Steal This Meal: Stewed Tilapia

Today’s gorgeous Steal This Meal submission comes from Tom Denham, of CrossFit North Fulton in Roswell, GA.  Tom writes, “I started the Whole 30 four months ago, and have had such good results that I’ve just kept it up. The best result is that I am sleeping soundly nearly every night.  I’m also lifting heavier weight for more reps in the gym and have dropped to 200 pounds from 213 while eating an enormous amount of food. I used to eat most meals in restaurants, but have been relearning to cook since dedicating myself to “clean” food. I started watching the Food Network for inspiration and got the idea for this recipe after watching an episode of Chopped.”

We love the variety of vegetables here, and the addition of olives to this dish.  Based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch for best choices for seafood, shellfish and sushi, we would recommend choosing U.S. raised farmed tilapia over other sources. You could also easily sub another light white fish like wild caught cod or mahi mahi.  Finally, we asked Tom about the inclusion of clam juice in the recipe, in case readers are allergic to shellfish.  Tom replied, “I think you can omit the clams without a problem. Cutting them would reduce salt, liquid, and flavor, though, so you may want to add a small amount of salt, some water, and a little more Fish Sauce.”

Steal This Meal:  Stewed Tilapia (Serves 4)

Ingredient list:

  • One can of green olives (look for olives packed in water and salt and nothing else)
  • One small can of clams (look for clams packed in clam juice and salt and nothing else)
  • One bunch of green onions
  • Four roma tomatoes
  • One package of shitake mushrooms
  • Four  tilapia (or other white fish) filets
  • Fish Sauce
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper

The ingredients, plus some Golden Delicious apples for dessert

In preparation, perform the following:

  • Finely chop onions
  • Coarsely chop mushrooms
  • Cut tomatoes into cubes


  • Set heat to medium high. Coat the bottom of a pan with EVOO.  Add onions and sauté with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Add green olives with all the water in the can and clams with all the juice in the can.
  • Add mushrooms and tomatoes. The salt with the olives and clams is substantial, but add pepper to taste.
  • Add generous splashes of Fish Sauce to enhance flavor, and let the mixture cook covered for about 15 minutes.
  • Lay the tilapia filets on top of the vegetable stew and let them cook covered for another 5 minutes. Turn the filets with a spatula and let them cook another 10 minutes.
  • Eat everything in the pan – the juice tastes great.

The final product, a light yet hearty Whole30 approved dish.

Got a delicious, simple list of ingredients for our next Friday recipe feature? Send your Steal This Meal entry (along with photos and YOUR Whole30-inspired story!) to  And if you’re looking for more delicious recipe ideas from Whole9 and our readers, just select “Recipes” from the category list on our sidebar!

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  1. says

    @Ann: While I appreciate the point you are trying to make, WE are trying to present a healthy, balanced, sustainable way of eating around here. And while tilapia isn’t the best choice as an animal protein source, understand that there are such a limited number of truly “best choice” protein sources that most of us couldn’t manage without including at least SOME “acceptable choices”. (I certainly couldn’t live on herring, sardines and anchovies alone.) We encourage people to make the best food choices they can, given their mental, financial and lifestyle capacities… but the occasional farm raised fish (much like the occasional store-bought chicken or Fleming’s steak) isn’t the end of the world.

    We prefer to eat wild caught cod, or fresh-off-Captain-Tom’s-boat mahi… but I mix in some tilapia once in a while for variety. However, Tom’s recipe can be made with a variety of protein sources, so if you decide to give it a shot with herring, let us know how it turns out!


  2. Tom Denham says

    I just cooked this dish again, only adding two more Roma tomatoes and subbing Baby ‘Bellos for Shitake mushrooms (cause that’s what I had in my refrigerator). It was good, but not as good as the original in my opinion. Maybe the added tomatoes hid the prominence of the green olives (which I love) or the ‘Bellos were not as flavorful as the Shitakes. In any case, I will go back to the original recipe next week.

  3. Dave A says

    My wife made this dish over the weekend omitting the clams and mushrooms. It was fantastic. The olives were a great addition and I really enjoyed them in there. Thank you, Tom, for submitting. I just finished the leftovers for lunch at work. The leftover juice (very tasty) helped get my squash down. :)

    It gets two thumbs up from our household!

  4. says

    i was inspired by this and made the following last night:

    i sauteed finely sliced leeks and onions in olive oil, when they were soft, i added a small can of roasted tomatoes, than half a jar of black olives and half the “juice”, also a tin of anchovies went in. i let the flavors blend for a while, then added a filet of wild sockeye salmon and a pinch of saffron. i let it “stew” for about ten minutes. i chopped fresh avocado into it when i served it.

    this was a lost stewier than soupie. and it was SO good. because of how rich it was (and i was just cooking for me), i had enough for dinner AND breakfast this morning.


  5. Tom Denham says

    I cooked Stewed Tilapia again, only subbing two ingredients and forgetting one – a whole leek instead of green onions, 3 ounces of smoked oysters instead of clams, no Fish Sauce. I just plain forgot the Fish Sauce when I was cooking, but the smoked oysters were such a strong flavor, I think it was a good thing. The overall flavor was good, but I think I like the original version best.

  6. says

    @Tom: Thanks for posting your updates. We JUST saw some beautiful Alaskan wild caught cod in our local market this week, so we’ll be giving this a go soon. I think we’ll stick to the original recipe, minus the clam juice (and according to your recommendations). Keep you posted as to what we think!


  7. Autumn says

    I just made this for lunch with my family today. I put shrimp in it for my husband and used cod instead of tilapia… I just tasted the juice and it is DELISH!!! Can’t wait to eat my cod. I will say that it was a little salty so I added some water, but I’m really sensitive to salt so it may not bother anyone else…

  8. Lorna Doone says

    Please advise what you mean by one pkg shitake mushrooms? My grocery sells them loose – can you give a weight estimate? Thx.

  9. Didi says

    Farmed raise Tilapia??? I’ve heard some pretty horrific things about this. Might want to do some research?? Farm raised…corn fed!

  10. says

    @Didi: We’ve written extensively on making the best (healthiest) seafood choices here (, but we also want our meals and recommendations to be accessible. The conscientious omnivore could certainly sub tilapia with wild-caught cod or halibut, but our Steal This Meal series is trying to get people thinking about how to make meals without the usual sides of pasta, rice or bread. Insisting that people ONLY eat the highest quality foods (grass-fed, organic, pastured, wild-caught) is too overwhelming for many, and certainly not as important of a first step as simply making better food CHOICES.

    This meal is a winning choice, and we’re thrilled to include it in our series.