I’ve been on a huge Mexican food kick recently. I don’t know if it’s the heat (Baltimore might as well be Beirut right now) or my obsession with avocados, but I can’t get enough. The last three times I’ve been to a Mexican restaurant (I go a LOT), I’ve ordered fish tacos. Each order was ridiculously flavorful and texturally perfect. Some restaurants use fried fish, which adds a satisfying crunch, while other restaurants opt for grilled filets, introducing a charred flavor to the mix. Either option is delicious.
Since I’m not Paula Dean with a deep fryer installed in my countertop, readily on-hand for frying each and every part of my meal (yes, you can fry a cheesecake!), I decided to grill my fish. If you don’t have a grill, a grill pan on the stove is a great go-to. But before you get to the grilling, make sure you have all your toppings squared away.
Red cabbage slaw has been my #1 new favorite fish taco surprise since I had it at a small place called Holy Frijoles (best name ever, by the way). It was so good I had to try it at home. Though I’d never made a slaw with Mexican flavor undertones, I figured adding cilantro, red onion, and lime would do the trick.
Start by finely shaving your cabbage into slaw-like, super-thin strips. The thinner the better! Take your time here and you’ll get a much better result. Throw the strips into a large mixing bowl. In a separate smaller bowl, mix your mayonnaise with the lime juice to thin it out. Pour this over your cabbage, and add the red onion, cilantro, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Mix well, and put in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.
I whipped up a quick salsa with diced tomatoes, lime juice, red onion, diced jalapeño, cilantro and salt. Feel free to use your favorite store bought variety of salsa if you’re short on time. I also diced up an avocado and mixed it in a bowl with a sprinkling of salt. Get out your tortillas… now you’re ready to grill!
Take the fish out of the fridge and sprinkle each fillet with salt, pepper, olive oil, and, if you like, cayenne powder. They’ll cook on a grill quickly, no more than 2-3 minutes on each side (depending on the heat of your grill, they may only take one minute per side). Tilapia is thin and cooks quite quickly. Be careful flipping the fish, as it becomes slightly flakey and delicate as it cooks.
When the fish is done, you can eat! Serve the fish filets with a few wedges of lemon or lime. Build your own tacos with the slaw, salsa, avocado, and chopped cilantro! This was so good I’m tempted to make it again tonight…
For the slaw:
- 2 cups red cabbage, finely sliced
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- ¾ cups red onion, finely diced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- Freshly ground pepper
(this slaw serves about 3-4 people)
- Tilapia filets (roughly ¼ lb – ⅓ lb per serving)
- Salt, pepper, olive oil
- Cayenne powder (optional)
- Lemon or lime wedges