Blackened Tilapia Sandwich with Simple Homemade Tarter

After our visit to the northwest earlier this year and after the amazing sandwich we fell in love with in Seattle at Pike Place Market, I decided since I couldn’t be there every day, I would make it at home.  (Was that a run on or just a long sentence?)

fish complete

The sandwich in Seattle was made with halibut but we don’t have 24 hour access to halibut here in the Tennessee landlocked grocery stores so I improvised with tilapia. It was so reminiscent of our sandwiches from vacation that I don’t think anyone missed the original!


You start out by caramelizing a large red onion.

fish tarter ing

Then you make your quick homemade tarter with mayo, salt, pepper, a pinch of thyme, lemon and capers.

fish tarter mixed

Mix and set aside. Even non tarter sauce loving people like this stuff!

fish seasoning

Drizzle oil on both sides of fish and season on both sides with blackening seasoning. I like blackening seasoning with no salt. Otherwise everything is too salty.

Take a large french baguette and divide into 4 sections about the length of the pieces of tilapia and cut in half length wise. Depending on the length of the baguette as a whole, you might need two baguettes. Place the bread in the oven to warm while you pan saute tilapia.

fish in pan

In a large skillet over medium heat saute fish on both sides 2-3 minutes.

fish tarter on bread

Meanwhile, spread warm bread with tarter sauce on both sides.

fish on bread

Top with the fish, caramelized onion, tomato and lettuce.  “Smushing” the sandwich down is the secret ingredient.


serves 4


4 large pieces of tilapia filet

1 large or two medium french baguettes, sliced to 4 sections (to length of fish)

2 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced

4 pieces of crisp lettuce (i used red leaf)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

3 tablespoons blackening seasoning(more or less to your preference) , preferably with no salt (i use fresh market brand)

1/4 cup olive oil (or regular) mayonnaise

1 tablespoons capers, drained

pinch of sea salt

5 grinds fresh pepper

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

pinch of dried thyme

Instructions and directions:

Heat oven to 250 degrees.

In a small pot over medium heat oil and add onions. Cook on medium low for 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together mayonnaise, capers, salt, pepper, lemon and thyme to make tarter. Set aside.

Drizzle olive oil on both sides of each piece of fish and sprinkle each side with 1 teaspoon of blackening seasoning.

Place all the bread in the oven to let it warm. It can go directly on the rack or on a sheet pan, it doesn’t matter. 🙂

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook fish 2-3 minutes per side.

Remove bread from oven and smear tarter sauce on each piece. Place fish on bottom bread piece and stack with onions, lettuce and tomato. Smush and serve.


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