fish market monday: cilantro-lime slaw for fish tacos.

Wait a minute; did I say Fish Market Monday? That I did. Because, people, I’m so on vacation right now it’s not even funny. And when you’re this close to the ocean, your head gets a little wobbly. You feel different, because hey; you can relax. And eat outside on a pool deck. And grill fresh fish. Not the “fresh” fish I am blessed with in my normal landlocked location which hops a flight to get to me, nooooo. Like, FRESH fish. Fish that shakes my hand when I walk up to it fresh. Fish that is up for a game of beach volleyball fresh. Fish that has never seen ice or the inside of a cargo hold fresh. The fish I never, ever get to have except when I am near some sort of ocean.

I’m not like some of you, who have harbor seals, sea creatures jumping in your back windows, and fishmongers going door to door like the milkman. Hopefully you know how good you have it. If you have a milkman, by the way? That’s even more awesome. I’m sure there are other things I have in abundance that you may not, but fresh fish? You win. So I indulge myself on vacation and I want to share with you. Problem is, there’s other people with me who like to eat and would rather do that when things are hot and ready, and not after a large-scale photo shoot. I know, right? How ridiculous.

So in the spirit of being on vacation, you may – over the next few weeks – get some shoddy photos and writing from me. I mean, some really inferior stuff, I’m just warning you. Newcomers to the blog, please know I’m not normally like this, and my normal level of “quality” (whatever that may be) shall return in a few weeks.

Take, for instance, this post. See that photo up there? it’s the only one you’ll get of food. No subtle lighting, no multiple shots, no step-by-steps, no nothing. Now, you may get some other random shots of my vacation, but food photos will be minimal. So you’ll probably get a little of this:

Also, please notice the lack of fish for Fish Market Mondays. We had some gorgeous tilapia fillets I grilled up for fish tacos, but no photos were taken before people devoured them; I was one of those people. This is what I mean by “shoddy” work. So you get some of our grilled tortillas and my apologies. Because I love you guys, but I’m overruled by several hungry individuals here, so I hope you understand.

But, on my honor, we did have fish. And it was crazy good. And when we decided to make fish tacos, I thought I’d use the opportunity to create a little cilantro-lime slaw to top them. As it turns out, it was a massively delicious pairing; people went crazy. Threw themselves into the pool with glee. It was chaos. Everything was gobbled up.

Thankfully, I ate a semi-large quantity of this slaw beforehand while “testing” my recipe, and I’ve decided this could go next to anything which even remotely resembles Mexican food. It’s like the black beans and rice every Mexican place has on the side of things, only about 830 times more delicious. It’s got a little heat which can be easily adjusted several ways to suit your tastes, and it’s got a snappy little crunch to it that makes it so incredibly perfect next to softer things, like enchiladas, or tortilla soup, or fajitas, or – you guessed it – your favorite fish tacos. And did you happen to notice (in my solo photo) the color? That’s nature at its best right there: red cabbage, leaking its scarlet-purpleness all over everything. So delicious, and so appropriate for a summer evening.

Since everyone does fish differently for fish tacos, and according to their own preference, I won’t bore you with a big recipe for that. I prefer a non-breaded white fish, like tilapia or mahi mahi, done either on the grill or in a skillet with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper. We like salsa and some fresh guacamole alongside our tacos as well. You do the fish the way you want to. But however you like your fish, here’s the slaw you should top them with.

Adapted from my hysterical love of being around my family on our annual summer vacation and nothing more.

a note before we begin: obviously this recipe is easily doubled and equally easy to customize. Even with the 4 adults we have on vacation, tolerance for spice varies greatly. That being said, the jalapeno juice, in my opinion, adds more of a vinegar zip than an actual heat. Adding the chopped jalapenos, however, brings heat for sure, hence the “optional.”  Feel free to monkey with the other ingredients as well – cilantro, cumin, jalapeno juice, lime juice – all of these things can be altered according to taste.

