Ridiculously Easy Fish Tacos

The title says it all. These are so easy, it’s almost like you didn’t cook, except you do make the slaw, so that counts for something. While everyone will love these, I immediately thought of them as the perfect dish for busy families, because they are relatively healthy, can easily feed a crowd, and again, are so. darn. easy. But beyond that, their simplicity  would make them a great party food, especially for an end-of-summer shindig. I’d serve these with some agua fresca and mojitos followed by toasted coconut and avocado lime popsicles for dessert. BAM.

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Calder and I came up with these a couple of weeks ago, and they’ve become an immediate staple in our menu rotation. I’m particularly excited about them because even though I love fish tacos, I never made them at home. I was always intimidated by cooking the fish just right. So what’s our secret weapon?

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Fish strips (not to be confused with sticks) from Whole Foods! The strips are bigger than fish sticks, making one strip just the right size for a taco. As the box says, they are lightly breaded, and I love that crispy coating on my fish for tacos, but I would struggle to reproduce it from scratch. I also like buying this particular fish, because it comes from sustainably managed fisheries, which is always a concern when I’m at the fish counter. The only bummer? As you can see, there is some variation in the number of strips per box, we usually end up with about 6 strips on average, which is perfectly fine, but it matters if you’re trying to make eight tacos (just a little warning).

The only component of this dish that you have to prepare a few hours ahead of time, unless you want to buy pre-made, is the coleslaw. I make a very simple slaw that is light on the dressing and still retains a bit of crunch. This is a recipe that I always wing, but will give the basic instructions below.

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Slaw Ingredients

This recipe makes enough slaw for at least a dozen tacos, so you may want to scale it up or down accordingly. We always make a lot and then use it with other meals throughout the week.
  • 1 pound cabbage thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots grated
  • 4 green onions sliced
  • 1/2 cup mayonaise
  • 2-4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • salt

Whisk the mayo, vinegar, celery seeds and sugar together. Adjusting the quantity of the ingredients depending upon how creamy and sweet you want it. Place the cabbage, carrots, and onions in a large bowl, add the dressing and mix well. Salt to taste. As you’ll see, the dressing coverage is on the thin side, but as the slaw sits, it will create more juices. If you prefer more dressing, you can increase the dressing quantity or decrease the cabbage/carrot levels. Cover the slaw and put it in the fridge for a few hours (I always think the longer the better).

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Now for the star of our show!

Taco Makings

  • small flour tortillas (6 inch)
  • refried beans (we like the Rosarita vegetarian beans)
  • fish strips (one per taco)
  • coleslaw
  • avocados (opinions differ on this – see below)

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The How-to

  • Fish. Cook the fish strips according to the package directions.
  • Tortillas. You’ll want to warm the tortillas. We like to do this in the oven while the fish is cooking. Count out the number of tortillas you want. You’re going to wrap them in foil, but before doing that, lightly wet each side of the tortillas. You don’t want them to get soggy, but this water will create steam in the foil packet and it will also stop the tortillas from sticking to each other. I just pass my hand under running water and then lightly wipe it across the side of a tortilla and repeat. Once wet, stack your tortillas, wrap them in foil, and place them in the oven for the final 10 minutes of the fish’s cooking time.
  • Beans. Heat the refried beans. I do this in the microwave by heating for 30 seconds, stirring, and repeating until I get the desired temp without drying out or burning the beans.
  • Slice your avocado. maybe?
  • Build your taco! We simply spread some beans down the middle of our warmed tortilla, add a fish strip, then the slaw, then the avocado (if using), fold it in half, and take a bite.

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When we were eating these two days ago, I asked Calder if he had any comments for the post. He said that the most important thing is to keep it simple (and I couldn’t agree more, that’s what we love about this dish!), but then he claimed that the required three ingredients were the fish, slaw, and avocados. And I told him to back the truck up. I consider the three key ingredients to be the beans, fish, and slaw. What do you say? Please tell me you’re on team bean. I hear they’re good for your heart…

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