Tropical Eats: Fresh Fish Tacos

I have a weird relationship with fish. I know it’s good for me, I want to eat more of it, and I generally enjoy it when I do eat it….buuuuuttt it has to be fresh. If there’s even a tiny whiff of fishy-ness then it’s a no go. And those frozen fillets you see in the grocery store…nope, never (you do know that most of those come from China right?) Which is why fish and I only get along when I can get it fresh from the source. I guess you could say we have a location dependent relationship. Luckily here in the Florida Keys fresh fish is abundant, and we’ve been feasting away both at home and at restaurants.

Fresh Fish Tacos
Fresh fish from the Keys Fisheries in Marathon

One of my very favorite ways to eat fish is in a taco. Because everything is better in taco form.

Fresh Fish Tacos
Fresh Fish Tacos!!!

Unfortunately, the fish tacos they serve in the restaurants around here are not quite right. Instead of topping the fish with a tangy cabbage based coleslaw, they treat it like a regular taco, with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and a sauce reminiscent of that one time I ate at Taco Bell. Cheese! With fish? Come on Florida, that’s just not right. So I did what any authentic fish taco lover would do…I made my own. And man were they good. And easy. I combined three basic components – purple cabbage slaw, mango salsa, and pan seared fresh fish. It was a winning combination, and since we plan to stick close to the coast for the next few months I have feeling these will be making a regular appearance in our tiny RV kitchen.

Fresh Fish Tacos with Mango Jalapeño Salsa

Start with the Mango Jalapeño Salsa. Combine one ripe mango, one chopped jalapeño, some red onion (or scallions if you run out of onion like I did), a squeeze of lime, and a dash of salt.

Fresh Fish Tacos
Mango Jalapeño Salsa

Next is the Tangy Cabbage Slaw. Another simple recipe with chopped cabbage, scallions, plain yogurt, a splash of white wine vinegar, some celery salt and fresh black pepper.

Fresh Fish Tacos
Tangy Cabbage Slaw

The fish was treated to a quick marinade of garlic, cumin, and chili powder with a squeeze of lime and a drizzle of olive oil. Pretty much any fish works for fish tacos. This time I used Hogfish, a very popular, flaky white fish that is abundant in the waters around the Keys. Because it’s so flaky I decided grilling could be a potential disaster, so instead I pan seared it in my cast iron pan.

Fresh Fish Tacos
Fresh Hogfish

While the fish was cooking I warmed some corn tortillas (if you’re feeling really ambitious try making your own like Nina did). We layered on the goods and chowed down. Soooo good!

Fresh Fish Tacos
Ready to assemble

Fresh Fish Tacos with Mango Jalapeño Salsa

Serves 4 

  • 1 ripe mango, chopped

  • 1/8 cup red onion or 3-4 scallions
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • Dash of salt
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • 2 cups purple cabbage, chopped

  • 4-5 scallions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt (more to taste)
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1 – 1 1/2 pounds of fish (any kind will work, but you may need to adjust the cooking time if you use a firmer fish such as salmon)

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil + more for cooking
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 8-12 corn tortillas

  • Olive oil spray
  • More limes for serving

  1. Make the salsa. Combine all the ingredients in small bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
  2. Make the slaw. Taste and add more celery salt and black pepper if needed. Cover and refrigerate prior to serving.
  3. Place the fish fillets in a shallow dish. Combine the garlic powder, cumin and chili powder in small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of the fish. Squeeze the lime over the fish and drizzle with olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Heat a large cast iron pan coated with a thin layer of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the fish (only as many fillets as will fit without crowding) and cook for 4 minutes. Carefully flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes on the other side. Repeat with the reaming fillets. If your cast iron pan is seasoned correctly the fish should not stick. If it does, no big deal. The fish needed to be broken apart to go in the tacos anyway. ***If you’re concerned about a potential fishy flavor being left behind in your cast iron pan try scrubbing it with lemon and salt.
  5. While the fish is cooking, heat the corn tortillas. I like to spray them on both sides with a bit of olive oil and place in a small non-stick skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side until they are warm and crispy.
  6. Assemble the tacos. Start with a corn tortilla, add a bit of fish, a generous scoop of slaw, and a few spoonfuls of salsa. Squeeze some extra lime on top and dig in!

Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

A small speaker with big sound. We use this portable speaker nearly all day, everyday. The small footprint combined with the convenience of bluetooth makes it the prefect go anywhere traveling speaker.


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14 Responses to “Tropical Eats: Fresh Fish Tacos”


  1. Lynne (WinnieViews)

    ooh, another great recipe post that I’m saving! Thanks! After returning from 2 months in Baja this winter, I was starting to go thru fish taco withdrawal and wondering just what I would do without them!

    • Amanda

      I can see hoe you would go through withdrawls. While we’re near the coast I am going to try to make these once a week.

  2. Lisa W

    Sounds delicious! I like that you make the slaw with yogurt. I hate mayonnaise and that is how most is made. I am a new comer, but plan on being a regular.

    • Amanda

      I also hate mayo, but I like my coleslaw creamy. The yogurt also adds some additional tang!

  3. Wheelingit

    Oh looks fabulous!!! I’m definitely trying this one!!

  4. Penny

    Oh Amanda. I am drooling and so jealous. Not much fresh fish up here in these parts. But, headed back to Negril in early March and plan to get my fill of anything fresh and all things yummy that we are missing here.

    • Amanda

      Yeah, it’s hard to find fresh fish in the frozen north :) How exciting that you’re going to Negril again! You’ll get your share of everything fresh while there I am sure.

  5. Lynn B~Tales From the Mutiny

    Beautiful presentations! I might have to make these for Clark when we’re a little closer to the source. He LOVES Mango Salsa!! =)

    • Amanda

      I’ve been obsessed with mangos lately. They’re fairly cheap down here so we eat a LOT of them. The addition of the mango salsa is what makes these tacos better then average.

  6. Laurel

    We’re in the boonies in southern Arizona with no fish fit to buy or eat — so we’re doing without until we return to Oregon and our wild Alaskan salmon. We’re looking forward to returning to Florida next winter and getting our fill of Gulf seafood. Your tacos look fantastic! We make tacos similar to yours but I add lots of cilantro. Yum. Wish I had some right now!!

    • Amanda

      The southwest desert is not very fresh fish friendly is it? I feel like we’re getting spoiled down here with a seafood market every few miles.

  7. Adam

    Hogfish is tough to beat, my recipe is pretty similar but I rather guiltily egg wash and roll the fish in panko, drop in the cast iron pan with a couple inches of canola oil and deep fry. I love the crispy crust with the flaky white fish inside. Avocado slices also nice.

    • Amanda

      My dad introduced us to Hogfish as his favorite fish. The first time we had it he breaded and fried it as you described. Oh my god…so good! I was going for a healthier dish this time, but you really can’t beat that crispy crust. I’ll have to add avocado slices next time.


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