Beyond the Fish Stick: Fresh Fish Tacos for Every Taste at the Table

Hero fish tacos

Looking for a fun weekend meal that’s great for family dinner but also a home run for an invite-the-neighborhood feast? These tasty and simple fish tacos are just the ticket. You can roast the fish and grill your corn in a mere 12 minutes. Any additional time spent in the kitchen will merely be a matter of blending, slicing, and dicing your favorite garnishes.

We also love how this recipe shows that cooking fresh fish is a cinch. If you end up with leftovers, check out Food52’s ideas for putting them to good use.

Now turn on some tunes, turn up the grill, and get ready to say hola to summer with a festive spread. Here’s how (full recipe below):

Ingredients for fish tacos

These are a few of the essential items to include on your shopping list. Mild, white-fleshed fish is best for Baja-style tacos—try halibut, cod, snapper, mahi mahi, grouper, or flounder.

Note: Parchment paper is a fantastic addition to your pantry! This grease- and moisture-resistant paper is specially treated for oven use, making it ideal for cooking this fish or other dishes en papillote, cooking bacon, and lining cookie sheets for nonstick results.

Olive you

Invite your kiddo to help with basic steps like pouring the crema ingredients in the blender, plopping the cilantro on the fish, and putting toppings in bowls. She can also come in handy if you need someone to “taste test” your olives or cheese….

Step 1

1. Place the onions, fish fillet, and a few sprigs of cilantro on a piece of parchment paper.

Step 2

2. Fold the parchment over the fish and seal the edges.

Step 3

3. Roast for 12 minutes and then gently break the fish apart with forks.

Hero fish tacos

There’s no wrong way to concoct your taco. We love it when the fish’s flavors really shine through, so we usually keep it simple with sprinkles of cabbage, corn, red onion, and cilantro, adding avocado, fresh lime, and cilantro crema as we go. But cheese, olives, red peppers, and more are all building blocks for a delicious, satisfying meal, too.

overhead fish tacos set up

In our centers, we embrace family-style eating—encouraging children to serve themselves teaches them important social skills (passing items, sharing, being patient, saying “please” and “thank you”) and how to listen to their own hunger cues. Allowing them to get in on the serving action can also inspire them to try new foods. There will likely be some spills, but also a lot of smiles.

For your fish taco “buffet,” place the fish and bowls of garnishes on the table with plates of warm tortillas, and then invite everyone to top and roll their own. Afterward we highly recommend an evening run through the sprinkler and grilled pineapple on the porch!

Fish Tacos with Roasted Corn and Cilantro Crema

Serves: Approximately 6

Total time: 15 minutes prep/25 minutes cooking

Ingredients

Cilantro Crema

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup cilantro sprigs
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper

Tacos

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 fillets of white fish, such as cod or halibut
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • A handful of cilantro sprigs
  • 2 ears of corn on cob or 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 12 small corn or flour tortillas

Possible Toppings

  • Cotija, feta, or shredded cheddar cheese
  • Plain sour cream
  • Shredded red cabbage
  • Sliced or diced avocados
  • Black olives
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced sweet red, orange, or yellow peppers
  • Shredded carrots
  • Thinly sliced jalapeño peppers
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Limes, cut into wedges
  • Hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine the cilantro crema ingredients (sour cream, cilantro sprigs, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste). A small mixing bowl will work, too—just finely chop the cilantro first. Put the crema in a small serving bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat.
  3. Cut three pieces of parchment paper, making each piece large enough to wrap a single fillet of fish. (In a pinch, you can use aluminum foil in place of parchment paper.) Place sliced onions on each piece of paper and then top with the fish. Rub the fillets with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and top with a few sprigs of cilantro. Fold the parchment over the fish, sealing the edges by rolling them toward the fish.
  4. Place the parchment packets on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 12 minutes. When ready, remove the fillets from the oven, cut open the packets, and gently break the fish apart with two forks.
  5. As the fish cooks, prepare the corn by removing the husks, brushing the kernels with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and seasoning with salt and pepper.
  6. Place the ears of corn on a grill or, if indoors, in a sauté pan on medium-high heat. Cook until the corn is tender (about 7–10 minutes), turning occasionally to slightly char all sides and basting with olive oil as needed. Remove the corn from heat, let it cool enough to touch, and then run a knife down the cob to cut the kernels into a bowl. If using frozen corn instead, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the corn, and, stirring occasionally, cook until the kernels are tender and start to darken. Set aside.
  7. Slice and chop all your toppings as needed and then put each item in a small serving bowl.
  8. Heat a skillet over medium-high. One at a time, place tortillas in the hot, dry skillet and toast on each side until they start to brown. (To cook more at a time you can also try these tortilla-heating methods from The Kitchn.) Set aside on a plate.
  9. To serve, place all items on the table and let diners assemble their own perfect tacos.
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