Who doesn’t love a good fish taco. Throw in some wine. Boom!
We’re a little obsessed with tacos around these parts. I’m pretty sure I eat tacos for lunch at least 5-6 days a week. Usually what that means is throwing together whatever I see first in the fridge into a corn tortilla and heat it up with some cheese, then douse it with a ridiculous amount of hot sauce (Valentina hot sauce, I love you!). It’s also our lazy go-to use for any leftover meat. And thanks to the Lego Movie our kids expect tacos for dinner every single Tuesday night. No exceptions!
But trying to stay in line with one of our New Year’s goals to lay off the big heavy meaty foods a few days a week, we’re trying to eat more fish. One goal is to cook fish for dinner at least once per week (if not more). And since Sean doesn’t really consider fish “meat” he seems to think this qualifies as a vegetarian dish. Nice try, Sean, but no go. That means I have to try to make the NON-pork-beef-poultry foods that qualify “vegetarian” delicious and filling (yet healthy!) enough to satisfy my meat-loving family. I know I know, fish IS technically meat, but we’re taking baby steps here.
The thing about these tacos is that we’re grilling the meat (I mean fish. I mean vegetarian protein.), so Sean still gets to fire up his cooking vessel of choice (but you can totally grill the fish on your indoor grill since it is the dead middle of winter after all… I won’t tell) and still feels like he’s cooking up something smoky and meaty.
Many white fishes (like Mahi-Mahi, Cod, and even Halibut) are rich in texture but also can benefit from added flavor or seasoning. So to make the fish full-flavored, we marinate it for 30-60 minutes in a delicious citrusy, savory, and spicy mix of flavors, and then grill it for just a few minutes. (Quick note on the type of fish: I recommend a thicker cut of fish for better grilling. Tilapia for example is pretty thin and dries out when grilling.) If you see corn on the cob at your local market (I know it’s not in season, but you can still find some out there) then throw a couple on the grill for the slaw while the fish is cooking. Then we start building the tacos, and top it with a crunchy citrusy spicy slaw countered with a cooling and rich avocado cream sauce.
While it may seem like a few steps to accomplish this recipe, I can assure you this dish so EASY and quick to make. Many of the ingredients are used in all three steps, so you are really just reusing several components. Pay attention to the ingredient list to see where the same ingredients are use 2-3 times.
The best part of this dish is that it is healthy, yet filling, and jam-packed citrusy-spicy-creamy deliciousness. Meat-lovers rejoice!
The even better part is that there are some awesome wine options to pair with it. Taco Tuesday + Tasty Wine = Happy Me.
- 1 lb thick white fish (cod, mahi mahi, or halibut)
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and finely diced
- 2 tablespoons shallot, diced (about ½ medium sized shallot)
- 1 teaspoon jalapeño, finely diced, about ¼ medium jalapeño (save the rest for the coleslaw)
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped (you will use more cilantro in the cream sauce and to top the tacos)
- The juice of one Meyer lemon, (about one quarter cup)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground pepper, just a couple twists
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1 ear of corn, grilled (can use warmed up frozen corn if you don't have any fresh in season)
- 2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup shallots, chopped (4 tablespoons, or approx 1 medium shallot)
- 1 tablespoon jalapeño, finely diced (about ½ medium jalapeño)
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice, approximately ½ a lime (save the other half for the Avocado Cream Sauce)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ avocado, (save the other half for topping the tacos)
- ½ cup thick Greek yogurt, (could also use sour cream or Crème fraîche)
- The juice of ½ a lime (+ more for preferred flavor)
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
- A couple dashes of hot sauce (optional)
- 6-8 corn tortillas
- Optional toppings: avocado slices, Cotija cheese, lime wedges, more cilantro
- Place all marinade ingredients in a large bowl (or large freezer bag). Place in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.
- On a charcoal grill preheat coal and then set for direct cooking.
- Add ears of corn over direct heat, turning quarter turn every few minutes. You are looking for a charred exterior but not burnt. If the heat is too hot, then move to indirect to soften corn, and then finish over direct heat, turning the corn frequently.
- Remove fish from marinade and discard the marinade while corn is cooking.
- Over the direct heat, along side the corn, cook the fish for approximately 5 minutes on one side, or until you can pull the fish away from the grill without it sticking to the grill grates.
- Flip the fish to other side and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes, then remove.
- You'll know the fish is done when the fish is white all the way through but still moist.
- Toss all coleslaw ingredients (including the grilled corn) together in a large bowl. Taste and adjust flavors to your preference.
- Place all ingredients (except hot sauce) into a food processor. Pulse until well combined and creamy. Taste and adjust flavors. Add a couple dashes of hot sauce if you feel so inclined!
- Heat up a corn tortilla. Layer the taco with about 1 tablespoon of the Avocado Cream Sauce, grilled fish, coleslaw, top with more cream sauce, and add preferred toppings (avocado slices, Cotija cheese, squeeze of lime, more cilantro). Pair with one of the wine recommendations below. Enjoy!
Oh gosh, I could go on and on with great wine options for these tacos. You’ve got some spice from the marinade, some char from the grill, more spice and herbs from the coleslaw, and a creamy cooling effect from the cream sauce. The only real rule I like to follow is to avoid red wines! Red wines and white fish with lots of citrus flavors (like in these tacos) is a hot mess waiting to happen.
Stick to fresh, light to medium-bodied, citrusy white wines for this. You could go for a Sauvignon Blanc if you’re feeling zippy. Vinho Verde if you’re feeling for something light, super refreshing, and low alcohol. Grüner Veltliner can work well with its herbal flavors, complimenting the coleslaw and cream sauce. Even a nice Pinot Gris (Grigio) can cool the palate if you chose to make these spicy.
Me? For some reason I’m always drawn to Spanish white wines with fish tacos. The fresh fruity flavors of Albariño for example stand up so well to the multitude of flavors in these tacos. But that’s not the only Spanish wine I like. I recently had these with a really fun Verdejo from the Rueda region.
Vidal + Vidal Verdejo “Cepas muy Viejas” 2013 (Rueda, Spain)
Made from made of 100% Verdejo grapes from old vines (i.e. Cepas muy Viejas), this one had some fun zesty citrus flavors with some green/herbal undertones and a steely/minerally finish. The flavors of the wine worked really well with the cream sauce and refreshed the palate in between bites of these killer tacos. | $15 (media sample)
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