How To Cook The Best Ginataang Tilapia – A Famous Filipino Dish Recipe

Have you been craving something creamy, saucy, and at the same time, healthy? It’s perfect to meet you here because we will teach you how to make the delicious and the best Ginataang Tilapia! 

Anything served with ginataan is assumingly extraordinary. I know, too, that you’ve already had food that has coconut as one of its main ingredients. Even though those you have tried might be utterly mouthwatering, we assure you that this will be one of the most remarkable ones you will never regret trying!

Hence, this read will help you learn more about this particular cuisine. It includes the different tools or appliances you may opt to use, variations, and the other foods that will perfectly go along with this ginataan meal. As we learn how to make this exceptional cuisine, rest assured that you will appreciate this even more while learning and enjoying the process.

We can’t wait for you to try this, so let’s get started!

What is Ginataang Tilapia

(Photo Credits to: Ajinomoto)

Considering the Philippines to be a tropical country with so many beaches and beautiful scenery, you won’t be disappointed by the things discovered and still unseen in this country. So, what are some of the things you look forward to? Food, of course!

The Philippines is quite famous for its very extraordinary and delicious cuisines. A perfect example of them is the Ginataang Tilapia that we will be preparing today. But what is it precisely to others who are not familiar with it? 

This cuisine is a stew made from fish and leafy veggies such as petsay ( also known as snow cabbage, Chinese chard, or Chinese white cabbage in English ) with coconut milk or gata as the base of its sauce. In English, it means “fish stewed in coconut milk. “ 

As we have seen and tried different recipes that also use gata, this particular cuisine is one for the books! It is one of the simplest and easiest meals you can do with Tilapia. 

Ways To Make The Best Ginataang Tilapia Dish

There are different ways to choose from making this cuisine. It depends on the availability of the tool and the purpose of which you will pick. Here are some of the ways that you can apply when you want to make this tilapia menu:

By using a Crockpot

A Crock-Pot is an electrical appliance that allows you to stew food at a lower temperature than other methods. Generally speaking, Crockpot is used when a particular food is left to simmer low and slow. That is why crockpot recipes are often prepared using this type of method. 

It is an excellent choice to stew using a crockpot, most especially if it’s Tilapia, our main ingredient. For soups and stews, using this method is a perfect choice. It’s the option you might want to consider if you wish to do that traditional and slow preparation style to enhance the Tilapia’s flavor.

Before you start, keep in mind that unlike other meats such as chicken, pork, and beef, which requires a long time to soften and tender, fish recipes are speedy and easy to prepare. It may take you just 30 minutes or less, depending on what type of variation you want. 

By using a Pressure cooker

This appliance is not advisable to use when preparing recipes of this kind because it softens food quickly. Still, if you are in a hurry and want your Tilapia to soften and be done immediately, you can use it to prepare this cuisine. 

When it is set on “high,” recipes like this usually take 4 minutes, and then the appliance releases quickly. On the other hand, if the fish is frozen, it usually takes 6 minutes for ginataan recipes like this to soften, then immediately release right after.

Cooking through an Instant pot

An instant pot is like a combination of the two above mentioned appliances. It is only different because of the usability, technology, and control the instant pot has that the other two don’t.

Instant pot recipes like this finish in as fast as 5 minutes or less, depending on what type of variation and kind of fish you will be stewing. It gives you the convenience that everybody wants and also less the mess in terms of preparation. 

Filipino Recipe Variations

You know it will already taste incredibly remarkable when you’ve heard that it has gata as one of its main ingredients, right? However, this tilapia menu will taste more exciting and become healthier if we add other elements, such as different vegetables. Some yummy variations that you can try are as follows:

With Kangkong Recipe

(Photo Credits to: Steemit)

There is a wide variety of ingredients that you can add while making this particular ginataan. One of them is with kangkong

Kangkong is also known as swamp cabbage or river spinach in English. This leafy vegetable grows where there’s a lot of water. It is very accessible and easy to find, plus very affordable at the same time. 

This leafy vegetable is healthy in many ways. Kangkong is one of the top sources of iron, magnesium, and calcium that are important for keeping the bones and teeth healthy. It also prevents constipation because of its high fiber content. 

