Citrus-Marinated Fish Tacos 2.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jul 17, 2019

Fish tacos needn't be fried to be flavorful and fun. This recipe was originally designed for an outdoor grill, but cooking the fillets on a cast-iron griddle or pan indoors is easy and manages to catch a summery vibe. If you have a well-seasoned grill pan that you're sure the fish won't stick to, you can use that.

While the fish marinates in a bright mix of citrus and oil, you'll have time to make the avocado crema and cabbage slaw accompaniments.

Use the best, freshest corn tortillas you can (heat/char them briefly in a dry skillet or over a gas burner, for extra flavor and flexibility). In such a simple dish, they make all the difference.

Make Ahead: The fish needs to marinate in the refrigerator for no more than 30 minutes.

2 - 4

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2-4 servings

  • For the tacos
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from 1 orange)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped (1 cup), plus more diced onion, for serving
  • Leaves and tender stems from 15 stems fresh cilantro, chopped (1/4 cup), plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 to 2 limes)
  • 1 pound tilapia, striped bass or other mild, white-fleshed fish (skinned)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Four 6-inch corn tortillas (see headnote)
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Pickled jalapeño slices, for serving
  • For the slaw
  • 1/8 head green or purple cabbage, shredded (2 cups; may substitute bagged coleslaw mix)
  • Leaves and tender stems from 8 stems fresh cilantro, chopped (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1 teaspoon honey, or more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For the avocado crema
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or crema
  • Flesh of 1/2 of a ripe Haas avocado, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


For the tacos: Whisk the garlic, orange juice, oregano, onion, cilantro, oil and lime juice in a medium bowl, to form a blended marinade.

Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper. Spread half of the marinade over the bottom of a rectangular glass baking dish. Arrange the fish over the marinade. Spoon the remaining marinade over the fish. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning the fish over once during that time.

Meanwhile, make the slaw: Toss together the cabbage, cilantro, half the lime juice, the honey, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl, until evenly coated. Taste, and add more lime juice and/or honey, as needed. Let the slaw sit while you finish the recipe; the salt and lime juice will wilt the cabbage a bit.

For the avocado crema: Combine the sour cream or crema, avocado, lime juice and salt in a food processor. Puree until smooth.

To cook the fish, heat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. It should be very hot, which will help prevent sticking; check by flicking a few drops of water -- if they immediately scatter and evaporate, the pan is ready. Make sure each piece of fish is well coated with the marinade (leave behind most of the onion), then add to the pan and cook until just opaque in the center, 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, then carefully turn them over and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on the second side. The fish should be just beginning to flake when touched with a fork. Discard any remaining marinade.

Coarsely chop the cooked fish. Arrange on a platter, and serve right away with the tortillas, slaw, avocado crema, diced onion, chopped cilantro, pickled jalapeño slices and lime wedges.

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Recipe Source

Fish recipe adapted from one by Steve Raichlen at; avocado crema recipe adapted from; slaw recipe adapted from

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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