Tilapia with Plums, Pasilla and Tequila

This Mexican chile pepper is called “Chilaca” when used fresh. In California the Poblano chile is often called Pasilla. Since most of these are bought and distributed from California this mislabeling often carries over into the supermarkets nationwide causing alot of confusion. This chile is very mild and is usually consumed in the dry form to make the famous Mexican ‘mole’ sauces.

Heat Scale
Submit Recipe

Yields 6 Servings


  • 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


  • 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.

Recipe from Pati Jinich