Origins Of Fish Tacos
We didnt invent the fish taco, but were so grateful to whoever did!
Its believed that coastal fisherman in Mexico enjoyed fish tacos for thousands of years before the dish eventually became popularized in Baja California. To take a deeper dive into the history of fish tacos, read more here and here.
Faq And Tips For Making The Best Fish Tacos
- Are these tacos spicy? The red pepper powder does add a little kick. Adjust it to your preferences. Less if you want the fish super mild, or more if you want them spicy.
- Can I use frozen fish? Using fresh fish yields the best results, as the seasoning sticks on nicely. You can use frozen fish but will need to increase the bake time to 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of fish. Check on it at 15 minutes to see if it is done.
- How do I pan-fry the fish instead? Lightly oil a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Cook the marinated fish for about 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through.
- Can I grill the fish instead? Absolutely. Just grill each side for about 3 minutes.
- Can I make this in the air fryer? Yes, place the marinated fish fillets into the air fryer and cook at 375 F for 15-18 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.
- Are these gluten-free? Yes, if you are using corn tortillas.
Best Slaw For Fish Tacos
For fish tacos that are seasoned with a little spice , its nice to have a little acidity and sweetness to balance out the flavors. So we mixed up some chopped pineapple, onion, cilantro, cabbage, and lime juice.
You could easily sub mango for the pineapple, or throw in a jalapeño or serrano pepper for some more heat. Or, in a pinch, just whip up a simple pico de gallo. You could also try this quick, creamy avocado slaw!
We hope you LOVE these tacos! Theyre:
These tacos would make the perfect meal when you need something fresh and satisfying on the table fast. Theyre ideal for summer and pair beautifully with Garlicky Guacamole and Plantain Chips, 5-Ingredient Ginger Beer Margaritas, and 1-Pot Mexican Pinto Beans.
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Why Youll Love This Recipe
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Heidi Sze is a pre- and post-natal dietitian and nutritionist from the Mornington Peninsula. Her book Nurturing Your New Life was published in 2019. She has two kids, Joan and Walt, and shares thoughts on food and her life as a mostly stay-at-home mum over on her blog, Apples Under My Bed, and on . Every month, we publish a new recipe from Heidi as part of our Easy Dinners series.
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How To Make Fish Tacos:
Step 1: It starts with the flavorful spice rub. Stir together the simple flavorful spice rub, and season the fish on both sides.
Step 2: While the grill is heating up, mix up the tasty Cilantro Lime Cabbage Slaw.
Either chop the cabbage or buy a pound of pre-chopped cabbage in a bag. Add, onion, cilantro, jalapeño and fresh lime juice and toss.
This taco slaw keeps well and like I said before, gets even better the next day.
Step 3: Grill the fish, or use a grill pan on the stove. Squeeze with lime.
Step 4: Warm up the tortillas on the grill too. Feel free to use homemade tortillas or store-bought. I like a blend of corn and flour!
Assemble the Tacos. Place the grilled seasoned fish in the warm tortilla shell, top it with the crunchy, cool Cilantro Lime Cabbage Slaw, drizzle with a sauce , add avocado, cotija cheese, or grilled onions if you like.
I also love how simple and flavorful they are, while staying clean and lean. Low in both calories and fat, loaded up with healthy slaw, this offers a clean healthy break for the body.
And the best thing, the leftovers can be repurposed into lunch or dinner the next day by creating an easy buddha bowl. Add cooked rice or grain to a bowl, and top it with the leftover fish and the Cilantro Lime Cabbage Slaw- which, by the way, tastes even better the next day!
If feeling fancy, add this Chipotle Mayo to the mix and you have a feast for the senses!
Quick Pickled Cabbage For Tacos
I serve these tacos with a quick pickled cabbage. Pickling it makes the cabbage floppy so it kind of melds together better with the fish , and the slight tang is a classic pairing with seafood.
Heres what you need for the pickled cabbage:
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Why This Recipe Works
Easy Not sure what to do with that tilapia you have in your freezer? It was meant to be fish tacos. Just thaw,season, bake, and eat!
Versatile While I like to use tilapia or cod, you can also use any other meaty white fish, shrimp, or even chicken!
