When I moved into my first apartment, started making dinners for myself and learning my way around a kitchen, fish was never on the menu. The truth is, I was afraid to cook it. Fish was more expensive to buy than ground beef, and it seemed much easier to screw up. I didn’t want to risk it.
My first few attempts to cook fish proved me right. I didn’t know what I was doing; I pushed it around in the pan so much that it fell apart. After a few failed attempts, I had a brilliant idea. Rather than eat another sad pile of fish flakes, I tucked them into a corn tortilla, topped the whole mess with salsa, and pretended I did it on purpose. Taco night, for the win!
Have you tried fish tacos yet? They’re a perfect way to shake up your Taco Night. They can be ready to eat in a half hour or less, and they can be made with a seemingly endless variety of salsas and other toppings.
Still afraid that your fish will turn out like my crumbled first efforts? Don’t be. There is an easier way to cook fish that is nearly foolproof. Quickly broiling fish in an oven, rather than agitating it in a frying pan like I did, yields juicy results, and keeps the flaky pieces of fish from falling apart (cooking it in an oven also prevents lingering fish odors). If I had known that all along, it may have been years before I ate my first fish taco. And that would have been a tragedy.
In this recipe, we paired succulent bites of tilapia with crunchy cabbage and a sweet and spicy mango and avocado salsa (that might become your new favorite topping for everything). All you need to do is pop the fish into the oven and chop a few ingredients for the salsa while it bakes. If you’re handy with a barbecue or have a grill pan, you can also grill the fish.
Any whitefish will work well in this recipe, but we chose tilapia because it is one of the least expensive and most widely available varieties of fish in the U.S. (If only it had been more popular during my penny-pinching college years!). Not only is tilapia affordable, but it’s also easy to cook. As it heats, it develops a flaky texture that is just firm enough to keep its shape. It has a mild, sweet flavor that lets the rest of the ingredients in the recipe shine.
For a low-carb version of this recipe, replace the corn tortillas with lettuce leaves, or serve the fish with mango avocado salsa alongside your favorite steamed veggies.
- ½ medium mango, chopped
- ¼ medium red onion, finely chopped
- ½ medium avocado, chopped
- ½ medium jalapeno pepper, seeds and veins removed, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt), divided use
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 lb. raw tilapia (or cod, halibut, or mahi mahi), washed, patted dry
- 4 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warm
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 4 lime wedges (for garnish; optional)
- Preheat grill or broiler on high.
- To make mango avocado salsa, combine mango, onion, avocado, jalapeno, cilantro, ¼ tsp. salt, and lime juice in a medium bowl; toss gently to blend. Set aside.
- Season tilapia with remaining ¼ tsp. salt.
- Grill or broil fish for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until tilapia flakes easily when tested with a fork.
- Evenly top tortillas with tilapia, cabbage, and salsa. Serve with lime wedges.
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