Tilapia with Plums, Pasilla and Tequila

Tilapia with Plums, Pasilla and Tequila

Huachinango con Salsa de Ciruela, Pasilla y Tequila
6 servings
Pati Jinich
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: grouper, orange juice, pasilla, pati's mexican table, plums, red snapper, rock fish, tequila, Tilapia
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Tilapia with Plums, Pasilla and Tequila recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 4, Episode 2 “Adventures in San Miguel”


  • 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.

24 comments on “Tilapia with Plums, Pasilla and Tequila

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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

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

    1. 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.

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

  7. 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. 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!