Family and food. They go together like butter and biscuits. It’s what every foundation of every civilization is built upon. To sit down to a meal, with forks in position and a wealth of new and old stories to tell.

Spicy Fish Tacos

I too often forget how much I love these simple dinners with the whole gaggle of extended family about. I have to remind myself it really isn’t that hard to send a text, give a call and have someone bring the salsa and chips, someone else grab a dessert.

Because we all want to be involved. It’s half the fun. Especially when everyone else digs in and starts doing the dishes. Best part ever.

So to prep for Cinco de Mayo and test out some new recipes on our loved ones aka guinea pigs, my man and I sent out the call and the flock arrived, ready to chow down on some scrumptious eats.

Basically I was just itching for an excuse to make these Spicy Fish Tacos.

Good news everyone! They received a table-full of hearty thumbs ups.

Spicy Fish Tacos

Spicy Fish Tacos

While a deep fried, Baja style, street fish taco is my ultimate favorite, it wasn’t my inclination to break out the fry daddy and deal with a lot of last minute grease for our impromptu olé shindig.

Instead, my trusty cast iron skillet with a scant tablespoon of oil did just the trick to create a beautifully crusted piece of fish.

I used tilapia for my tacos, one of the mildest of fishes, and sturdy too. It gets bonus points for easy flipping and staying snug in the tortilla while munching. But if you’re looking for an alternative, red snapper, halibut or cod would make great back up swimmers.

But what makes a taco truly special is the fixins’. You won’t see shredded cheddar or green leaf lettuce on these tacos. I like to keep it simple but full of flavor and contrasting texture. Don’t be bashful, load it how you like it.

Spicy Fish Tacos

Spicy Fish Tacos

My homemade spice mix is the key to these tacos, with chili powder, cumin, onion powder and my favorite smoked paprika adding an earthy touch. Kosher salt brings it all together like a queen bee championing her drones.

I’m usually a flour tortilla kind of gal, but fish tacos call for a sturdier binder. I prefer white corn tortillas and take the edge off of them by heating them in my hot cast iron pan for about 3 minutes or so, or until they begin to puff. No oil, no spray. Just heat and some tongs and wa-la, we have supple tortillas.

And a whole house full of happy eaters. #winning.

Spicy Fish Tacos

Spicy Fish Tacos
Serves: serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 3 ounce pieces of tilapia, skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 8 white corn tortillas
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cotija cheese
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Pickled carrots
  • 2 limes, quartered
  1. Mix the cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, onion powder and kosher salt in a small bowl. Season the tilapia pieces well with the spice mix.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet on high and warm the tortillas on both sides, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes per tortilla.
  3. Heat ½ tablespoon of oil in the cast iron skillet and cook for about 3-4 minutes on both sides, depending on the thickness of the fish.
  4. Top each tortilla with a slice of fish, jalapeño slices, pickled carrots, cotija cheese, avocado slices and cilantro leaves. Serve with lime wedges.
adapted from Donna Hay

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