If you’re making fish tacos like I make them, you need:

  • small flour tortillas, heated in a skillet for serving (i highly recommend skillet heating versus microwave or oven heating – you get a nice little toast on them that adds to the overall flavor
  • fresh fish of your choosing, preferably some nice filets tilapia or mahi mahi, although this is up to you. meatier fish (like swordfish) can be delicious as well. Some people use catfish, but I’m not a huge fan of that.
  • fresh salsa, which only takes a food processor and a few minutes, so it’s worth making it yourself
  • fresh guacamole, and I won’t get on my soapbox about how there’s no substitute for fresh versus purchased on this
  • extra lime slices and jalapeno slices, for serving
  • tortilla chips, for scooping up the rest of that salsa and guacamole
And, of course, you need this slaw. Here’s the recipe.

Cilantro-Lime Slaw for Fish Tacos or Anything, Really

  • 1/2 to 3/4 head of red cabbage, core removed, thinly chopped into strands (see above photo, but it should be slaw-like)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 green onions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 limes for fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup slightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped (plus more for serving)
  • 1 teaspoon juice from pickled jalapenos (right from the jar, ya’ll)
  • pickled jalapeno rings, roughly chopped (optional, depending on how spicy you like your slaw)
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, for serving

make your dressing: 

In a medium bowl, whisk together your sour cream, mayonnaise, cumin, lime juice, and jalapeno juice until well blended. Add the chopped cilantro and stir until evenly incorporated. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and set aside, covered, in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

make/assemble your slaw (wait until you’re ready to serve): 

In a large bowl, toss red cabbage, green onions together (and chopped jalapenos, if you are using those) until mixed. Add your slaw dressing and toss together gently until cabbage mixture is evenly coated in your dressing. Check your seasonings, and add more sea salt and fresh ground black pepper if needed. This would be a good time to add more jalapeno, cilantro, jalapeno juice, or lime juice if you feel like it could use it. Serve immediately.

For fish tacos, I say this serves 4. For use as a side to a main dish, I’ll say it serves 6-8.

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9 Comments on "fish market monday: cilantro-lime slaw for fish tacos."

  1. 1. The woman who lives across the street from 2.0 and I has her milk delivered by a milkman. No lie.
    2. When 2.0 went on a golfing trip in March, he brought back a 2 litre jar of jalapeños. He was very excited, because it was a 2 litre jar of jalapeños, and also because it cost about 2 bucks. It takes up a lot of room in the refrigerator. I thank you for providing a recipe that may assist us in using up some of our 2 litre jar of jalapeños.
    3. 2.0 says he always knows when dinner is ready because he can hear the oven door open, the click-click-clicking of a camera, the oven door re-open, then his dinner going back into the oven for warming. I think he finds it charming? There’s no fighting a group of hungry people, though. No. Fighting. It.
    4. I’m really enjoying this vacation of ours.

    • shannon says:

      1. of COURSE she does. (silently shaking my fist at nova scotia…) is it a harbor seal milkman?
      2. men. love. large. jars of food. preferably ones you normally would use in small quantities and could never use up in, say, a lifetime. like a giant can of nacho cheese. and yes, because it was 2 bucks. “what a deal!” they say. and then leave you to find a space in your already packed pantry or fridge. i’m happy to assist a fellow partner of a man who brings home large quantities of random things.
      3. let’s go with “he finds it charming.” although in all seriousness, my mr. table is very encouraging of this blog of mine, because “hey, you seem to really enjoy doing it.” so that part is probably the part they find most charming. not maybe the re-warmed meals or my setting aside the “ugly pastries” for him to eat. :) and no: groups of people understand to a point. that point is typically somewhere around the “we hope you can take photos fast because we’re not waiting” point.
      4. me too! let’s all of us go next time.

  2. Mmmmhmmmm. Yes, yes I will be devouring this. Because I’m a slaw person. And I love fish tacos.

    Also, not all Mexicans eat black beans. We hate them. My daddy says pintos are what makes us sweet. Just thought I’d put that out there.

