Tilapia with Plums, Pasilla and Tequila

Tilapia with Plums, Pasilla and Tequila

Tilapia con Salsa de Ciruela, Pasilla y Tequila

Recipe Yield

6 servings

Cooking time

30 minutes

Rate this recipe

5 from 6 votes


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus 2 more for cooking the fish
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups slivered white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • 4 ripe plums halved, pitted, sliced
  • 4 to 6 pasilla chiles stemmed, seeded, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar or to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste, plus more to season the fish
  • 2 tablespoons silver tequila
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 tilapia fillets (about 6 ounces) skin on, or another flaky and mild tasting fish of your choice such as red snapper, rock fish, or grouper

To Prepare

  • Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy skillet set over medium heat. Once the butter melts and begins to sizzle, before it browns, add the onion. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until it softens and begins to gently brown around the edges. Add the garlic, mix well and cook for another minute. Toss in the sliced plums and chiles, sprinkle in the sugar and salt, stir, and cook for about 6 to 7 minutes. The plums should be cooked and gently browned and the chiles softened.
  • Pour in the tequila, gently tilt towards the fire to ignite it, cook until flames disappear. Add the orange juice, stir, and cook for a couple minutes more. Set aside.
  • Heat a couple tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the fish with a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. Sear the fish, skin side down first, for 2 to 3 minutes, until skin has crisped and browned. Flip the fish to the other side and cook until desired doneness, my choice is 2 to 3 minutes more.
  • Serve with a generous spoonfull of the chunky plum sauce on top.


38comments inTilapia with Plums, Pasilla and Tequila

  1. Kathy

    Apr 28

    This is an amazing recipe. The flavor is so unique and delicious. I recently discovered your program on PBS and am enjoying it so much. Thanks for a great program and wonderful meals!

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 20

      Thanks to you for following Kathy, un abrazo!

  2. Kat N

    Jul 28

    I love this recipe! I usually make it with local peaches & it’s great. Have served it over cod, chicken and once over thinly sliced pork loin – each wonderful. I often give the sauce a squeeze of fresh lime. One of our favorite meals.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 20

      Yummy ideas Kat, thanks so much for sharing 😉

  3. M J

    Jul 25

    I couldn’t find Pasilla, used Guaajillo instead. Not good due to Chile texture. Plum sauce was good.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 04

      Yep, pasilla and guajillo are really not good substitutes, in fact, pasilla is very unique!

  4. Brenda

    Jul 25

    This looks so delicioso Pati!
    Gracias por tus magnificas recetas 🙂

    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 04

      Gracias a ti por tu mensaje Brenda!

  5. N Scott

    Jul 25

    Sounds absolutely yummy!! Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 04

      Hope you like it Scott!

  6. Annette B

    Jul 17

    Getting ready to make this. What would be a good side to go with it?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jul 21

      Either a nice fresh salad or some rice, maybe like this? Enjoy!

  7. Lourdes Benjamin

    Jul 01

    Love this recipe, I’m cooking it again, this time with scallops and shrimp .
    Adding some dried prunes also.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jul 04


  8. OscarGabo

    Aug 12

    Lo hice con cherry plums. No tenia tilapia en ves use tofu frito en mantequilla.

    Gracias Pati!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 12

      Gracias a ti Oscar! Ahora si que creaste tu propia receta a partir de la mia, me encanta!

  9. Helmer

    Aug 04

    We decided to try this with Mahi-Mahi fish and it was amazing 🙂 A lovely blend of sweet and tart from the plums and the aroma of the peppers. It put a smile on our faces! Gracias!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 04

      Thanks to you for giving this recipe a chance Helmer 😉

  10. Iliana Velazquez

    Jul 29


    1. Pati Jinich

      Jul 31

      🙂 Gracias!

  11. CBaker

    Jul 24

    Dear Pati,
    Another fabulous recipe from your files! I l’m fond of fruit and chili sauces and this may be my new favorite.
    Didn’t overcook the black plums, so they were toothsome. Loved the texture and taste of the pasillas.
    I abhor frying fish (or anything), but the look and taste of the dish were worth the splatter.
    Used wild caught red snapper and red onion (fifo); the latter was beautiful in the sauce.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jul 26

      So glad to hear you loved this recipe, I am sure the red snapper was delicious with this sauce, gracias!

  12. Abraham

    Feb 21

    Muy rico……lo preare hoy para comida y cena….gracias por la receta

    1. Pati

      Feb 21

      Mil gracias, Abraham!

  13. Héctor Chavez

    Sep 06

    Hola Pati,
    Gracias por la receta, la mezcla de ciruelos con los chiles y el tequila es una delicia!

    1. Pati

      Sep 11

      Super! Gracias, Hector.

  14. Stephen Nycz

    Jan 23

    I used the prunes, too. It did not look as good as your picture, but it was SUUUUPER deeleescious.

    1. Pati

      Jan 26


  15. EastIcon

    Jan 17

    Used the dried pasilla peppers, soaked in warm water to soften. Didn’t have ripe plums but did have prunes (4 prunes = 1 plum). Thought the peppers would be chewy and plums too sweet (as well as melt away). But the finished product was delicious! Thanks Patti!

    1. Pati

      Jan 23

      So happy to hear. You created a new recipe!

  16. Griselda Hermosillo

    Jun 20

    We cooked this today… OMG, sooooo good. The sauce is OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD. Sweet and spicy and smoky and sour all at the same time.

    1. Pati

      Jun 30


  17. Carey Christensen

    Sep 15

    I’m also confused about the pasilla peppers. Do you recommend using fresh if available, or is using from dried without reconstituting preferred?

    1. Pati

      Sep 16

      Hi Carey, I use dried pasillas, seeded and sliced thin, for this recipe. The chiles will naturally soften and reconstitute as they cook in the juices that come out of the plums.

  18. Suzanne

    Aug 24

    Dear Pati,
    I watched this episode (#402) but can’t remember if you rehydrated the pasilla chiles first, or not, & the recipe doesn’t say they need to be rehydrated (I bought dried but they’re still somewhat flexible). Please advise & thanks.

    P.S.: Love your show!

    1. Pati

      Aug 31

      Hola Suzanne, No need to rehydrate the pasillas…they will soften as they cook with the plums. Thank you so much for watching!!

  19. Minerva Castillo

    Aug 06

    Hi Pati, Yesterday I made fish with plums and tequila but instead of fish I used pork chops.Ohhhhh! It was
    mouth watering.I can’t wait to try another of your recipes.One request I bought scallops,so I was wondering if you have a recipie for scallops. Thank you from Chicago

    1. Pati

      Aug 12

      Oh, that sounds delicious Minerva! As far as scallops, make Aguachile de Callo: Slice them thin, add some thinly sliced red onion and jalapeño, add a generous amount of fresh squeezed lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of sea salt. Done!

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