Do you remember the first meal you made? I do. I was 11, and I was testing out my first cookbook. The recipe I chose? Tacos. I have no recollection why – tacos certainly weren’t my favorite food – but I suppose that perhaps, I enjoyed the challenge of making something so different from what usually appeared on my dinner plate. So, enlisting the occasional help of my dad, I spent hours meticulously chopping onions, measuring spices, and browning ground beef. The product: a build-it-yourself spread on the kitchen table where my family gathered around and pile their preferred toppings over ground beef. I was so pleased with myself, I refused to make anything else for a year.
Eventually, I moved on from tacos. I started cooking other things for my family: stir fries, salads, even whole-roasted chicken. In high school, I became more health-focused, and when I was 17, I stopped eating meat. I haven’t made tacos since I was young – until now.
Going to school in Nashville has given me an affinity for fish tacos. There are a ton of great places around campus (Local Taco, I’m looking at you) that sell creative, fresh tacos. This is my interpretation of my favorite variety: grilled, tender white fish with fresh pico de gallo, citrus-y slaw, and avocado – all of it doused in lime. It’s easier than it seems, and the best part about making tacos is that everyone can build their own individually at the table. I can add extra avocado, my dad can add jalapeño and sour cream, and my brother can skip on the kale. Everyone wins! The main filling can be customized, too: marinated tofu, cooked black beans, and portabello mushrooms all make good fillings. Constructing dinner at the table makes it feel like a special night, and brings a true sense of togetherness.
Fish tacos are perfect for summer. They’re casual, refreshing, and they beg to be eaten outside. Slaw for fish tacos is typically made of cabbage, but I created one out of kale. I usually have it lying around anyway, I love its strong, slightly bitter taste, and its a nutritional powerhouse. Feel free to use whatever veggies you like best.
- 1 1/4 lb white fish, such as red snapper, mahi mahi, tilapia, halibut, cod, etc.
- 2-3 limes
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1 1/2 tbsps olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup white or yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, finely chopped (with seeds, more or less to taste)
- 2 cups kale, finely shredded
- 8 soft tortillas (corn, wheat, or whatever you prefer, gluten-free if necessary)
- Place the fish in a large, shallow dish. Pour the juice from half a lime over it. Then, add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, one tablespoon of the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Turn the fish over a few times until it is evenly coated in the marinade. Set aside while prepping the rest of the ingredients - in between 15 minutes and an hour is ideal.
- Mix the tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, onion, jalapeño, lime juice, and a few pinches of salt and pepper together in a small bowl. The pico will keep for up to one day in the fridge - just be sure to drain any excess liquid at the bottom before serving.
- In a bowl, combine the kale, the remaining 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/2 tbsp olive oil, and the juice from half a lime. Season with salt and pepper. Massage the dressing into the kale with your hands until the kale is noticeably darker and more tender. Set aside until serving.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Place one tortilla in at a time, and flip after about 30 seconds, until warm on each side. Store the tortillas on a plate with tinfoil or a clean cloth over them, to keep warm.
- There are a few ways to cook the fish. You can roast at 400F for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your fish. You can also pan sear it - be sure to divide it up into separate fillets for easier flipping - in a heavy-bottomed skillet with a bit of oil, about 4-5 minutes per side over high heat. To grill, heat the grill up to medium-high, and oil a fish rack (so that if the fish crumbles, it doesn't all fall through the grates). Cook about 3 minutes on each side. With all these methods, you'll want to make sure that the fish is white and opaque all the way through - this isn't the the right kind of fish to eat with a rare center. Transfer the fish to a serving plate - it's okay if it crumbles, because it's just going into a taco after all!
- Place the warmed tortillas, pico de gallo, slaw, fish, and any additional toppings on the table, and enjoy.
- 2 Tacos - Calories - 318. Fat - 8g (Saturated Fat - 1g; Monounsaturated Fat - 4g; Polyunsaturated Fat - 1g). Carbs - 34g (Dietary Fiber - 5g; Sugars - 4g). Protein - 30g.