Nile Perch and Tilapia

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

The mainly freshwater family of true perches are fairly minor foodfish in both Europe and North America. More prominent today are several farmed relatives that provide alternatives to scarce cod and flatfish fillets. The Nile or Lake Victoria perch can grow to 300 lb/135 kg on a diet of other fish, and is farmed in many regions of the world. The herbivorous tilapia is also a widely farmed native of Africa; it’s hardy and grows well at 60–90°F/20–35°C in both fresh and brackish water. A number of different species and hybrids are sold under the name tilapia, and have different qualities. Oreochromis nilotica is said to have been cultured the longest and to have the best flesh. The Nile perch and tilapia are among the few freshwater fish to produce TMAO, which breaks down into fishy-smelling TMA.