How to make Ginataang Tilapia?

Ginataang tilapia is fish with spinach cooked in coconut milk. I am specifically using tilapia, a fish belonging to the tilapiine cichlid tribe, for this recipe. Red snapper and mackerel works well too. The word “ginataan” (also spelled as guinataan) is a Filipino cooking method that involves coconut meat or cream. It literally means cooked in coconut milk.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 25 hour
TOTAL TIME: 35 minutes
SERVINGS: 3 people

✓2 pieces tilapia cleaned
✓2 cups coconut milk
✓4 cloves garlic crushed
✓1 piece onion chopped
✓1 thumb ginger cut into strips
✓2 pieces long green pepper
✓2 tablespoons fish sauce
✓2 pieces Thai chili pepper
✓1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
✓2 cups fresh spinach
✓3 tablespoons cooking oil


  1. Heat the cooking oil in a cooking pot.
  2. Sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger in the hot oil
  3. Once the onion become soft, pour the coconut milk into the pot. Let boil and cover. Cook for 5 minutes between low to medium heat.
  4. Add the chili peppers and tilapia. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes.
  5. Add long green chili peppers and season with fish sauce and ground black pepper. Stir. Cook for 3 minutes.
  6. Add the spinach. Cover and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve hot. Share and Enjoy!

*You can add ½ cup water if the coconut milk starts to evaporate quickly. Some people like to put a bit of vinegar when cooking this dish.
*You can do so by adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar right after pouring the coconut oil. Salt can be used as a substitute for fish sauce.
*Feel free to use other leafy green vegetables besides spinach. Malunggay leaves, pechay, bok choy, and hot pepper leaves are good examples.
*Fresh tilapia can be used for this recipe. If doing so, it should be cooked for at least 10 minutes per side. Canned coconut milk can be used. It will make your dish creamier.