One of my favorite travel memories ever is from a trip to Cabo San Lucas a few years ago. Adam and I had just arrived for a weekend away, just the two of us. We’d been traveling for the better part of the day and were starving, so we headed straight to a beachside restaurant and within an hour, were devouring fish tacos with our feet in the sand and a view of the Pacific. I remember it felt like heaven on earth and memorized exactly the way the tacos tasted and the salty wind felt on my face.
Among the many things I love about that memory, the uniquely perfect combination of just-cooked fish, cooling cabbage, creamy aioli and lots of heat wrapped up in a warm corn tortilla still makes me drool.
Thankfully, living in the unofficial taco capital of the US, I get my fair share of excellent fish tacos on the regular, though without the ocean views. Of course, the one from my memory was a tempura fried version (yum) as many of the best ones are, whereas my usual go-to is a little lighter with grilled fish. Still delicious, just different.
This is the fish taco recipe that we make most frequently at home. It’s so simple that I make it all the time for quick weeknight dinners, especially since I almost always have a jar of chimichurri hanging out in the fridge from the weekend before. I put it on steak or chicken, or toss with a little olive oil and vinegar for flavor-packed salad dressing – when I’ve got a jar ready to go in the fridge, I feel like I’m already halfway to getting dinner on the table. But simple doesn’t equal boring — I’ve made this for so many pool parties and backyard barbecues, and it always garners major raves. Plus, if you’re making it on an outdoor grill, it’s one of the most stress-free meals to serve a crowd. Just add chips and salsa, maybe some Mexican street corn, and good margaritas.
If I have leftovers, I’ll turn this into a “fish taco salad” to have for lunch the next day. Just serve the fish and guacamole over any type of salad greens, drizzle with a little of the chimichurri vinaigrette (see above), and if you’re feeling crazy, crunch up a few tortilla chips over the top. Or roasted pumpkin seeds for something a little more virtuous. Scroll on for the recipe, and I’d love to hear if y’all give it a try!
- 1 pound halibut, skin and bones removed (I ask the fishmonger to do it)
- 8 corn tortillas
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 avocado, mashed
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- for garnish: pickled onions, fresh cilantro, lime wedges
for the chimichurri
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
- 1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stems
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 shallot, peeled and halved
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Make the chimichurri by combining everything in a blender. It should be the consistency of a thick pourable sauce, so you may need to add a little more oil or a touch of hot water to thin it out.
- Okay, get ready because you're gonna use this chimichurri in 3 different ways. First, the halibut: cut it into 1" cubes (or longer strips if you're grilling), then toss in a bowl with 1/4 cup chimichurri until fish is coated. Refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 3 hours.
- Toss the cabbage with a teaspoon or so of chimichurri, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons chimichurri with the mayo. This is your "crema" sauce.
- Heat a large nonstick pan (or a grill) over medium-high. Sprinkle the halibut with salt, theen cook for a couple minutes per side, until slightly caramelized on the outside and cooked through on the inside. Set aside.
- Warm the tortillas (I like to do it over a gas stovetop flame so it gets charred), then fill with cabbage, smashed avocado, and halibut. Drizzle with the chimichurri crema, then garnish with onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Eat!