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Grilled Fish Tacos

Brian Hagiwara

Yield: Yields 12 tacos

Servings: 6-8

A grilled fish taco is a beautiful thing to eat. San Diego and Baja California are where they originated. Although the classic Baja fish tacos are fried, the grilled ones really stand out and are much lighter.

This recipe is excerpted from Barbecue Nation.

Watch the video: author Fred Thompson demonstrates how to grill the fish for the tacos without it sticking and falling apart.


For the lime-cilantro sour cream sauce:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbs. minced fresh cilantro
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice

For the tacos:

  • 2 tsp. ground ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 lb. firm-fleshed whitefish fillets (halibut, snapper, mahi-mahi, cod)
  • 2 dozen 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • Pico de Gallo
  • 4 limes, quartered


To make the lime-cilantro sour cream sauce:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a 2-cup measuring cup and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate up to 4 hours until ready to use.

To make the tacos:

  • In a small bowl, combine the ancho powder, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper and stir to mix. Add the oil and whisk until a loose paste is formed. Rub the fish with the spice paste and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
  • Light a charcoal fire or preheat your gas grill on high. Oil the grill’s cooking surface. Let the coals burn down to a medium-hot fire or adjust the gas grill burners to medium-high.
  • Grill the fish until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
  • Divide the tortillas into 2 stacks and wrap each in aluminum foil. Place on the grill until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine the green and red cabbage.
  • To assemble the tacos, take 2 tortillas, top it with chunks of fish, a dollop of the sauce, a spoonful of the Pico de Gallo, and some of the cabbage. Squeeze a wedge of  lime over the filling, fold the tortillas, and eat.
  • Author’s Note: Meredith Deeds grew up in San Diego and taught me the ins and outs of the fish taco. These are an adaptation of her mom’s recipe.


Rate or Review


  • llinares1 | 05/06/2018

    its a favorite. easy and delicious. we can't stop eating after one serving. instead of cabbage, we use pico de gallo.

  • CookinJohnny | 11/28/2016

    The Spice Rub on the Fish is perfect!I made mine using quick pickled cabbage & onions and shredded cilantro on top. It kept the mayo out of the recipe for me. Very tasty.

  • BostonGirl123 | 08/03/2016

    These were SO good, and so easy! The cilantro-lime cream was the star of the show. I used cod, and while did fall apart a bit on the grill, I think that was on me for using a piece of fish that was too big to easily flip. I will definitely be making these again.

  • Jeezane | 06/28/2016

    Marinade is delicious, and the lime-cilantro sauce is perfect with fish (we grilled catfish). Will definitely be making these again.

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