This is best assembled the same day it will be served, but the red chili salt, watermelon salsa, chipotle crema and slaw can be prepared hours ahead.
This recipe makes more of the salt and salsa than you'll need for this dish. Use the leftover salt mixture on french fries, pork roast or grilled chicken breasts.
Servings: 6 tacos
- For the red chili salt
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1/4 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 3/4 tablespoon chili powder
- 3/4 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/4 tablespoon powdered mustard, such as Colman's
- For the watermelon salsa
- 1/2 seedless watermelon, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3 cups)
- 1/2 mango, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1/4 cup)
- 5 to 6 scallions, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 to 1 small jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
- Juice of 1 large lime
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, stemmed and coarsely chopped
- For the chipotle crema
- 5 to 7 chipotle peppers in adobo (reserve sauce and remaining peppers for another use)
- Juice of 1 lime
- 3/4 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
- For the cabbage
- 1/4 head cabbage
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- For the tacos
- 2 (10 to 12 ounces total) boneless, skinless tilapia fillets
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 6 corn tortillas
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 bunch cilantro, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
For the red chili salt: Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
For the watermelon salsa: Combine all the ingredients except the sugar in an airtight container. Season with sugar to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the chipotle crema: Combine the chipotle peppers and lime juice in a blender and puree until smooth. Add sour cream or creme fraiche as needed until the desired heat level is reached. Adjust with lime juice and salt to taste. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the cabbage: Cut the cabbage into very thin slices and place in a bowl, then pour cider vinegar over it. Season with salt to taste. Let sit for 30 to 45 minutes; the cabbage should be wilted. Drain and discard the vinegar; set the cabbage aside.
For the tacos: Prepare the grill. If using a gas grill, heat it to medium-high. If using a charcoal grill, start the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area for direct heat. Oil the grate.
Season the fillets lightly with the red chili salt mixture; reserve the remaining salt mixture for another use. Drizzle them with a small amount of canola or corn oil.
Grill the fish for about 4 minutes per side. When the fish is nearly cooked, add the tortillas to the grate and grill for 3 to 4 minutes, until their air pockets start to rise and the tortillas start to take some color. Transfer the fish to a work surface and coarsely chop. Cover loosely to keep warm, and set aside.
To serve, layer the tortillas with the fish, then the cabbage and 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the watermelon salsa. Drizzle about 2 teaspoons of the chipotle crema on top, and garnish each taco with some of the red onion and cilantro. Serve immediately.
Adapted from chef Jeff Black at BlackSalt.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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