    • shannon says:

      yay! we just made them again for dinner last night! and i just ate two for lunch. am i a fish taco maniac? yes i am. i’m a slaw person too, so again: we are like twins. :)

      here’s what: did i just accidentally offend your people? oh no! in no way did i mean to suggest all mexicans loved/ate black beans. Rather, i meant to slander most of the chain mexican restaurants for always serving them and not giving me a choice (i hear you all have something called ‘pink’ beans? fun!) i am mostly “eh” about black beans except for in those flourless chocolate chip brownies. best use ever. i prefer pintos myself.

      your daddy is right, although there are probably other things that make you sweet, i bet. :)

  3. Richard H. says:

    *looks to the left* “Hi Tampa Bay.” *Looks behind* “Oh, hey Key West.”

    Yeah, I don’t have easy access to good fresh fish either…. :D I kid, of course.

    The slaw sounds amazing!! I’m thinking about giving it a try this weekend, possibly substituting the mayonnaise/sour cream with Greek yogurt (Mayo/sour cream is kind of taboo in my mind @.@), and possibly a nice cod fillet for the tacos mmmmm…..

    My counter part is insisting on some sangria as well… This weekend will be delicious!

    • shannon says:

      hi richard! you coastal people; it’s unfair how much fish you get to eat and how remarkably different it is from the flown-in stuff. There are a select few places at home where i can get very good-quality seafood, but it’s not on every corner like it is when i’m beachside. And there are little nuances to the texture and flavor you can pick out which are different, so never take your fish for granted. :)

      i’ll be honest; it’s so good, i surprised even myself. it’s not a regular thing for me to whip something savory together and have it turn out to be an instant favorite; normally it takes adjusting to get it right. This ended up being perfect on try one. I meant to say that in the post, but absolutely feel free to substitute greek yogurt for sour cream pretty much anytime you see it on my blog; i do it all the time as well, depending on who i’m making it for and what i have in the fridge. and cod would be great in these.

      mmmm, sangria! a white sangria is on the menu for us this weekend, so i hope yours – either red or white – turns out wonderfully. i’m sure it will; how could one go wrong with sangria? :)

  4. Emma says:

    I am a shrimp taco FIEND. It’s the only thing I want to order when at a Mexican restaurant, which frequently proves to be a bummer because shrimp tacos are often not on the menu. But when that is the case, I settle for fish tacos. And by settle I mean enjoy. Greatly.

    I think I like shrimp in tacos better because you can amp up the flavor more than with fish. But really, it’s all so good. So good. So good. So hungry.

    I might be the only person in the world who blogs about food who doesn’t go crazy over taking pictures of food. I’m also not big on prep shots, or food creation in progress shots. These things actually bother me from time to time. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I prefer to include pictures of other random things, like American flags, and my cat. This probably doesn’t help attract readers, but I sure like it.

    • shannon says:

      same: i love shrimp tacos as well; in fact, every summer we indulge in massive quantities of shrimp pitas, which are basically shrimp tacos in a poofier shell. i share your desire, and also your bumming out at how shrimp tacos never seem to be on menus at mexican restaurants.

      i can always tell by comments who maybe hasn’t had enough to eat at that particular moment. :)

      i’ll say i think i’m sort of in some random gray area of photos-crazies; i don’t “style” my food at all, like you won’t see random other things in the photos usually, and typically it’s not a ‘scene’ of any kind. sometimes i wish i could do that, but i embrace my inability to create like, magic with my camera and a napkin and a straw. i admire those who can. i think everyone has their own style, and i like it when blogs don’t try to be something they’re not; i enjoy yours because of that. you are yourself. your pictures are what you’d take for yourself, and you can see that. i still think about those playground photos, and i like random shots. somehow people being themselves is more interesting to me than anything else.

      i think my “myself” is two foam core boards smacked together as background – that’s about as ‘styled’ as i get, and it’s because i can’t find a way to take decent photos which highlight the food and not the random decor in my house. :) i try not to overkill the step by steps – sometimes too much “here’s my carrots” is, you’re right, too much – unless i feel they’re helpful. neither of us may always make it on fancy photo sites to attract readers, but i tend to think the ones who stick with you long-term are the ones who appreciate you for who you are, and the photos you take, etc. maybe both of us have a sort of “cult following.” :) and i’m fine with that. because i sure like your blog.

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