After the birth of my twins, I had the good fortune to join an organization of mothers (now parents) of twins. I have met many amazing women in this club and continue to serve on its Board some 20 years after joining.
One of the first women I met and worked with, Kathie, is not only a great mom, but also a really good cook. It’s nice that despite both of us moving away and moving back to the same town, our friendship has continued for all of these years. Her youngest daughter now attends the same university as my middle child. What goes around, comes around they say.
One of my favorite recipes of hers is one for Fish Tacos. My love for tacos is well documented (see my posts on homemade Taco Seasoning Mix, Mexican Pizza, Taco Pizza and Okinawan Takoraisu). I love cheap tacos from fast food joints and fancy tacos that you make at home. One of my favorites has always been the fish taco. The fish taco capital of the country has to be San Diego – nearly every restaurant features their own version of this fun-to-eat entrée. The last time I was in San Diego was in 2009, and I think I ate fish tacos every day that I was there.
Kathie’s original recipe for Fish Tacos was very basic – perfect for young children with unsophisticated palates and busy moms. When I told her that I was going to feature her Fish Taco recipe, she let me know that she no longer uses frozen fish tenders, for instance. The original sauce was also not at all spicy. So I have taken the liberty of changing it up a bit, but the basic recipe remains hers.
It’s a flexible recipe – you can make an entire batch of 12 tacos or you can reduce the number easily for how many people you are feeding. If you have ever eaten Fish Tacos in a restaurant, I think you will enjoy these. They are fresh and healthy tasting and another perfect recipe for Lent.
Fish Tacos ingredients – there are a few different components to making these just as there are for making regular ground beef tacos. You will need to prepare the fish and the various add-ins.
I included a recipe to make some Fresh Tilapia Fish Sticks if you choose not to use frozen fish tenders. First put together the marinade.
You can easily use frozen fish tenders to make these, but please do not use the cheap fish sticks. Buy some high quality fish tenders either the batter dipped or lightly coated both work well and make this a much quicker meal to prepare for busy families.
Put the marinade and the fish into a Zip Lock bag or glass dish. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. While the fish is marinating you can make the sauce.
Prepare the sauce and refrigerate until ready to use. This may be made in advance. Immediately prior to cooking the fish and assembling the tacos, grate the cheese, cut the lime wedges, prepare the thinly sliced cabbage (or rinse and dry bagged cabbage), and cut the avocado into 12 segments.
Note on the Chilpotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce: My friend, Laura, taught me this trick. Purée an entire can and divide into three portions putting each portion into a small Zip Lock bag and then into the freezer. Most recipes call for just a few tablespoons of these peppers, and using this technique allows you have some ready to go without wasting any.
Sauté the Tilapia pieces and drain on paper towels. While the fish is cooking, heat the tortillas (see recipe below for three different techniques to do this).
Assemble your fish tacos by taking a warmed corn tortilla, lay a piece of fish just off center, add some cheese, the sauce, some cabbage, and a piece of avocado. Include a lime wedge and squeeze onto the taco if you like. Fold, eat, and enjoy.
Kathie’s Fish Tacos
Makes 12 tacos or enough for about 4 servings
1 pkg (12 per package) small corn tortillas
2 TB vegetable oil
12 pieces high quality frozen fish tenders or
6 Tilapia filets cut in half lengthwise, marinated and sautéed (see recipe below)
1 TB puréed Chilpotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
1 TB freshly squeezed lime juice
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1½ cups freshly grated Monterey Jack cheese
1½ cups finely shredded cabbage
One avocado, sliced into 12 pieces
Prepare the fish tenders following package directions or make one recipe of Fresh Tilapia Fish Sticks. While these are marinating and cooking, prepare the remainder of the ingredients.
Put the peppers, lime juice, mayonnaise, and sour cream into a bowl and whisk until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use. This can be done a day ahead or well in advance.
Prepare the cabbage, slice the avocado, and grate the cheese.
Heat the corn tortillas. You may do this by wrapping in paper towels and microwaving on high. Microwave for 30 seconds, turn the tortillas, and heat for another 30 seconds. You may also wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in an oven preheated to 250° F for 20 minutes. A final method is to heat a small amount of oil in a non-stick frying pan and heat for about 20 seconds per side. Drain on paper towels. The goal is to get them soft enough to fold without them crumbling apart.
To assemble the Fish Taco – take one corn tortilla, place a fish tender / stick on it slightly off center, add cheese, sauce, cabbage, and avocado slice. Serve and eat immediately.
Fresh Tilapia Fish Sticks
6 Tilapia filets, cut in half lengthwise
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 large limes)
3 gloves of garlic, finely minced
1 TB puréed Chilpotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
½ cup vegetable oil plus 1 TB to sauté the fish
Place all of the ingredients except for the fish in a bowl. Whisk until well combined. Place the raw Tilapia fish sticks into a Zip Lock bag or a glass dish with cover and pour marinade over them making sure that all sides are well coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Heat 1 TB of oil in a large non-stick stick over medium high heat. Add the fish pieces and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes total turning once. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and proceed to assembling the Fish Tacos.