Healthy White fish has almost zero fat and tons of protein. Add corn tortillas, the slaw, and a bunch of salsa, and you have yourself an entirely healthy meal! No guilt here!
Great for meal planning Are you the sort of person who likes to plan out meals on Sunday for the week? This fish tacos with slaw should definitely go on your plan for Taco Tuesday! Its great for a weekday meal on those busy days and comes together in a flash.
Cabbage Slaw For Tacos
This cabbage slaw for fish tacos recipe is a crunchy and delicious topping!
- 1/2 pound shredded purple cabbage
- 1/2 pound shredded green cabbage
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
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How To Make Spicy Cabbage Slaw:
Remember that little can of chilies in adobo sauce that works its magic in copycat Chipotle Chicken? Hopefully, you have one in your pantryits the secret ingredient in this zesty cabbage slaw.
Chilies in adobo are actually chipotle chilies or smoked jalapeños, and theyre gloriously spicy. If youre making the slaw for a group, you may want to err on the mild side and use just one chili. If you know everyone likes a little heat, go for three.
The recipe calls for green cabbage, but if red cabbage looks better at the store, grab it instead. It will make things extra colorful! To get a step ahead of things, you can assemble the slaw up to a day in advance and store it in the refrigerator.
In a big bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice, minced chilies, olive oil, vinegar, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then fold in the cilantro*, scallions, and cabbage. Then chill it until its ready to eat.
*Hate cilantro? Leave it out!
Can I Make Fish Tacos Ahead Of Time
Lets say you want to throw a party, and fish tacos are on the menu. You can make almost every component at least two to three days ahead of time. Then, do the final breading and frying just before serving.
For the crema, mix it all together, and store it in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days. Some of the liquid may separate during that time, but dont worry. You can just give it a quick stir.
For the taco slaw, I prefer to chop everything up and keep the fresh ingredients in one container, then make the dressing and store it in another. This is because the color from the purple cabbage will bleed into the other ingredients. Do this up to two days before the party. Then, just before serving, give the dressing a good shake and toss it together with all of the vegetables and herbs.
For the fish, thaw and slice it to size 24 hours before the party. You can make the flour mixture up to a week in advance. Half an hour before you want to serve the tacos, bread and fry them. Dinners ready!
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Whats The Best Kind Of Fish For Fish Tacos
Any firm-fleshed, white flaky fish will do nicely. Think mahi-mahi, halibut, cod, flounder, grouper, even swordfish. Look for fresh fish, preferably from ocean waters.
Tilapia is also a sustainable option, as is catfish, but the flavors might not be as clean tasting as ocean fish.
Finally, you could make these with salmon, tootheyd still be fabulous. Any fresh fish that holds up to grilling is fine dont be afraid to ask your fishmonger for recommendations.
Why Make Crispy Fish Tacos
I mean, really, whats not to love about fish tacos? A crispy breading, loaded with chile powder and citrus, encasing tender, flaky white fish? Its perfect.
And the crunchy tang of lime-honey coleslaw that balances the heaviness of fried food? All I can say is, Ill take more of that, please! And the cumin, garlic, and citrus crema that adds a little creaminess to every bite? I love it all, and I want you to love it, too.
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Faq + Tips & Tricks For The Best Fish Tacos:
WHAT KIND OF FISH DO YOU USE FOR FISH TACOS? This works with any flaky, white fish. Cod, halibut, and tilapia all work well in fish tacos. You could also try mahimahi or catfish if you needed to. Just know, the length of time you need to cook it will be impacted by how thick your fillet is.
LETS TALK HEAT . As I mentioned above, I like cooking my fish fairly quickly over a hotter pan. A cast iron pan is my go-to because of the way it retains heat so well. I can get a really nice sear on my fish over medium heat in my cast-iron pan. If you dont have one, you can totally use whatever you have. Just be sure you have your heat set to at least medium or medium-high so you get a nice sear and cook the fish through without overcooking it.
