The key to making great fish tacos is not the kind of fish you use or how you cook it.
I’ve made fish tacos with tilapia, grouper and even shark. I’ve grilled it, broiled it and deep fried it.
No, the key to fish tacos is: Cilantro.
Cilantro, the wonderful fresh herb that tastes like mint and parsley had a baby, gives fish tacos that incredible fresh flavor that instantly transports me to Venice Beach, where I first discovered my love for fish tacos at an oceanside bodega more than a decade ago.
When you include cilantro in your fish tacos, it brings the rest of the flavors to life, making the type of fish and how you cook it less important. Almost any fish taco will work if you include cilantro.
Whatever else you put on your fish tacos is up to you. I like to include a little thinly-sliced cabbage with the lettuce to give it some crunch.
In most cases, I would say cheese and fish are two things that don’t go together, but when you add a little shredded Mexican cheese mixture or queso fresco to the fish and serve it in a warm tortilla, something miraculous happens.
Normally, I use corn tortillas, but you could use flour tortillas if you wanted. Just make sure thay are the taco-sized 4″ tortillas. If you use a tortilla that’s any larger, you are looking at a fish burrito and everybody knows there’s no such thing as a fish burrito!
In a restaurant setting, I serve three fish tacos on a plate. Wrapping each in a little square of wax paper holds them together nicely. But at home I prefer to set up a fish taco bar because everybody likes their fish taco made a little differently.
I usually serve my fish tacos with chipotle salsa — which I make by mixing regular salsa with spicy chipotle sauce so it has a little smoky heat to it — along with fat free sour cream and my homemade guacamole.
This time, I also included some spicy refried beans, which I made by combining a can of fat-free refried beans, a 1/4 can of water and several shakes of hot sauce, topped with a little shredded cheese.
I have to give one more shout out to the quinoa and black bean infused tortilla chips I discovered recently at Trader Joe’s. If you haven’t tried them yet, pick some up the next time you are at TJ’s. They are awesome and they go great with these fish tacos.
1 lb Fresh neutral-flavored fish such as tilapia
1/2 cup Seasoned flour (All-purpose flour with a little salt and pepper thrown in)
1 TBS Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Shredded Mexican cheese (or queso fresco)
1/2 head Red leaf lettuce, sliced thin
1/2 cup Green cabbage, sliced thin
1/2 cup Cilantro, sliced thin
1 cup Salsa
1 TBS Chipotle sauce
1 cup Fat free sour cream
1 package 4″ Corn tortillas
1. Put cast iron pan on fire. When hot, add EVOO. Meanwhile, drag fish through seasoned flour. When oil is smoking, carefully put the fish into the oil, being careful not to splash hot oil on yourself. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
2. Combine salsa with chipotle sauce and stir together. Combine lettuce, cabbage and cilantro and mix together.
3. Remove tortillas from package and wrap in a clean dish towel or simply serve them the South Side way, in their wax paper package. Microwave for 45 seconds to soften and warm them.
3. Rough chop fish and place in a serving bowl. Place remaining garnishes in serving bowls with implements to create a fish taco bar. Invite your guests to make their own tacos however way they wish.
What do you like on your fish tacos? Join the conversation in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!