A couple of months ago I had to eat my words when I discovered I liked to eat fish tacos. I’d always thought fish didn’t belong anywhere near tacos. It seemed wrong. But in finding a way to use fish sticks my P.S. (Purchaser of Seafood/hubby) insists on buying occasionally I found they actually tasted good in fish tacos. Silly me.
At the time I knew I had tilapia, a much better choice, in my freezer. But for the test run I used the fish sticks and we were thrilled. The cabbage salad that topped them in the taco was so tasty I knew I’d be trying this recipe again soon. Then I went and made a totally different topping the other day and they were still fabulously good. I’m a fish taco fan now!
I thawed 4 small pieces of tilapia for the tacos, and cut them into smaller strips. The tilapia wanted to separate on me so some pieces were a bit odd. Oh well, we’d add more pieces to each taco.
What brought fish tacos to mind again was ….. who had made chicken nuggets by crushing up a bunch of tortilla chips and using them with a simple flour, beaten egg, roll in tortilla chips system for breading the chicken. She commented that she’d had them on fish and found the tortilla chips overpowered the fish. That didn’t make sense to me, tortilla chips are rather bland without dip or stuff on them.
So I used her system and crushed a bunch of plain tortilla chips in the small bowl of my Kitchenaid. You could also crush them in a zippered bag with a rolling pin. I then set up a breading station: I had flour in one bowl, beaten eggs in a second bowl, and the tortilla crumbs in the third bowl. I used two eggs since I had quite a few little pieces of fish.
I made an avocado lime dressing before I started frying the fish. I mashed the avocados with lime juice, then added the rest of the ingredients and stirred well. I put the sauce into the fridge to stay cool while I finished the fish.
Learning from past mistakes, I breaded all of the fish pieces and laid them on a plate. When I’ve done them one at a time they all get done at different times and make me crazy. This way I controlled the time they were removed.
I heated a large flat nonstick skillet over medium heat with about an inch of oil. I laid out pieces until my skillet was full and waited. It was about 3 minutes when they were all browned nicely on one side. Your time may vary.
I flipped all of the pieces using a small tongs and let the second side brown. They don’t get really brown using the tortilla chips, just a light golden, you might call it.
I’d preheated the oven to 300°F and laid the fish pieces on paper toweling in an ovenproof dish and set them in the oven to stay warm while I fried the next batch.
When both batches were done I served them with a small buffet. I had shredded cabbage, diced green onions, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese and the avocado dressing. Served up in soft flour tortilla shells I’d warmed in the oven in foil, it was a make our own tacos feast!
We totally loved them, of course. The fish pieces were nice and crunchy on the outside from the tortilla chips and perfectly done inside. I didn’t fry them too long or leave them in the oven too long, two things that can destroy the perfection of the fish.
The avocado dressing was a nice kick to it all- I’d describe it like guacamole gone wild. It was zingier and more lime than the usual guacamole. That I will definitely make again, maybe even just for salad dressing or a taco salad. Amazing flavor!
Avocado Lime Sauce
1 avocado; mashed
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/4 cup sour cream
large pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
large pinch cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
Mash avocados with lime juice, stir in rest of ingredients. Refrigerate until used.
Crispy Tilapia Filets
4 small tilapia filets (about 1 lb); cut into strips about 1 1/2″ wide
2 cups tortilla chips
2 eggs; beaten
1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Crush chips in a food processor or in a zippered bag with a rolling pin. Place them in a flat bowl.
Place beaten eggs and flour each in a flat bowl.
One strip at a time, dip fish in the flour, then the egg, then the chips. Place on plate until all strips are coated.
Preheat nonstick skillet on medium heat with 1″ oil. Lay strips out leaving room to turn when first side is browned. Flip and brown second side. Lay on toweling in ovenproof dish and put into oven to keep warm. Fry fish in batches til all are browned.
Tilapia Fish Tacos
1 cup cheddar cheese; shredded
2 Roma tomatoes; finely diced
1/4 cup chopped green onions or shallots
2 cups cabbage; finely shredded
Avocado Lime Dressing
8 flour tortillas
Wrap tortillas, 4 at a time, in foil packets and put into preheated 300°F for about 10 minutes to warm them up.
Remove from oven when fish are ready. Lay pieces of fish down the center of the tortilla. Spread with avocado lime dressing, sprinkle with chopped onions and tomatoes, and top with shredded cabbage and cheese. Fold and serve.
Makes 8 tacos, about 2 servings