Mild-tasting tilapia fillets get a kick of cajun spices in one of my favorite ways to eat blackened fish: soft shell Blackened Fish Tacos that are topped with a cool avocado and cilantro tartar sauce to finish each bite.
This post is brought to you by McCormick
You don’t find balance, you create it. Words to live by.
This recipe is a prime example of making a meal that’s balanced in so many ways, and one I’m happy to share as a brand ambassador for McCormick again this year.
Mild but with a kick of spicy heat = balance. Crunchy but with a creamy lick = balance. Protein fueled but with a touch of carbs = balance. No need for a fork but grab plenty of napkins = balance.
It’s all in how you make it, and eat it, too.
With spring here at last, many of my friends are observing Lent and giving up something of pleasure to show their devotion and self-discipline. While I’m not Catholic, their beliefs are inspiring to me because for the past few months I’ve talked a lot about eating with more discipline, and eating more healthy-ish. What does that look like? To me the main theme is focusing on eating good for you foods that aren’t totally stripped of all enjoyment, but are prepared or made with ingredients that still make them taste cravingly good. It’s the balanced way to create an eating lifestyle that keeps me from feeling deprived or left out of the dinnertime party.
These tacos are a prime example of a deliciously healthy-ish meal.
It was only a few years ago I became familiar with tilapia, and since then, it’s become one of my faves. It’s is a mild, almost sweet tasting fish that packs over 20 grams of protein in each serving. It’s firmer in texture (surprising for such a thin fillet), making it a prime candidate for all types of cooking: fried, broiled, grilled and especially here where it’s blackened. It’s basically the perfect introduction to anyone who’s still a fish-eating hold out.
Continuing with our healthyish food preparation theme, this fish needs no extra doctoring of flours or breadcrumbs to create a delicious crust. I simply sprinkle it generously with McCormick’s Perfect Pinch Cajun seasoning, generously coating both sides and the edges of each fillet, and then set it aside for a few minutes for the seasoning to soak into the fish. Depending on your love of spicy food, absolutely tailor the amount of cajun seasoning to your own tastes.
While the fish is resting, I make a saucey mash-up to top my healthy-ish tacos. I can’t eat a blackened fish sandwich without tartar sauce, and I adore fish tacos with avocado, so here I’ve blended my two loves and created a creamy avocado tartar mash. I used McCormick’s Original Tartar Sauce for Seafood as the base and added an avocado spiked with cilantro and thinned it with a bit of lime juice.
Every fish taco needs a bite of crunch, and anyone who’s had an authentic Baja-style fish taco knows that cabbage—not lettuce—is the secret here. I used both white and purple cabbage for the presentation factor, with a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of salt to soften it just a bit, but still keep that cabbage-crunch.
Instead of using fried taco shells, I toast white or yellow corn tortillas, or both, in a non-stick skillet with a bit of cooking spray on each side. This takes out the raw corn taste but retains their pliable shape for stuffing. And like authentic fish tacos, I choose two tortillas for each taco.
Now here’s where a big healthy-ish factor makes it’s play. Traditionally blackened fish is fried, but this time around I pulled out my trusty sheet pan and baked the fish in the oven. My secret for crisping it on all sides is to place the sheetpan in the oven while it is heating up, so when the fish hits the sheet pan it’s coming into contact with the hot pan and already starting a crisp crust on the bottom. I then give the top of the fish a light mist of cooking spray or vegetable oil and let it cook for about 12-15 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork.
The final step is a slather of creamy avocado tartar sauce and extra chopped cilantro and if my guests choose, a scoop or two of pico de gallo or salsa. But for me, an extra squeeze of lime is all the extra I need for each and every healthyish bite.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
- 4 whole tilapia fillets, about 1½- 2 pounds
- 2-3 tablespoons McCormick Perfect Pinch Cajun Seasoning
- ½ cup McCormick Original Tartar Sauce for Seafood
- 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
- 1 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves plus more for garnish
- 3 limes, quartered
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 16-20 small corn tortillas
- Cooking spray
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- Preheat the oven to 425F and place a baking sheet in the oven to heat along with the oven..
- Trim and divide the tilapia fillets in half lengthwise if purchased as whole fish fillet. Place the fillets on a plate or cutting board and sprinkle both sides and the edges generously with the cajun seasoning, then set aside.
- Prepare the avocado sauce by adding the tartar sauce, avocado, cilantro, juice of 1 lime and a pinch of kosher salt to a food processor or a small bowl and process or mash until smooth. Add more lime juice and kosher salt to taste. Set aside.
- In a medium size bowl, toss the cabbage with the juice of 1 lime and a sprinkling of kosher salt and set aside.
- Once the oven has come to temperature, spray the hot sheet pan with cooking spray and place the seasoned fish on the baking sheet and lightly mist with oil or cooking spray. Cook the fish until they are opaque and easily flake with a fork, about 12-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Add the tortillas one at a time to the pan and spray the tortillas lightly with the cooking spray. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until lightly golden on each side. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Continue with all of the tortillas.
- To assemble the tacos, layer two tortillas together and place some slaw in the bottom of the tortilla with a few chunks of the fish. Add a spoonful of the avocado sauce and sprinkle with additional cilantro and a squeeze of lime, and serve.
This post is in partnership with McCormick. As always, thank you for reading and for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. All opinions are always my own.
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