Help me slow cook this grilled tilapia recipe
February 12, 2018 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Defrosted some tilapia filets this weekend that I meant to grill yesterday, didn't get around to it. I'd like to cook these in the slow cooker today so they'll be ready to eat around 5-6pm tonight, looking for the easiest way to do this.

Recipe here.

After doing some googling I was somewhat surprised to learn people can successfully slow cook fish, with most recommending that you wrap in foil before to help with smell and even cooking.

Ideally I will be putting all this together around 12-1 today, although I won't be back home til after 8. I would like to have this ready for my girlfriend around 5-6, and can prepare the slaw/other toppings ahead of time. However, I'd like to make it easy for her to get the fish out of the slow cooker/instant pot, which is why I'm a little wary of wrapping in foil- she's going to be tired after a long day of work and I'd like to prevent her having to unwrap hot foil if possible.

So, my plan as of now is to let the 3 tilapia filets slow cook for about 4 hours on low, hoping they are done around 5 pm. If you were in my shoes, what's the best way to go about this? I'm not too concerned about the difference in flavor of slow cooker vs grill, but I do have liquid smoke if that would help.

Any tweaks or suggestions on the recipe are appreciated: mainly, I'm wondering if the foil will make a huge difference. If it's totally worth it, I'll go that route but if it doesn't matter too much I would rather make it as easy as possible. Thanks for reading!
posted by andruwjones26 to Food & Drink (8 answers total)
Tilapia just kinda falls apart in a slow cooker without the foil, and honestly I've been unimpressed with it every single time. Takes maybe 10 minutes to fry it up in butter and will be 10x as satisfying . . .
posted by aspersioncast at 9:13 AM on February 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Tilapia will very likely fall apart after being cooked that long, even at a low temperature. She is going to have either scoop out many tiny pieces of fish or unwrap hot foil, so I would go with hot foil myself. She can leave it to cool for a few minutes before touching it, but there will still be steam and hot spots possible.
posted by soelo at 9:13 AM on February 12, 2018

Thanks aspersioncast and soelo- I will definitely go the foil route. I thought about baking it/frying it ahead of time, but that would require her to reheat cold leftovers and I'm worried that might be too dry. I'm thinking that I'll wrap all 3 together to make it as easy as possible, but definitely worried about the steam/hot spots (sorry for threadsitting!)
posted by andruwjones26 at 9:25 AM on February 12, 2018

If texture is your concern, slow cooking fish filets for hours will almost certainly be drier than cooked, cooled, and reheated. They'll be wet but the actual meat will be way overcooked.

I'd bake them on foil (or better yet, parchment), maybe slightly less than 100% done, then fold them up into a packet. Parchment can be reheated on a plate in the microwave for 30 seconds. Foil can go back in the oven for 5 minutes.
posted by supercres at 10:38 AM on February 12, 2018

this is a bad idea. Don't do this. I could see a slow cooker potentially working as like a meaty confit-y kind of fish prep, but tilapia isn't the right fish. Just pre-cook it.
posted by JPD at 11:09 AM on February 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Skip the slow cooker, you'll just be making fish mush. Microwaving fish is super quick and you have a nice, moist piece of fish when you're done.

Just don't overdo it, depending on the thickness of the fish, just add a bit of moisture (wine, water, broth or ???) to a covered dish and microwave it 1 minute, check it, then 30 seconds at a time to the doneness you like)
posted by IpsoFacto at 12:13 PM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding microwave it, either in a covered container or well-wrapped in parchment paper.
posted by mareli at 2:47 PM on February 12, 2018

Thanks for the replies everyone! For any future people in this situation:

I ended up using the slow cooker wrapped in foil for 4 hours, and the results were surprisingly good. It was a little dry and certainly falling apart, but the "wetness" of the dish helped compensate. So, happy to report overall good results cooking tilapia in the slow cooker
posted by andruwjones26 at 8:43 AM on February 13, 2018

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