Blackened Fish Tacos

Fish tacos.  Unbelievable.  I have a deep love of fish tacos, and like a cheeseburger, when you have the craving, NOTHING else will do.  Spicy, fresh, flavorful, fulfilling, refreshing… and any other adjectives you might want to employ.  In the end, they’re delicious and quite easy to make.

Fish tacos are a northwest Mexican and Baja specialty that has spread through southern California like the plague.  The best fish tacos are the simplest, relying on the natural flavor of fresh fish and a few other garnishes.  They are many ways of producing them, some more complicated than others.  If you want to take the time to make mango salsa, go for it!  Sometimes shredded cabbage is used, sliced avocado instead of guacamole, some call for cheese, others don’t.  Again, I opt for a simple recipe, done right.

In principal, it’s an easy recipe.  Highly seasoned fish, shredded lettuce or cabbage, guacamole, and fresh corn torillas are your base.

The key to making fish tacos, like any other fish recipe, is using the freshest fish possible.  And make sure the fish is appropriate.  Salmon, for example, is not.  Pacific rock fish is.  Tilapia, which is used on so many restaurants’ fish tacos, is a horrible choice.  You want a firm, white flesh fish, that won’t turn in to mush the second it hit a pan.  Halibut, though expensive, might be the best.  Snappers, rock cod, and sablefish are great examples of good fish to use.

Blackened Fish Tacos

Prep time:  20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield:  8 tacos


8 oz fresh halibut, rock cod or snapper (skin removed)
8 6in corn tortillas
2 tbsp pico de gallo
4 tbsp fresh guacamole
1/2 cup fine shredded romaine lettuce
blackening seasoning (recipe follows)
1/8 cup shredded jack cheese
vegetable oil

Blackening seasoning:

1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1/8 tsp ground oregano
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground marjoram
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp celery salt


For the blackening seasoning:

Mix everything well.  Store in an air tight container.

For the Tacos:

Cut the fish into cubes 1/3in.  Place in a mixing bowl with about 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil.  Liberally season with the blackening powder.

In a very hot heavy skillet or saute pan, add the fish with a little more veg oil.  Let sear, do not stir or flip until fish is deeply colored.  Add the pico de gallo and flip pan once or twice.  Cook for about 2 minutes (fish will cook fast!).

Heat the tortillas on either a hot grill, skillet or griddle.  Add a small amount of the cheese on the bottom of the tortilla while the tortilla is heating.  Spoon a little of the blackened fish on each tortilla, followed by a dollop of guacamole and shredded lettuce.  Fold the tortillas in half and serve right away.

Serve with lime wedges, hot sauce and extra guacamole.


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