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If a restaurant has fish tacos on the menu, I always order them. Even a bad fish taco makes me happy compared to no tacos. The more I eat them, the more I realize that there are certain characteristics that create a great taco:
- The shell has to be a corn shell.
- I prefer a smaller street-size taco, mostly so I can eat multiple.
- I never choose a battered and fried fish because that negates any fish flavor and often means the restaurant is masking inferior fish.
- There always needs to be a good crunchy factor, hopefully through a fresh cabbage slaw.
What fish is best for a fish taco?
Fish options are overwhelming, especially if you live in the plains of the Midwest. Since I hundreds of miles from the ocean, I don’t have good options for fresh catch. When it comes to tacos, salmon is too rich with its strong flavor. It’s great in most circumstances, especially when the meat is the main star of the dish, but it’s just not right with this recipe. Plus, the spices for tacos do not blend well with strong fish.
Many white fish varieties are too tender and seem to fall apart. While you want something that can be shredded, you don’t want something that’s limp and mushy. So, I opt for cod. I love how it’s always available in the grocery frozen department and the filets are high quality. Once roasted, it still has amazing texture and it absorbs the accompanying spice blend perfectly.
What makes the perfect taco slaw?
If you are new to cabbage on tacos, prepare for your life to be forever changed! The bright crunchy texture of the coleslaw creates a perfect taco moment when paired with the fish.
I start with a good dressing, something in between a vinaigrette and a creamy option. What’s great about this recipe is the marinade is multipurpose. It’s used to both flavor the fish and create the base for the slaw dressing. And it’s not really surprising that the marinade has the beginnings of a great dressing: oil, lime juice, and flavorful spices.
To tame it down a bit and round out the flavors, I stir in sour cream and pour it over shredded cabbage. When finished with cilantro, it makes the perfect topping for these tacos!
Watch how to make these fish tacos
Tex-Mex Fish Tacos
For the fish
- 4 5-oz cod filets
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 tbsp minced chipotles in adobo
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ⅓ cup neutral oil (avocado, safflower)
For the cabbage slaw
- 1 ½ lb cabbage
- ⅓ cup chopped green onion
- ½ cup cilantro
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp pickled jalapeño (optional)
- radish sliced
- cotija cheese
For the fish
- Place the fish filets on a small baking sheet or baking dish with sides. In a medium bowl, combine the lime juice, orange juice, chipotle sauce, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, salt, and oil. Whisk to combine and pour half of the amount over the fish. Set aside the remainder. Cover fish with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Once marinated, remove the plastic wrap and roast along with the marinade in preheated oven until the fish reaches 120°F and flakes easily. Remove from oven and allow to rest 5 minutes. After resting, use forks to lightly flake into bite-size pieces.
For the slaw
- To the remaining marinade, add the sour cream and whisk to combine. Pour over shredded cabbage, green onion, and cilantro. Add in pickled jalapeño, if desired. Stir to combine. Cabbage can be made 24 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator.