Sushi made with tilapia and topped with exciting things

So a little while back, Drew and I went to a local Asian grocery store that specialized in Japanese products. I wanted some sushi-grade fish, and being poor/cheap, decided to go with some tilapia. I already had some regular tilapia in my freezer, so I figured they could keep each other company. I recently impulse-bought some sushi from a Sunflower Farmer’s Market (which was pretty good sushi, as grocery sushi goes). And, as always happens when I eat sushi after having not done so for a bit, I proceeded to have a vicious craving for sushi that simply could not be done away with. So, the tilapia got used, along with egg (tamago), avocado, carrot, and some misc. other ingredients.

sushi pinwheels

I wanted to experiment, so I sliced some of the tilapia really thin and rolled it up, pin-wheel style, into a roll (pictured on the right above). It’s pretty hard to cut tilapia into thin slices, but I persevered! Also, I think I’m getting better at making the tamago, but am still not there yet. It involves pouring thin layers of the egg mixture into a frying pan and then rolling it up, but I kept letting it cook too long, so my final tamago chunk was a mish-mash of distinct thin layers. I figured I might as well take advantage of this, so I took the outermost layer of the tamago and used it to roll up a tilapia and avocado roll, for a bonus layer of deliciousness (pictured on the left, above).

I also wanted to play more with layering things on top of the rolls. I did some avocado, and also tried tilapia. Apparently, I need a thinner, more malleable fish to do it proper.

Closeup of rolls

They still looked pretty neat, though, especially with the addition of some sesame seeds and spicy tuna. There’s rumors on the internets that I should be using a separate piece of plastic wrap to make the toppings adhere to the roll, and then slice the roll before removing the plastic. This might make the fishes stick better, as well as prevent all sorts of weird bamboo mat lines from appearing in the rolls. I shall try that next time.

Avocado roll closeup

Next time, I think I will also eschew the tilapia in favor of a more hearty fish (say, tuna or eel), or simply some fake crab. The tilapia was…watery. And not particularly flavorful. Not sure if that’s just how raw tilapia is, or if it shouldn’t have hung out in my freezer so long. It worked fine when paired with other things, as long as there wasn’t too much tilapia, but in the rolls and nigiri where tilapia was the main ingredient, I wasn’t too happy. It was simply too wet, as well as too mushy.

Another thing: for some bizarre reason, I thought I had cucumber. I did not, so I decided to try a little bit of celery instead. Luckily I only put it into one roll, as it led to a slightly stringy roll whose flavor was overpowered with celery. Which is weird, because I never really thought celery had a big flavor in the first place.

Despite the celery and tilapia issues, everything worked out ok, because a.) the egg was delicious and b.) I overcompensated for the lack of cucumber by slicing up entirely too much avocado. Not that there can ever be too much avocado, as avocado is the Fruit of the Gods and all.

Here’s the “random jumble of sushi” platter that resulted from all of the rolling of the rollses:

sushi platter

So, my conclusions from this sushi session?

-Egg is awesome.
-So is avocado.
-Tilapia, not so much.
-Cutting things really thin leads to all sorts of aesthetic opportunities!
-Spicy mayo makes everything magical!

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  1. Jay January 12, 2010 5:21 pm

    Just make sure you Tilapia isn't from China. They swim and eat their own poop. :|

    Otherwise this looks good. :)

    • ptocheia January 14, 2010 12:08 am

      Eek, tilapia filled with poop does not sound appetizing!

      • ali May 28, 2015 2:21 pm


  2. Kimmiko April 15, 2012 6:30 pm

    Hey! Your food looks great! Just a little word of advice, when using raw fish try to make sure it's fresh never frozen because of the whole when it thaws it promotes bacteria growth, etc.. I've been told that the FDA does not regulate what "sushi" grade fish is but I def know from experience you get fresh never frozen Tilapia it has a light smell and nice texture when you do the sushi cuts(in slants).

    • ptocheia April 16, 2012 9:37 am

      I’ve been sticking to sushi-grade for raw fish these days, but yeah, back when I made that tilapia sushi I pretty much used anything and everything – and feel lucky I never got sick from doing so!

    • Robert July 25, 2012 10:53 pm

      But non previously frozen fish are susceptible to parasites

    • Andrew June 14, 2017 11:01 am

      This COMPLETELY wrong. You MUST use frozen fish. Freezing the fish kills the germs and PARASITIC WORMS.

  3. jelo September 26, 2012 3:54 am

    Presentation is not bad, not sure with the tilapya.

  4. AMJX June 6, 2016 9:38 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious.

  5. Mrballonnhands April 30, 2017 12:15 am

    All quality fish for sushi is always cryo frozen for a minimum of seven days as is customary in the preparation of "sushi" grade fish, sushi grade fish is Never, fresh…You should never eat raw "fresh fish"

  6. vowel23 May 23, 2017 1:50 am

    I've been told that the FDA does not regulate what "sushi" grade fish is but I def know from experience you get fresh never frozen Tilapia it has a light smell and nice texture when you do the sushi cuts24 hour check cashing

  7. VinaHost June 16, 2017 4:17 am