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Whole grilled Tilapia

Image credit: Nassima Rothacker

Whole Grilled Tilapia by Zoe Adjonyoh

London chef Zoe Adjonyoh shares her recipe for a traditional Ghanian style whole baked tilapia in this step-by-step recipe from her debut cookbook, Zoe's Ghana Kitchen.

Book Credit: Zoe's Ghana Kitchen by Zoe Adjonyoh is published by Mitchell Beazley, £20.00,

25 May, 2021
Average: 4.5 (4 votes)


serves for



2 fresh tilapia, scaled, gutted and washed
lime wedges
For the marinade
1 white onion, grated
Rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
5cm (2-inch) piece fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
green chilies
2 green kpakpo shito (cherry) chillies, deseeded and finely diced, or substitute green habanero chillies
juice of 1 lime
Spice blend
2 tablespoons ground grains of paradise, or substitute ½ teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
Chili Flakes
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
½ teaspoon ground hot pepper, or substitute cayenne pepper
to taste
Black pepper
To taste

Tilapia is the most common freshwater fish in Ghana, its meaty flesh providing a substantial meal. This recipe is based on a very traditional style of cooking tilapia that can be found all across Ghana. But if the idea of looking your dinner in the eye is intimidating, you can use tilapia fillets instead.

Step 01

Using a sharp cook’s knife, remove the gill coverings and hard fins from the tilapia – this is a messy job, so it’s worth asking your fishmonger to do it for you. Carefully cut 3 evenly spaced diagonal slashes into either side of the fish – tilapia skin is very thick, so you’ll need a firm, steady hand. Place the prepared fish in a dish.

Step 02

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together in a bowl or place in a blender or food processor and blend to a smooth paste.

Step 03

Pour the marinade over the fish, reserving a small amount for basting, and rub into the slashes and inside the cavity of each fish. Cover the dish with clingfilm and leave the fish to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

Step 04

Remove from the fridge a few minutes before you’re ready to cook and preheat the grill to medium-high. Place the fish on a baking tray lined with foil and cook under the grill for 25 minutes (add an extra 3–5 minutes if the fish are particularly large or thick) until nicely browned and cooked through, turning and basting with the reserved marinade halfway through the cooking time.

Step 05

Serve with Green Kpakpo Shito Salsa and Banku or plain boiled rice, along with lime wedges for squeezing over.

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