• Jane Evans Bonacci The Heritage Cook

    WELCOME to The Heritage Cook ... we're sharing traditions, one recipe at a time! I learned to cook at my grandmother’s side, watching her create nourishing meals for the family. I love to share the lessons she taught me. I am a recipe editor, developer and tester, a food writer, passionate cook, and baker. Subscribe to the blog and never miss a recipe or the fun of Chocolate Mondays! Creating, exploring, sharing, nurturing ... that is what I love about cooking!

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Chipotle Fish Tacos

When I was visiting my friend Becki in San Diego, California many years ago, the one thing she insisted I had to eat was fish tacos. I had never had them and couldn’t wait for my first taste. We drove around and around, looking for a specific restaurant. I’m not sure we ever found the right one, but we finally stopped at Alberto’s and ordered tacos with “green stuff” aka guacamole. One bite and I was hooked.

The problem with most fish tacos is that people treat them like fish and chips. They bread or batter the fish and then deep-fry it. This leaves the fish greasy with a coating that slides right off. Wrapped in flour tortillas and piled with shredded cheese and taco sauce, you wind up with a taco that tastes like nothing but the toppings. The delicate flavor of the fish disappears.

A good fish taco has white fish, usually mahi-mahi, marinated in a spicy sauce and grilled just until done. Broken into bite-sized pieces, it is served with a light slaw and a squeeze of lime in fresh corn tortillas. The fish is hot and flaky without being greasy, the slaw crisp and refreshing, and the lime adds just enough acid to cut through the richness of the fish. Once you’ve had fish tacos made this way, you’ll never go back to the fried kind again.

Adding chopped chipotle peppers to the marinade adds some heat and a nice smokiness that is especially complementary to grilled foods. I like to serve my fish tacos with an avocado cream made from sour cream, guacamole, and fresh lime juice. It adds a wonderful flavor and creaminess that complements the fish without overpowering it. Grilled fresh pineapple lends a bright sweetness that sets off the flavors of the fish. You don’t have to serve it, but I think it makes the dish outstanding!

Jane’s Tips and Hints: To grill pineapple, brush lightly with olive oil, and place on a medium-hot grill. Cook until pineapple becomes golden and the natural sugars begin to caramelize. You can chop it into small pieces or leave it in big chunks.

Kitchen Skill: Pitting an Avocado – Using a sharp knife, slice avocado in half lengthwise, sliding blade around pit. Twist halves to separate them. Holding half with the pit in the palm of your hand, slip the point of a spoon under the pit and lift it out. To ripen an avocado, place it in a brown paper bag with an apple and leave it on the counter for a day or two.

Chipotle Fish Tacos

Jane Evans Bonacci © 2009

Yield: 4 servings



1/4 head of Napa cabbage or other green cabbage

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 tsp sugar, or more to taste

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Dash of ancho chili powder, optional

Fish Marinade

1 to 1-1/2 lb mahi-mahi, cod, or other flaky white fish

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp ancho chili powder

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped

1/2 tsp adobo sauce, optional (if you want more heat)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Avocado Cream

1/4 cup prepared guacamole

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tsp grated onion or shallot

Freshly squeezed lime juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


8 corn tortillas, warmed

Lime wedges

Grilled pineapple rings, optional

Minced jalapenos, optional


In a measuring cup combine vinegar, sugar, salt, and ancho powder if using. Core the cabbage and shred thinly. Place in a large mixing bowl and toss with seasoned vinegar. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat, or light a charcoal grill.

Place fish in a medium dish. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over fish. Let marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.

While fish is marinating, make avocado cream. Combine guacamole, sour cream, and onion in a small bowl. Stir in enough lime juice to thin it slightly. You want it thin enough to drizzle over the fish. Add some salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasonings. If it is too tart, add a pinch of sugar. Pour into a squeeze bottle if you have one.

When grill is hot, remove fish from marinade and place, skin-side up on hot grill. Cook for 4 minutes on the first side and very carefully flip over and cook another 30 seconds. Remove to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Flake with a fork into bite-sized pieces.

Warm the tortillas on the grill for about 20 seconds on each side. Place a little slaw on each tortilla, top with some fish and drizzle with avocado cream. Serve with lime wedges, grilled pineapple, minced jalapenos, and remaining avocado cream.


6 Responses

  1. Jane … Thank you so much for the Fish Taco Recipe! It is exactly what I have been searching for! Just yesterday (7/7)on Food Network I caught the beginning of a food challenge between Bobbie Flay and a chef from San Diego who is known for his mexican fish tacos…but unfortunately both chefs felt the need to deep fry their fish….ugggggg! The mango salsa and fresh veggies looked great but no no no to deep fried and breaded fish for fish tacos! Tomorrow is hubby’s BD soooo I think I have a new recipe to share for lunch! Thanks so much Jane and a call out to Jim and Bambi…. Hugs from the “fort” on the 3 rivers…. Chris of Fort Wayne Indiana

  2. Great food photography. What type of camera equiptment are you using?

  3. You hit the nail on the head with the fish taco “rescue”. Why some places serve big, breaded, deep fried slabs of fish is beyond me. They probably also sauce their tacos with tartar sauce! Thanks for the save here.

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