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I recently cooked tilapia in foil packets. I used Season All, and topped eached filet with guajillo salsa (flavored with lime) and lime slices. I noticed a bitter aftertaste when I was eating the finished product. It wasn't unbearable, but I didn't like it. I'm thinking it was the lime slices. I'm by no means a cooking pro, so I was wondering if anyone knows if lime slices add bitterness when cooked? And if so, how to avoid?

My internet research didn't come up with anything definite. (However, I discovered this website in the process!)

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The pith of the lime (or any citrus) is quite bitter, but just cooking a few slices en papillote shouldn't be overpowering unless you ate the slices themselves. I'm not going to say it's impossible, as it's possible that it was an extremely bitter lime to start with. Lime and aluminum foil, however, especially if it's made in advance and had significant time in there, could cause some major leeching ... but I don't know if that would be bitter. You might want to try again using parchment paper, and see if it gives the same off-flavor. – Joe Aug 26 '12 at 2:26
I did not make the packets in advance. Cooked them for about 40 minutes. But after seeing the articles below, I think I'll definitely try parchment. (Or, not make packets at all.) – Bootsie Aug 26 '12 at 6:06
I've just cooked a delicious braised beef and Mashed potato setup with braised tomatoes in a wonderful burgundy, shallot and garlic sauce with a sauce made by deglazing with a bit of whiskey and I braised my bit of beef with limes wedges on top and my girlfriends without. Mine was absolutely horrendous and hers was beyond perfection. There was no question that is was the lime being broiled on top of the beef as I used no cover whatsoever. :/ sad day for me I've learned better now! Does anyone have info on how the en papillote worked out? – user14284 Nov 14 '12 at 6:23
Do you mean bitter or sour (as in acidic?) – Stefano Nov 14 '12 at 12:56
I like cooking parchment or oven bags (high temp plastic) for doing fish... Having said that, if I am in Brisbane instead of Melbourne (there's a banana tree in the back yard), a banana leaf serves as the best wrapper for fish as it serves as the protective foil, and it imparts its own moisture and aroma to the finished product. – Adrian Hum Nov 4 at 3:10

2 Answers 2

it was the wrong preparation of the fish. you have to be very extra careful when removing the innards specially the bile.

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Welcome! The question says nothing about how the fish was gutted. Most tilapia in the US, anyway, is pre-prepared so that you get finished fillets and aren't doing that work yourself. – Catija Sep 28 at 18:17
I think the -ve is a little harsh, I do have to agree that incorrectly cleaned fish does have a bitter taste from the bile and other fish offal; but this is my opinion as I do not have access to tilapia from your sources. But, it is most likely that your fish is suffering from a chemical reaction with the wrapper. – Adrian Hum Nov 4 at 3:12

I'd be a little concerned about mixing aluminum foil with acid foods. Aluminum acetate has an astringent taste. I'm not finding it on the internet, but aluminum citrate (from citric acid in the lime juice) likely has a similar flavor.

Here's a recent, and seemingly reputable look at cooking acid foods in Aluminum foil (PDF file): Risk Assessment of Using Aluminum Foil in Food Preparation

Using parchment paper rather than aluminum foil would avoid the possibility of producing bad tasting metal salts.

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Holy crap, why did I never know this? I've been cooking in aluminum foil packets for a long time! I think parchment will be my new friend. – Bootsie Aug 26 '12 at 6:05

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