A good fish taco is in a class by itself. My kids tried their first in a beachside restaurant in Florida, and suddenly the world of tacos had a new category, and as any mother will tell you, when fish finds a new embraceable form for your kids, that’s a beautiful thing.
If you see a place to get a fish taco anywhere near water, you will want to stop and get one. I don’t care if you are headed to a wedding or a bar mitzvah. I almost don’t care if it’s your own wedding or bar mitzvah. Just stop. Get one.
Sometimes the fish is fried (fabulous), sometimes it is grilled (also fabulous), and easiest and most accessible of all, sometimes it is pan seared (still, fabulous).
Granted a beach isn’t always available as a backdrop for your fish tacos. That is why we must make our own. It’s almost stupidly easy, and if you have leftover coleslaw or any kind of delicious vegetable relish you can use that, and skip this slaw. Conversely, if you have leftover cooked fish, flake that up and use that instead of cooking some new filets.
And the very best part of cooking fish for tacos? If it falls apart when you are sautéing or flipping it, who cares? You’re going to flake that sucker up anyway.
This recipes calls for any white, flaky fish that you want to use, allowing you the lovely flexibility of seeing what freshest where you are shopping. Don’t be shy – talk to that fishmonger. He or she will be only too happy to tell you what to buy.
The fish in these tacos is topped with a chopped vegetable salad that adds brightness and crunch. I also had some broccoli stems hanging around, as I had just used the florets in a stir fry, and I peeled off the tough outer layer and cut the stems into matchsticks, and threw those in as well.
The whole thing is such a nice assortment of shapes and textures and colors—mix in whatever vegetable you have lying around, and just try and cut the vegetables thinly and into different shapes.
Use either flour or corn tortillas, whichever you prefer, but do take those extra few minutes to warm them up in a skillet, so they soften and get a bit more flavorful.
Flaky Fish Tacos with Vegetable Slaw
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 4 6-ounce filets tilapia, cod, barramundi, or other flaky white fish
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 8 radishes quartered and thinly sliced
- ½ cucumber peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into thin half moons
- ½ red onion cut into wedges, then slivered
- ½ cup chopped fennel
- ¼ cup chopped olives optional
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 8 6-inch flour or corn tortillas
- Crumbled queso fresco to serve
- Heat a large heavy skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium high heat. Add one tablespoon of the oil. While the oil is heating, sprinkle both sides of the fish filets with the coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Sear the fish for about 3 minutes per side, until browned and cooked through. Transfer the fish to a plate and break it into small chunks. Tent with foil to keep warm. Wash the skillet out.
- While the fish is cooking combine the radishes, cucumbers, red onion, fennel, olives (if using), lemon juice and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Return the clean, dry skillet to medium high heat and cook the tortillas for about 20 seconds on each side for flour, 45 seconds on each side for corn, until lightly browned in spots and softened. Stack them on a plate.
- Serve the tortillas with the fish, and the vegetable relish, along with the queso fresco on the side. Let everyone assemble their own tacos.
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