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Yucatecan Grilled Fish Tacos

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4 to 6

These bright, spicy tacos get their authentic flavor from a mixture of orange and lime juices (to replicate the bitter oranges grown in the Yucatán) and herbs and spices like Mexican oregano and annatto.


For the salsa

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (2 medium oranges)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 medium limes)
  • 1 small red onion, quartered lengthwise and very thinly sliced crosswise (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 habanero chile, seeded and minced (about 1-1/2 tsp.)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 ripe mango, cut into medium dice (about 1 cup)

For the fish

  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 20 black peppercorns (1/4 tsp.)
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 4 tsp. annatto seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil; more as needed
  • 1-1/2 lb. mahimahi fillets or swordfish steaks (about 1 inch thick)

For assembly

  • Vegetable oil for the grill
  • 12 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 ripe avocados, thinly sliced

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 440
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 150
  • Fat (g): 17
  • Saturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10
  • Cholesterol (mg): 85
  • Sodium (mg): 460
  • Carbohydrates (g): 49
  • Fiber (g): 9
  • Protein (g): 26


Make the salsa

  • Combine the orange and lime juices, onion, chile, oregano, and salt in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the onion begins to turn pink, about 2 hours. Stir in the mango.

Marinate the fish

  • Heat an 8-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Toast the cumin seeds, peppercorns, and allspice berries in the skillet, shaking occasionally, until fragrant and the cumin seeds are a shade darker, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar. Add the annatto seeds, oregano, and cayenne and grind to a powder. Transfer to a small bowl.
  • Mash the garlic with 1/2 tsp. salt into a paste with a mortar and pestle or the side of a chef’s knife. Add to the spices along with the orange and lime juices and olive oil. Stir until well combined. Rub the marinade all over the fish. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Assemble the tacos

  • Prepare a medium (350°F to 375°F) gas or charcoal grill fire for direct grilling. Oil the grill grate. Working in batches, heat the tortillas in a single layer, turning once, until soft with light grill marks. Stack in a cloth-lined basket or plate and wrap to keep warm.
  • Brush both sides of the fish with olive oil and lightly season with salt. Grill, turning once or twice until just cooked through (the tip of a knife inserted into the center should be warm when you touch it against your lip), 8 to 12 minutes total.
  • Transfer the fish to a cutting board. Coarsely shred the fish with two forks. Distribute among the tortillas, and use a slotted spoon to top each with salsa. Garnish with the avocado slices and serve.

Make Ahead Tips

The salsa will keep, refrigerated, for 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Rate or Review

Reviews (5 reviews)

  • EllenMLittle | 10/13/2019

    This looks amazing!

  • Dieta_Saludable | 08/04/2015

    Cool, love mexican food!

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