When I was working in Santa Monica, fish tacos were a staple at lunchtime. The great thing is that there’s no shortage of places in Southern California, like Sharkee’s, to get some great tacos. While each place has their own preferred fish, these baja tilapia fish tacos are the closest way to get that authentic flavor with a widely available fish.
What is an authentic fish taco?
Purists will note that I’ve made some modifications from what one might call a true baja-style (as opposed to a cabo fish taco which involves grilled fish instead) to make these healthy-ish fish tacos.
First, the fish in baja tacos is usually halibut or mahi-mahi, is beer battered and then fried. I’ve opted for a pan fry with lightly floured fish instead. I also go with tilapia for the fish since it’s widely available, more affordable and eaily cooked.
Though, come summertime, when the grill is back out, I totally intend to make these grilled baja fish tacos….
(If you’re wondering about the sustainability of Mahi Mahi, and other seafood, Seafood Watch is a great starting point to research updated information on fish stocks and catching methods.)
The second defining element of the fish taco is the cream sauce that’s drizzled over the fish. It really is delicious. However, the two top ingredients are mayonnaise and Mexican crema (a tangier sour cream variant). In place of the cream sauce, I suggest either slices of avocado or guacamole.
Finally, there’s the cabbage. Green cabbage is traditional, though I’ve opted for red cabbage instead. Mainly because I think it has a better flavor. Plus there’s the benefit of it having slightly more Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Iron than it’s green counterpart. Shred the cabbage very finely with a box grater and toss it with lime juice, salt and pepper.
Building out a Baja Tilapia Fish Taco Bar
When making these tilapia fish tacos for my family, I like to do it “taco bar” style where all of the ingredients are out on the counter for people to pick and choose what they want.
The other key ingredients to have are cilantro, fresh lime juice, red onion and tomato. To me, cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime are must haves. They both bring a brightness and freshness that’s irreplaceable.
And of course, guacamole. Tacos just aren’t tacos without chips and guac. See this recipe for how I make guacamole and homemade tortilla chips
One word about salsa. I’m not a big fan of it on the fish tacos unless it’s used immediately before eating. Why? It leaves you with soggy tortillas. In the time it takes to eat the first taco, your second taco will be a fall-apart mess. That’s great for pulled pork, not so much for handheld tacos.
And finally, what if you want to give a lot of options and have steak tacos as well? This cilantro and garlic rubbed skirt steak chopped up or even these chimichurri marinated steak skewers would be fun to have in addition to the baja tilapia fish tacos.
Featured on: Disney’s Babble.com, May 2013, 15 Tilapia Recipes you Gotta Try!
- 2 pieces Tilapia
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 cup Purple Cabbage shredded
- 2 Avocados
- 2 Limes 1 juiced, 1 cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup Red Onion finely chopped
- 2 Plum Tomatoes seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup Shredded Cheese
- 1/2 cup Cilantro
Place a small amount of cooking oil in a pan over medium heat
Season the fish with the Old Bay and lightly dredge it in flour
Cook the fish, 3-5 minutes per side (depending on thickness) to get a nicely browned coating
Let the fish rest for a few minutes and either shred with a fork or cut into pieces
Toss the cabbage with the juice of 1 lime, salt and pepper
In separate bowls, place the cheese, tomatoes, avocado, onion, cabbage, cilantro and fish for plating
Garnish with lime and enjoy with a Dos Equis or Pacifico
Fish tacos are one of my all time favorite meals to get while on vacation! Thankfully I'll be in Puerto Rico next week – hopefully they'll have some restaurants that will be able to satisfy my taco craving. I also get annoyed with soggy tortillas. It is best to serve everything separate and build your own as you go! My recent post Ellie Review
Oh God. This looks really good. I am on a red cabbage phase right now so these look even more good to me. My recent post Citrus Salad
I love the colors! And I desperately miss California fish tacos. My recent post Pineapple Chicken Stir Fry
Have fun in PR, Becky, will be curious to hear what kind of fish tacos you encounter on the island!
I hear you, Elizabeth, they are something that just can't be fully replicated elsewhere….though perhaps a lot of that is being able to eat them at a beachfront restaurant in the winter when it's 70 degrees….
looks so yummy!!!! Perfect for lent!!
I LOVE fish tacos and yours look so fresh, crisp and colorful. I've never tossed my cabbage with lime juice when I make fish tacos but will definitely be trying that next time!
Thanks, Sarah! Yes, definitely good timing there.
Thank you, Ellie….hope they turn out fab for you!
I love how few ingredients are used, but are obviously so full of flavor. This is a huge summertime dish for my hubs and I to eat for dinner… followed by some green tea and a nice walk outside. I can't wait to try your recipe! 🙂 🙂 My recent post Corned Beef Hoagie with Spicy Slaw
OMGoodness do you know how long it has been since I made fish tacos?! In forever! I wish I had these for dinner tonight. I like your twist with red cabbage as I myself have it here and not the white. Mouthwatering post!
Totally agree, Rachael, it's a killer summertime dish. If only summer would come sooner so that I can start cooking this on a grill instead!
Thanks, Shulie….hope this inspires you to give them a go sometime soon. Sounds like it's been far too long!
Before I was a vegan we would go to a place in Dana Point. Good memories and your tacos look great too!
Nice, Ginny, some great scenery around Dana Point in that part of OC, so I'm sure there were some great tacos as well!
The weather has finally warmed up around here and these fish tacos have my name written all over them! yum! beautiful photos as well 🙂
Thanks so much, Andrea, appreciate the photo feedback. Maybe instead of the red cabbage in the recipe above, you could use some of that wonderful looking swiss chard that you harvested last week? It would make a hearty taco for sure.
Fish tacos are Mexican good luck finding tortillas in Puerto Rico…..if you ask for a tortilla in Puerto Rico you will get an omlete
I'll be making these tonight for my mother in- laws birthday! They look and sound delicious <3
That's great to hear….let us know how they turn out!
My reasonable skinned friend, a Tacoma, Washington native of German heritage can fix the great tasting Baja fish taco I've ever tasted. It is not the prepare dinner, even though i will in no way tell her this, it is the effective rasmalai recipe she follows. The same is right with selling. It isn't the salesperson; it is the selling approach they follow.
In a different bowl, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, onion, cabbage, parsley and fish plating.i like it.
Looks so tasty! And have anyone tried to use salmon instead of tilapia?
Would be probably be just fine….the only major difference would be that salmon doesn't flake as well as tilapia. You'll end up with a much different texture in the taco. Let us know how it goes if you do try it.
Do you know why this blog is very famous at present. This blog is very famous blog because you share more information about Baja fish tacos with avocado and tilapia . Now i read your all information attentively. I am really very satisfy for your great information. Thank you so much for your great data sharing.
My kids complain a lot about “fish”, but they love Taco Tuesday, and they love these tacos