts?

  4. MONICA: You could use cornmeal, with or without any flour. When I lived in the States, I used pure cornmeal and it was DELICIOUS! :)

  5. oooh, this is something i can totally try :)

  6. That's a wonderful story, I love recipes with a great story! Thanks for the recipe, too, I've been looking for some new, good fish recipes, this sounds awesome. And thanks for visiting my blog on my SITS day! Please do let me know if you try out any of my recipes, I'd love to hear how they turn out!

  7. I'm making this tonight because its Lent and you know that us Catholics don't eat meat on fridays during Lent, but we eat seafood! My hubby wanted some tilapia tacos so this is what I'm gonna make with some spanish rice, pico de gallo, fruit salad, and some other stuff. YUM!

  8. Can u use it on steak like to make chicken fried steak

    1. I haven't tried this on steak, but I don't think there would be a problem with it. I have tried used the Maseca-Lime Pepper coating on chicken cutlets and the results were just as delicious. :)