NOW, LETS TALK HEAT . These fish tacos arent super spicy as written. Id categorize them as mild or possibly medium if you have a very low spice tolerance. Theyre very flavorful, but wont heat your mouth up significantly. Want to kick up the heat? There are lots of ways to do it! Try adding a generous sprinkle of chipotle chili powder to your spice blend or a little minced jalapeño to your cilantro slaw. Or, add a little heat via your creamy drizzle
How To Make Fish Tacos
There are three easy steps to making the fish tacos: prepare the fish, mix up the sauce, and prep the taco toppings. Heres a quick overview of the recipe. Youll find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions below.
Youll start by preparing the fish. Pat it dry with paper towels. Mix the seasonings together and sprinkle them over both sides of the fish. Gently pat the seasonings onto the fish to help them stick.
Cook the fish in olive oil in a nonstick skillet, cast iron skillet or grill pan. It will take 4 to 7 minutes per side to cook through. The fish is done when it registers 145° F on an instant read thermometer.
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How To Make The Best Fish Tacos With Lime Crema
There are three parts to this recipe: the fish, the slaw and the crema. One cannot exist without the other. Each part complements the other to a T.
Ingredients In Slaw For Fish Tacos
This super simple taco topping uses a handful of fresh, easy to find ingredients.
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Greek Yogurt and Mayonnaise: While we could just use one or the other, I find that a combination of half tangy yogurt and half creamy mayo gives this slaw the best flavor.
- Lime Juice: Use the juice from a medium-sized lime, or about 2 tablespoons.
- Cumin, Salt, and Black Pepper: These simple seasonings make this coleslaw perfect for fish tacos!
- Cabbage: A mix of both green and red cabbage gives the slaw visual interest. Shred the cabbage with a sharp knife, a mandoline slicer, or use a food processor.
- Carrot: Grated carrot adds another texture and a bit of sweetness.
- Cilantro: For a bright, herbal finish. Chop the cilantro leaves coarsely.
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Fish Tacos With Cabbage Salsa And Yogurt Sauce
- ½ medium head cabbage, shredded
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped, or more to taste
- 2 cups chopped fresh cilantro, divided
- 1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- ¼ cup honey
- 4 medium limes, juiced, divided
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 4 tilapia fillets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 flour tortillas
How Do I Make Salsa Fresca
Add the red onion, lime juice, tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and salt to a small bowl. Mix the ingredients together and if time permits allow them to sit for 10-15 minutes before using. This will let the salsa become more flavorful.
Build the tacos using your choice of toppings. It doesnt matter the order, it will still be delicious no matter how you add the toppings.
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How To Make Fish Taco Slaw:
- In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, lime juice, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Place the cabbage mix, green onions, and cilantro in a large bowl.
- Pour the dressing over the cabbage mix, green onions, and cilantro. Stir to combine.
- Serve over fish tacos, and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
What To Serve With Fish Taco Slaw
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Grilled Fish Tacos With Pineapple Cabbage Slaw
Summer weather is upon us in our part of the world and that means one thing to us: Grilling season!
These grilled fish tacos are my take on the fish tacos weve enjoyed while traveling to beach towns where the fish is fresh, the tortillas tender, and the salsa light and flavorful. Plus, just 10 customizable ingredients and 30 minutes required! Lets do this.
Ingredients In Fish Tacos With Lime Crema
This recipe is quite versatile and you can use ingredients that you have on hand that are consistent with the flavour profile in this recipe.
- white fish – any white flaky fish will do, such as cod, snapper, halibut, tilapia, or sole. I used cod filets but you can use any white fish. You want a filet that is thick enough to hold its shape and won’t fall apart easily. You could also make this with shrimp.
- – made with a combination of oil, lime juice, cumin, paprika, coriander, red pepper powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. The red pepper powder does add a little kick. Adjust it to your preferences. Less if you want the fish super mild, or more if you want them spicy.
- lime crema – made with a combination of sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice, lime zest and salt.
- slaw – made with a combination of shredded cabbage, cilantro, green onions, and garlic. For the cabbage, you can use regular cabbage or purple cabbage. I used both.
- soft taco tortillas – either corn tortillas or wheat tortillas work. If you want to keep the dish gluten-free, then use corn tortillas.
- toppings – I topped these tacos with avocado. Feel free to use whatever toppings you prefer. Some of my other favourites include salsa, guacamole, mangos, and pineapple salsa.
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