The first thing that you need to do is to saute the sliced onion and garlic with ginger in the pot with oil. Once they are soft enough, pour the gata into the pan, let it boil, and leave it for five minutes in low to medium heat. Season it with patis, salt, and pepper to taste.
Next is to add the kangkong. Always keep in mind that leafy veggies such as kangkong soften quickly. That’s the reason why they are last added to the procedure.

Spicy Ginataang Tilapia Dish

(Photo Credits to: Pinterest-Philippines)

Why not add a kick to spice up your day with this variation? 

If you prefer your ginataan to be a bit hot, you will need red chilis to list your ingredients. Red chili is the most common ingredient to use when you want your food to be spicy. One to two red chilis is enough for the whole serving, but it is up to you if you’re going to spice it up a little bit more. 

Aside from the usual red chilis, some use cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin seed, and many others to spice different foods. 

This spicy ginataan variant will let you get some more rice. Make sure to serve a cold beverage alongside your meal. 

With Talong Recipe

(Photo Credits to: Pinay cooking corner)

Besides adding green leafy veggies, eggplants or talong can be an excellent combination of this ginataan. 

In this variant, you have to fry the eggplant first until it turns slightly brown. Frying it will ensure that the eggplant is already edible. Proceed to the initial steps, then add the fried eggplant into the mixture when the ingredients and the aromatics are ready. 

Season them with salt, pepper, and fish sauce to taste, let it steam for a bit, then it is ready to serve. 

Eggplants or talong are high in fiber and low-calorie food rich in vitamins and minerals essential for the body. It helps reduce the risk of heart disease and helps with weight loss making it an excellent addition to a healthy diet meal. 

With Kamias

Some like to add vinegar in their ginataan recipes, but aside from putting vinegar, we can add Kamias instead. 

Bilimbi, cucumber tree, or tree sorrel are the other names for Kamias. They commonly grow in backyards and are eaten either raw or dipped in rock salt. Adding kamias to foods gives a bit of a sour taste. 

The kamias blend perfectly with this creamy ginataan meal. This food is something you will surely love and appreciate. Try sharing this with your family and friends.

With Malunggay (Moringa)

(Photo Credits to: Panlasang Pinoy)

Malunggay is famous for being one of the healthiest green leafy veggies on the planet. Studies have shown that it can treat some illnesses like treating headaches, lowering blood sugar, and cholesterol.

That’s why aside from the commonly used veggies to add to this delicious cuisine, such as bok choy and kangkong, consider using the healthy and nutritious malunggay the next time you explore this one. 


f you encounter some difficulties and minor problems, these things might help you save your food. 

  • If your finished ginataan happens to be saltier than what you’ve expected it to be, add more water, then let it boil. 
  • Sometimes being extra careful in putting ingredients might cause the food to lack some flavors. When this happens, you can add more fish sauce, salt, black pepper, or salt to intensify the taste and meet the standard taste that you want. 

Filipino Recipe Trivia

Have you noticed that the list of ingredients includes vinegar? You might be puzzled why there is vinegar in addition to the coconut milk. Here’s why. 

Vinegar has the power and advantage to lessen the fishy odor and taste in the food. It also improves the taste of not just ginataan but also other recipes. It also prolongs the food’s shelf life, so guaranteed that you can still eat and enjoy it if you happen to have leftovers. 

Moreover, it is your choice what kind of gata you want to use in this ginataan. It can be from the creamy liquid from a mature coconut itself, or you can buy packed or canned variants from the grocery stores. But if you choose to use the extracted one, your prepared food will be more flavorful with a deliciously rich and creamy taste. 

But how do you get this from the fruit? 

First, you have to use kudkuran,” or scraper, to grate the coconut milk meat. Second, after scraping with the amount you will need, you must use both of your hands to squeeze it. For a fine and clear cream, make sure to use a filter. 

Lastly, when you’ve gathered enough for your desired servings, add it to your other ingredients. 

Tips when Cooking Ginataang Tilapia

To further improve this menu and to be able to taste the most out of it, here are some tips we want to share with you for you to take note of and try.

