You can use this same recipe with almost any kind of whitefish including cod, flounder, sole, and even catfish. There are also some similar recipes out there that include dipping the fish in egg and flour as well, but in my opinion they're kind of messy and not necessary most of the time. After you've done fish this way though, test out a more complicated variant and decide for yourself.
Tilapia or other whitefish filets- any amount
Breadcrumbs- about 1/3 cup per fillet
Large bowl or dish with deep sides
Fish is a little lighter than most meats, so I typically plan for slightly more per person. For example, if I would normally plan for about 1/2 a pound of beef, I usually aim for 2/3rd-3/4ths of a pound of fish.
This is 5 tilapia filets, weighing a total of about 2 pounds.
Put a few tablespoons of oil in your frypan and preheat on medium while you bread the fish.
Pour the breadcrumbs into a large bowl or dish. If you'd like, slice the filets in half so they are easier to handle when you are frying them.
Take your fish, one piece at a time, and dunk it in the breadcrumbs. It's easier to just use your hands for this step- you can wash them off later and since fish is soft, a lot of utensils will poke holes in it.
Flip the fish over and coat the other side as well. Scoop up some of the breadcrumbs and pour them over the top to make sure every nook and cranny is coated.
Another way you can do this is to put the breadcrumbs in a large plastic bag, like a 1-gallon ziploc, then add the fish and shake it to coat. This works better if you've cut the fish in to smaller pieces.
I like to coat all the fish at once and then fry it, but if you are in a hurry you can drop the first few pieces directly into your heated frypan while you finish with the rest.
The fish should sizzle when you put it into the pan- you can test to see if the pan is hot enough by dropping a single drop of water into the pan. The way I like to do this to run my hand under the water from the sink and then let one droplet slide down a finger into the pan so I don't get to much- otherwise it splatters a lot.
I usually give fish filets like this no more than 4 minutes on a side- for really thin filets you can probably do as little as 3. The fish cooks quickly even on medium heat, and you don't want it to get overdone.
Using a large spatula, carefully flip the fish over and cook for 3-4 minutes on the other side as well. You can use something like a fork to help guide the fish as you flip it, so it doesn't splatter oil in the pan. I actually used my fingers, being careful to touch only the cool (uncooked) pat of the fish.
Once the fish has cooked for 7-8 minutes (total) it's done- you can take it off the heat and serve it right away. Season LIGHTLY with salt if desired. I like mac-and-cheese with fish cooked this way, but rice and noodles also go well. I usually avoid potatoes because they are kind of a heavy starch and it doesn't match well with the light fish. Unless you're doing fish-n-chips of course.