This Is The Difference Between Pla Pla And The Tilapia

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The tilapia fish is one of the more popular kinds of fish you will see on the market. It's an affordable fish that is plentiful and delicious. Plus, it's easy to cook and doesn't require much preparation. 

There are many species of tilapia. The tilapia is actually not a native one, and it is originally from Africa. A hybrid species was probably introduced to the country and since the hybrid tilapia can survive in freshwater as well as brackish water (a mixture of seawater and freshwater), the fish thrived in our waters.

Among the many kinds of fish in the market, including tilapia, there is one kind of fish that might have confused you with its looks. It looks very much like a tilapia but it's not called a tilapia. It's called a pla pla

What is the difference between the pla pla and the tilapia

It's all about size. An average tilapia will commonly weigh in at less than or around 400 grams and would be around 6 inches in length. You might see that some tilapia are larger-sized tilapia, around 8- up to 10-inches or longer in length. Growing beyond the normal weight and size of your average tilapia, it is these giant tilapia fish that are called pla pla.  


So, that means you can call "pla pla" a big tilapia, but you can not call a tilapia, a pla pla.

Now that that is settled, you can cook tilapia and of course, the pla pla, in a number of ways. Here are easy fish recipes that we think you should try using either the tilapia or the bigger pla pla:  

Photo by Patrick Martires
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1 Fried Tilapia Recipe 

The easiest way to cook this fish is to fry it. It's a simple preparation that starts with your fish vendor. Remember to request that the gills and inner organs be removed to avoid any accidentally getting food poisoning from anything the fish has eaten. The removal of the inner organs is the advice of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) with regards to how to prepare fish during the times when the red tide alerts are active. 

Once home, it's just a matter of making those cuts, seasoning the fish with salt, pepper, and maybe some five-spice powder for a bit of pizzazz to your fish meal, and frying it until crisp! 

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2 Tilapia Strips Recipe

Have you ever been served a large whole fish whose fillets were each carefully stripped from its bones, cut into strips still attached to the bones, and fried whole? This magnificent fish is usually a pla pla, not a tilapia. However, that shouldn't prevent you from using a tilapia for this recipe!

You don't have to do it like a chef but you will need to fillet the tilapia to get those strips. You can ask your fishmonger to do this for you too before you leave the supermarket. Once home, prepare the fish, fry it, and dip it! 

Photo by Majoy Siason

3 Sinigang na Tilapia Recipe

Sinigang doesn't always have to be pork or shrimp. Why not use your favorite fish aka the tilapia or the pla pla for this sinigang for a great and affordable option? You still get the same sour notes from the sampaloc paired with the clean taste of the fish shining though.  

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4 Steamed Tilapia Recipe 

If you really want to make an easy fish recipe, steaming is the way to do it. It can be as simple as seasoning the fish with salt, and placing it in the steamer. Go beyond that with different spices and herbs, liquid seasonings, or even top it with a trio of different kinds of onions for a meal that's fast and easy to make as it is to cook.      

Photo by Hans Fausto

5 Tilapia Curry Recipe 

If you want a fish recipe that's loaded with flavor that's still easy to cook, try a curry! This fish curry using tilapia is a simple curry recipe that features the essential coconut milk, curry powder, and a few vegetables to make it heartier. You just need to fry the fish so the flour coating can help thicken and make the curry sauce even more appetizing. 

Not a fan of curry! Skip the curry powder and make it into a ginataan dish instead. 


Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on by submitting your recipe here.

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