  • To avoid the coconut from burning, make sure that your heat is in a deficient range. It is very prone to scorch at a very high temperature.
  • If you’re not a big fan of spicy food, you can replace it with sliced bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, or other mild vegetables instead of the red chilis. These substitutes will be of help in giving extra flavors to the food. You can apply this to the other recipes too.
  • Make sure to briefly saute the aromatics (onion, garlic, and ginger) before putting other ingredients. It is to unlock more of their natural pungent flavor. 
  • Always have your heat low when cooking this meal. Intense heat may affect other ingredients changing the product’s expected outcome and the flavor of the food.
  • Frying before submerging it in the sauce will intensify the taste even more. But make sure to use a spatula while frying to avoid the fish from ripping.
  • You can use other green leafy veggies such as malunggay, bok choy, spinach, and mustasa aside from the Chinese cabbage or petsay. They will add some more delicious tastes and provide you with so many health benefits.  
  • Make sure to choose the freshest ingredients available to get the desired flavor and reduce the risk of any foodborne illnesses.

Other Filipino Dish Perfectly Served With

Milky recipes are very flexible to partner with any other recipes there is possible. With its versatility, you can never go wrong with anything creamy.

Some of the Philippine cuisines we think will be the perfect pair for our menu are listed below. 

  • Rice- most of the Filipino recipes are perfectly paired with a hot steamed bowl of rice. It will be perfect if you put its sauce on top of your rice. Yum!
  • Pork Sisig– with its unique and extraordinary flavor, it will be the perfect pair for our creamy ginataan. If you are a fan of spicy food, then it is the ideal meal for you.
  • Crispy Pata– since crispy pata is already yummy because of frying, it will undoubtedly go perfectly with our menu. The creamy taste of ginataan will complement the crunchy and flavorful goodness of the crispy pata. The kids will also love this pair. 
  • Fried Pork Chop – if you are a heavy eater, then this combination will be perfect for you too. The crisp of this fried pork, slightly dipped in the ginataan sauce, is mouthwatering. You should try this!
  • Maja Blanca– After finishing this menu for your lunch or dinner, a small serving of Maja Blanca will take all the aftertaste left in your tongue with its creamy and sweet delicious taste! What a perfect combination!
  • Soft drink or Juice– any ice-cold beverage you like and feel like drinking will perfectly blend and go with this ginataan meal. It would help you feel more refreshed, especially if you tried the spicy flavor variant.


This unique cuisine is one of the easy recipes you can do with Tilapia. The experience is worth doing and certainly worth the try. You will enjoy the preparation, the cooking process, and of course, the finished meal. 

The coconut milk ingredient is the main factor that makes it exceptional and extra delicious. These facts make it not just delightful but also nutritious, offering so many health benefits. Amazingly, it will benefit the people who will be eating and enjoying this.

Try this now with the information we gave you. We’re certain that you won’t regret cooking this. Please make sure to share and enjoy it with your family members. 

Don’t forget to let us know what you think and what your family thinks of it too. Hooray for another delicious and nutritious meal! 

For more delicious recipe, visit Eat Like Pinoy!

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How To Cook The Perfect Ginataang Tilapia

This dish is one of the most delicious Philippine cuisines. Experience its delightful taste by preparing the listed ingredients and following these uncomplicated procedures.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Keyword Seafood Recipes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 116kcal
Cost $5-$20


  • 4 pcs Tilapia medium size
  • 1/2 tsp Ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Salt to taste
  • 1 cup Coconut milk
  • 1 thumb Ginger cut into circles
  • 2 pcs Long green chili
  • 1/4 cup Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1 pc Onion cut into strips
  • 8 pcs Bok choy


  • In a cooking pan over the stove, put the onion and ginger.
    Note: Do not turn on the heat yet.
  • Then cover the tilapia with bok choy and put on the pan over the onion and ginger.
  • Put-in the remaining onion and ginger over the tilapia. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the vinegar, water and long green chilies then turn on the heat. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  • Then pour-in coconut milk and stir occasionally to avoid curdling. Once it boils, lower the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Serve while hot! Enjoy.


Calories: 116kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 303mg | Potassium: 124mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 89IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 2mg
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