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.
One of my very favorite ways to eat fish is in a taco. Because everything is better in taco form.
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, they were 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.
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.
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.
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 with Mango Jalapeño Salsa
- 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
- 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.
- Make the slaw. Taste and add more celery salt and black pepper if needed. Cover and refrigerate prior to serving.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!