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
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.