Fish Tacos!

One of my favorite things to order at restaurants or good food trucks.

Oddly, the best fish tacos I’ve ever had were in Tucson…pretty far from the ocean. We have some really good ones at the famous Taco Bus here in Tampa but now I can say I’ve made awesome fish tacos right here in the comfort of my own little kitchen!

Tacos of any kind have always been one of my favorite dinners to make. Having all the little bowls of ingredients and a do it yourself taco bar is especially fun for kids.

I’ve made fish tacos before but usually with grilled fish like Mahi Mahi. While that is certainly delicious and clearly a healthier choice, there is just no getting around a good, crunchy, golden brown fried piece of fish in your taco. I made these with cod, but any nice light white fish like flounder, snapper, or orange roughy would do.

You can customize the toppings to suit your taste and what is fresh and available at the store or farmer’s market.

Here’s what you need:

1 pound of cod or other whitefish, small flour tortillas, queso fresco or grated cheese, eggs, flour, panko breadcrumbs, vegetable oil, chili powder, cumin, black beans, chipotle chili, cabbage or lettuce, mango, avocado, tomato, sour cream, salt & pepper.

Click here for a Fish Taco Shopping List

I realize that this is a ton of stuff for tacos. As I said before, feel free to customize this to your heart’s (or stomach’s) delight. For example, I ended up not using the tomato pictured above. Jim put cabbage on his tacos but I loaded mine up with mangos and didn’t have room.

Cut 1 pound of fish into small pieces that will fit inside your taco shell. I cut mine a little bit on the larger size and only used 1-2 pieces per taco because I wanted the fish flavor to be more prominent than the breaded coating.

Set up 3 trays or shallow bowls to make an assembly line to coat the fish. Left to right I have 1 cup of flour that has been seasoned with about 1 Tablespoon each chili powder and cumin, 2 eggs that have been beaten and seasoned with salt & pepper, and 1 cup of panko bread crumbs.

Panko breadcrumbs are lighter and flakier than traditional store bought bread crumbs. They have become a very popular cooking item and can easily be found in most regular grocery stores. Look either next to the other breadcrumbs or in the section of Asian foods. Panko breadcrumbs give this fish a very light texture and incredibly crunchy coating that you wouldn’t get from regular breadcrumbs.

Working in small batches, coat the fish pieces in the flour mixture, then move them over to the egg wash, and finally roll them around to coat all sides in the panko breadcrumbs.

This shaggy looking coating will become incredibly light and crispy.

Because I prefer not to use a ton of oil, I’m using a pan that has deep sides and is not too wide.  (My pan is a 4 quart pan but only about 8 inches across the bottom.)

Pour about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil into the pan over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, you can test it with a few crumbs of topping to see if it is sizzling and ready. Carefully put the breaded fish into the hot oil and turn to cook to an even golden color on all sides – about 3-4 minutes.

The trick to having the smaller pieces of fish is that they will cook very quickly. Monitor the heat of your oil carefully to be sure that it is not so hot that the fish browns immediately but not so cool that the fish sits there and gets all soggy. Work in small batches so you don’t over crowd the pan. Place the cooked fish on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

The other part of this recipe is preparing the various toppings for your tacos. If you are cooking alone, you’ll want to prepare the toppings BEFORE you cook the fish so that the fish is at it’s most crispy and crunchy going right from the pan onto your tacos.

I’ve made a little bit of spicy sauce by chopping one small chipotle pepper and mixing it with 1/2 cup sour cream. You could also use mayo.

My taco building station includes the delicious panko fried cod, some Mexican queso fresco – a nice light crumbly cheese very similar to feta, lime wedges, shredded cabbage – you could also use lettuce, chopped mango, chopped avocado, spicy chipotle sour cream, various bottles of hot sauce, flour tortillas that have been slightly warmed in a dry pan, and a can of black beans that I’ve heated up in the microwave.

Let the assembly begin. I like some black beans and a couple pieces of fish…

spoon on a little bit of the chipotle sour cream and add LOTS of mango and avocado. The mango/avocado combination is one of my new favorites.

You can add a little cabbage or lettuce for crunch…

Top with some cheese and squeeze a little fresh lime over the top.

My taco is almost too full to fold! My taco was also incredibly delicioso!

This fish taco dinner was fun to make and eat and would make a great, party idea. You could easily set up a taco bar with the fish, some sliced grilled chicken or browned ground beef, assorted veggies, chips, guacamole, and a couple of salsas. Oh, and don’t forget the margaritas!

Here’s the recipe:

Fish Tacos

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8 Responses

  1. These look soooo good. I usually make Emeril’s pico de gallo to go with ours, but I like all the interesting toppings you suggest. Yum!

    1. I’m a big fan of theme parties. I would have been great back in the 60s when progressive dinner parties were all the rage. I bet fish tacos (and everything else) tastes better in Costa Rica!

    1. They’re really good and equally delicious with grilled fish or even pan cooked fish like tilapia. My neighbor Mike suggested adding corn too. I think I’ll roast a few ears on the grill with some fish next time.

  2. I’ve never had a fish taco either, but don’t think I need to try one! Way too much effort for just finger food…………… I eat the fish and avocado with a knife and fork, slurp a couple of Margaritas and forget about the rest. And then the Mango for dessert!

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