I’ll never forget the first fish taco I ever ate. It was in San Diego, mere hours before Ben popped the question by hiding an engagement ring in the grass in the marina before having me accidentally stumble upon it. I was about to take the ring to the San Diego lost and found until I realized it was for me! Anyway, the restaurant was Tin Fish located in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter and the tacos were UNBELIEVABLE. Corn tortillas surrounded grilled mahi mahi topped with slaw, shredded cheese, and their homemade white sauce. We each slammed a few alongside an ice-cold Tecate and immediately started plotting our move to SoCal.
Well, the move never happened, but luckily the wedding did, and now finally recreating Tin Fish’s delicious tacos in my Iowa kitchen! Fish Tacos with Avocado Sweet Corn Slaw are fresh and flavorful, and will leave you feeling like you’re on vacation no matter where you happen to live!
The push to finally make these tacos was a hand-delivered batch of fresh-picked Iowa sweet corn from my friend Julie Kenney, whose farm I once visited to harvest field corn. This year her family planted a few rows of sweet corn fun and the crop was so spectacular that they picked then delivered several big bags of it to friends all over town. It doesn’t get fresher than that!
I immediately peeled back the husk of an ear then sliced off a strip of corn and popped it into my mouth raw (the best way to enjoy summer sweet corn, if you ask me!) It was honest to goodness the sweetest bite of corn I’d ever had. I stripped two ears to add to the crunchy red cabbage slaw that’s piled on top of these yummy fish tacos and it was phenomenal. Coupled with the creamy avocado in the slaw, and a hit of fresh lemon juice – mm, mmm, MMM!
Now, I ditched the shredded cheese that Tin Fish sprinkles on top of their tacos but kept the creamy, tangy white sauce. There’s a nice restrained drizzle of it shown here in the photos but I feel compelled to tell you that I poured it over each bite with abandon when I finally dug in. This sauce is IT!
Tips for Making Fish Tacos with Slaw
- What fish should I use? While Tin Fish’s tacos use Mahi Mahi, you can use halibut, tilapia, or even shrimp.
- Save some time. Feel free to make the white sauce up to a couple days ahead of time. Bonus: it gets better as it sits!
- Looking for a low-carb option? Tin Fish’s tacos are served in corn tortillas though the mixture of fish, slaw, and sauce are just as delicious, and lower-carb, served in lettuce wraps or piled together onto a plate.
Step 1: Prep the fish
You’ll need 1-1/2lbs mahi mahi for my fish tacos with slaw. Mahi mahi is a sturdy and fairly affordable fish – I purchased these filets frozen in a vacuum-sealed pack for $8.99/lb.
Add the mahi mahi to a large Ziplock bag then add the juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, plus a few spices and seasonings including garlic salt, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and pepper. Gently squish the bag to make sure all the fish is coated then refrigerate while you get the white sauce and slaw ready.
Step 2: Make the White Sauce
THIS WHITE SAUCE! Like I said, Tin Fish had their house-made white sauce drizzled on their fish tacos but I pretty much poured it onto mine.
To a bowl add 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 Tablespoons each fresh lemon juice and milk (any kind – I used unsweetened almond milk,) 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, and a pinch of cayenne pepper then mix and refrigerate. Easy!
Step 3: Make the Slaw
Tin Fish used a standard green cabbage slaw to top their tacos, but I went a little more colorful! First shave 4 cups red cabbage by using an extremely sharp knife to get the slices as thin as possible.
Add the cabbage to a bowl with 1 chopped tomato, 1/4 cup minced red onion, and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.
Next add 1-1/2 cups sweet corn, about 2 ears, plus 1 diced avocado, the juice of 1/2 lemon, a pinch of sugar, and lots of salt and pepper. Toss everything together then add the juice from the other lemon half if you need it.
Step 4: Cook the Fish
Mahi mahi is extremely easy to cook – treat it just like chicken. Spray a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat with extra virgin olive oil or nonstick spray then add half the fish and saute for 3-4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove the fish to a plate, saute the other half, and then flake the fish with a fork.
See? So tasty!
Taco time! Place a scoop of fish onto a corn tortilla (feel free to grill or flame kiss first!) then top with a forkful of slaw and spoonful (or 7) of the white sauce, then open wide! Enjoy!
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Fish Tacos with Avocado Sweet Corn Slaw
Fish Tacos with Avocado Sweet Corn Slaw are fresh and full of flavor. These baja-style tacos will make you feel like you're on vacation right at home!
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1-1/2lb mahi mahi
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- For the White Sauce:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons milk, any kind
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- For the Avocado and Sweet Corn Slaw:
- 4 cups shaved purple cabbage
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1 tomato, seeded then chopped
- 1-1/2 cups sweet corn kernels (~2 ears)
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup packed cilantro, chopped
- juice of 1/2 - 1 lemon
- salt and pepper
- pinch of sugar
- Place fish into a large Ziplock bag then add lemon juice, oil, garlic salt, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and pepper then gently squish to coat fish and place into the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine ingredients for the White Sauce in a small bowl then place into the refrigerator. Add ingredients for Avocado and Sweet Corn Slaw into a large bowl, starting with the juice from 1/2 lemon, then toss to combine and taste. Add remaining 1/2 lemon if needed for flavor then set slaw aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat (6/10 on the heat scale) then spray the bottom generously with extra virgin olive oil or nonstick spray. Add half the mahi mahi then saute for 3-4 minute a side or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate then saute remaining mahi mahi.
- Flake fish then place in the center of corn tortillas, top with Avocado Sweet Corn Slaw, and then drizzle with White Sauce and serve.
- You will need 3 lemons total for this dish.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.