Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fish Tacos

It's not always the easiest thing in the world to get high-quality, interesting fish here in rural Ohio.  At least, though, we can count on the grocery stores in the area to have decent whitefish, be it sole, cod, halibut, or tilapia.  White fish isn't the most exciting thing in the world, though - it's not really the sort of thing that you just cook and let speak for itself.  Instead, it needs some help on flavor.

This recipe changes a bit every time I make it, but it's always exceptionally flavorful.  The basics are always the same: whitefish coated in plenty of powerful spices, and tempered by a creamy sauce.  The fish cooks quickly in the pan and gets a bit of nice crust on the outside, but stays moist and tender in the middle.  The interplay of heat with the cool sour cream and avocado sauce keeps things in balance.  You could jazz things up by adding more ingredients, but the simplicity here is a virtue, I think.

You'll need more spices than anything else, but it's nothing you don't likely already have on hand.  Ingredients include a pound or two of fresh fish filets, some light sour cream, a couple of limes, an onion, a jalapeno pepper or two, a ripe avocado, and plenty of tortillas.  For the spice mixture, you can get creative, but I like to use paprika, brown sugar, oregano, garlic powder, salt, cumin, and red pepper.

First, dice everything that needs dicing: the onion and the jalapeno.  Please be careful not to even think about touching your eyes as you do this.  Cutting onions can make you tear up, but you really don't want anything with a Scoville rating to even indirectly touch your eyes.

Combine sour cream and lime juice in a smallish bowl.  Open up your avocado and spoon out a good amount, then add it to the sour cream.  If the avocado is ripe enough, you'll be able to mix this into a smooth sauce with just a spoon.  If it's still too tough, a few pulses of a food processor will do the trick.

Add the onion and jalapeno to the sauce, and set it aside until serving time.

Combine all of those spices.  I like to put them together on a large plate, so I can just lay the fish flat in the mixture on both sides to coat easily.

Now liberally cover the fish with the spice mixture.  Don't be shy.

Cook the finish about 3 minutes per side in a medium-hot skillet.  Cast iron is a great way to go, here.  You'll know it's done when it flakes easily with a fork.  Don't overcook it!

Time to serve!  Spread a generous dollop of the sauce onto a tortilla, and top with a portion of fish.  That's all there is to it!  Serve nice and warm, and have lime wedges available if you want a bit of extra citrus zing.  A salad and/or some Spanish rice makes a great side.

Recipe: Fish Tacos
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 15 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 8-10

  • 1-2 lbs Whitefish, filleted
  • 1/4 cup light Sour Cream
  • 2 tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 1 Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 ripe Avocado
  • 8 8-inch Tortillas
  • 2 teaspoons Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper
  • Lime Wedges to taste


In a small bowl, combine sour cream and lime juice.  Add avocado and mix with a spoon until smooth.  Add diced jalapeno pepper and diced onion and mix again.

Combine paprika, brown sugar, oregano, garlic powder, salt, cumin, and red pepper.  Rub gently onto all sides of fish filets.

In  skillet over medium-high heat, cook fish with a bit of cooking oil approximately 3 minutes per side, or until it flakes easily with a fork.

Warm or prepare tortillas according to package directions.  Spread a generous portion of avocado mixture onto each tortilla, then top with fish.  Serve hot with lime wedges.


  1. I could eat this every day of the week and twice on Sundays!

  2. I was totally craving fish tacos the other day - I love the idea of the sour cream avocado sauce! I was planning to just slice up the avocado in what now seems like a supremely boring way, but this is better, thanks!!

  3. Guacamole: 1 large avocado to 1/2 lime's worth of juice. Add salt. Everything preceding this sentence is the basic recipe. To stretch it out a tablespoon of sour cream for every avocado. To make it spicier add some diced roasted poblano, jalapeño or serrano peppers, garlic, and diced grilled onions. You can also grill the avocados before making it for a different taste.