The Basics: How to Make Grilled Fish Tacos

From the store to the kitchen to the table: We outline the steps that get you from raw ingredients to your dinner tonight, free of measurements and complicated techniques. It’s a method you’ll remember and whip out whenever you like. It is the most basic way to make the thing you’re making.

  • WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
  • - a baking dish
  • - a frying pan
  • - a grill pan or outdoor grill
  • - one pound of firm white fish (e.g., tilapia, snapper, cod, mahi mahi, or catfish)
  • - one lime, cut in half
  • - one clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • - ground cumin
  • - chili powder
  • - salt and pepper
  • - vegetable oil
  • - half of a small head of green or red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • - half of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • - a handful of chopped cilantro
  • - four to six soft corn tortillas
  • - optional garnishes: sliced avocado or guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and/or hot sauce

WHAT YOU’LL DO:

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  • 1. Place the fish in the baking dish and squeeze one half of the lime over it. Add the garlic, a good pinch of cumin, another good pinch of chili powder, a couple of pinches of salt, a generous drizzle of oil, and a few grinds of pepper. Mix until the fish is nicely coated, refrigerate, and let marinate at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the slaw.

    Step 1
  • 2. Combine the cabbage, red onion, and cilantro in a large bowl and squeeze the other half of the lime over it. Drizzle generously with oil, season with salt and pepper, toss, and taste. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.

    Step 2
  • 3. Warm the tortillas by heating the frying pan over medium-high heat. Add one tortilla at a time, flipping to warm both sides. Wrap the warm tortillas in a clean dishcloth.

    Step 3
  • 4. Brush the grates of the grill pan or outdoor grill with oil and heat over medium-high heat. (Tip: If you’re cooking on the stove, turn the fan on.) When the pan or grill is hot, remove the fish from the marinade and place it on the grill.

    Step 4
  • 5. After a few minutes, check the underside of the fish. When it has grill marks and is white and opaque on the bottom, flip it. Cook the other side until white and opaque, about two to three minutes more, and remove the fish from the grill. It doesn’t matter if it breaks apart while you’re flipping it—it’s just going to go in the tacos.

    Step 5
  • 6. To construct a taco, put some of the cooked fish in a warm tortilla and top it with slaw and your optional garnishes.

    Step 6

Illustrations by Bill Russell

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