Cooking / Seafood

Fish Tacos

My husband grew up in Texas, right on the gulf, and yet his preferred seafood platter is deep fried. He doesn’t like much fresh fish, shrimp, or scallops. He will eat salmon (especially if it’s grilled), but I think that might be because he’s more resigned to the fact that I’m going to keep cooking it, so he better just get used to it.

One of the few places where he will eat a fresh piece of fish (that has not been cooked in hot oil) is in the case of fish tacos. I believe this to be true for two reasons: (1) his love of anything taco trumps his dislike of fish and (2) my fish tacos are amazing! The recipe and ingredients list looks long and intimidating, but I think that’s only because I broke it up into step. Have no fear, however, each step is pretty easy and the pay off is totally worth it. Your non-fish eating husband will go back for seconds and thirds.

Fish Tacos

I’ve broken the recipe into three parts, which makes the ingredient list look super long.

Here’s a shopping list for ya:

– 4 Tilapia fillets

– 1 bunch Cilantro

– Limeade (optional)

– 3-4 limes

– 2-3 garlic cloves

– Coleslaw mix

– 1 red onion

– cherry tomatoes

– 1 avocado (or more if you like to also dip your chips in it!)

– Mayo

– Sour Cream

– Sirracha (or other hot sauce)

– Corn tortillas

– Canola or vegetable oil

Ingredients for each component (this was enough for three tacos each for two of us):

The fish

– 3-4 small tilapia fillets (you could use any white fish: mahi mahi, catfish, cod, or even shrimp!)

– 1/2 cup limeade (I had this handy b/c I make margaritas on the side, but you could use plain lime juice)

– 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (about a handful)

– 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

– 3-4 Tbsp olive oil

– Seasoning of your choice: I’ve used Old Bay, Lawry’s, or good ole salt and pepper

The slaw – I usually just eye this and make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. These measurements are estimates.

– 1 small bag of coleslaw mix (you could use just plain shredded cabbage if you prefer)

– 1/4 cup chopped red onion (or more if you prefer!)

– 1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes (or less if you prefer… do you see the pattern here?)

– 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

– juice of 1-2 limes (depends on the size and your preference)

Magic Sauce – this I found at The Londoner’s website and am now addicted!

– 2 Tbsp mayonnaise (I use the real stuff)

– 3 Tbsp sour cream

– 1/2 – 4 Tbsp sirracha (I used about 1 Tbsp and it had a little kick)


Also needed…

– One avocado (we mash ours, but you could cube or slice) with a little salt and lime juice

– Corn tortillas

– Vegetable or canola oil (to fry the tortillas.. I’ll provide a low fat option below)

Phew.. have you made it this far? It sounds like a lot of ingredients and work, but it really isn’t! I promise!

1. Marinate the fish.  Combine the limeade (or juice from 2 limes) along with the minced garlic and cilantro. Muddle the cilantro and garlic in the bottom of the bowl. You can use the back of a spoon in you don’t have a muddler of any sort. I also picked up this muddling step at the Londoner’s website and I like it! Then wisk in the oil.  Place the fillets in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over top. Sprinkle with seasoning of your choice: Lawry’s, Old Bay, or salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Make the slaw. Simply dump the colesalw mix, chopped onion, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Squeeze the juice of 1-2 limes into the mixture and toss to coat. You want enough juice that the mixture is coated, but not so much that it pools in the bottom of the bowl. Set aside.

3. Make the sauce. Simply combine the mayo, sour cream, and hot sauce in a small bowl. Mix well and pop in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

4. Cook the tortillas. I suggest doing step 4 and 5 at the same time. Or, make your husband do step four, while you work on five. Or, just do them one at a time.. it will all be okay in the end.

     – Yummy, but fattening way to cook the tortillas: Heat about 1/2 an inch of cooking oil in a small saucepan over med-high heat (use canola or vegetable, olive oil has too strong a flavor). Test the oil by dipping the edge of a tortilla in the oil, if it begins to bubble right away, then you’re good to go. If the oil isn’t hot enough, then your tortillas will sit in it and absorb oil, which will yield a greasy mess.  Now, you’re only heating the tortillas enough to soften them. We don’t want them crispy. So put the tortilla in for about 3-5 seconds on each side – trust me – that’s it. Then set on a plate covered with paper towels to cool/drain.

     – Low fat way to cook tortillas: Place your tortillas on a cookie sheet and brush with a thin coating of oil (you can use any type in this case) OR spray the heck out of them with cooking spray. Flip the tortillas and do the same on the back side.  Place under your broiler on low and keep an eye on them! If I had a dollar for everytime I forgot things under the broiler, I would seriously be filthy rich!  Depending on the heat of your broiler it should only take a couple minutes on each side. Again, your goal is only to heat and soften them, not to crisp them.

5. Cook the fish. Heat a medium skillet to med-high heat. I’d recommend cast iron or a grill pan if you have one. Then throw the fish on. They shouldn’t need any cooking oil because fish release moisture and because your marinade contains oil. Turn the heat down to medium and cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Mine took a little longer because they were still a tiny bit frozen in the middle. You’ll know they are done when you can flake them with a fork and the sides are white. Remove them from the skillet to a plate and use a fork to break the fish up into bite-sized, taco-friendly pieces.

6. Assembly! It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for! Here is how I believe the perfect fish taco should be assembled: first, smear some mashed avocado down the center of your tortilla, top with fish, then slaw and a drizzle of that magical spicy, creamy sauce.  You may need to add a dash of salt or a squeeze of lime to taste. I served these with a side of refried beans. I usually like a margarita on the side, but in this case (because I’m pregnant) I invented the following Marg Mocktail….

Marg Mocktail

1. Rim one glass with course salt (first rub a lime wedge around the top, then dip in salt)

2. Add ice.

3. Fill the cup 2/3 up with limeade.

4. Fill the remainder of the glass with ginger ale.


Not too shabby!



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