If you know me, you're probably aware that fish and shrimp tacos are one of my favourite foods. I think it started a few years ago on one of my LA buying trips, when I discovered that the tacos sold on the Mexican food trucks in downtown LA were not only inexpensive but also extremely delicious. Simple and fresh ingredients with a healthy helping of fresh avocado and spicy salsa quickly made them my go-to lunch option during a busy day of buying, and since then I've been on a quest to find the best fish tacos wherever I go.
Toronto has experienced an increase in taco popularity over the past few years which means there are lots of great restaurants offering both authentic taco options and also new twists on the Mexican classic. I visit La Carnita, Grand Electric, Playa Cabana and Seven Lives on a fairly regular basis (yes, I'm a little obsessed!), but recently I've found myself opting to make my own at home, experimenting with different combinations and toppings.
In my opinion, it's really all about the flavour profiles and how they mix and match, and the choice of salsa, coleslaw and other sauces is extremely paramount when constructing the perfect taco. I love the addition of any tropical flavours, so the mango salsa in this recipe really appealed, and the creamy coconut coleslaw is the perfect thing to balance out the spiciness in these shrimp and fish tacos. I used two different recipes I found so that I'd have the variety of fish or shrimp to try out, and they both pair really well with the salsa and coleslaw, though I'm also planning to try the avocado cilantro sauce from the blackened fish recipe next time.
Mix yourself up a margarita and enjoy!
Coconut Coleslaw // 1/2 medium green cabbage, thinly sliced 1/4 small purple cabbage, very thinly sliced 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/4 cup coconut milk (original, unsweetened) 2 tsp granulated sugar 2 tsp lemon juice 1 tsp horseradish cream sauce
Mango Avocado Salsa // 1/2 small red onion, finely diced 2 Tbsp of canned hot jalapenos, finely chopped 1/4 bunch of cilantro 1 fresh mango, diced 1 avocado, diced 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Shrimp // 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined 1/2 tsp chili powder 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1/2 tsp ground cumin powder 1/2 tsp salt/sea salt
For the Coleslaw // 1 // In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together 1/2 cup mayo, 1/4 cup coconut milk, 1 tsp horseradish sauce, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp lemon juice.
2 // In a medium bowl, combine thinly sliced green cabbage with very thinly sliced purple cabbage.
3 // Once the dressing is creamy and smooth, pour it over your prepared cabbage and stir well. Just before serving, give it a quick stir to make sure any dressing at the bottom coats the cabbage.
For the Mango Salsa // 1 // In a medium bowl, combine: diced red onion, 2 Tbsp jalapeños, 1/4 bunch chopped cilantro, diced mango and diced avocado then drizzle in 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice and stir to combine.
Prepping the Shrimp // 1 // Combine 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp salt and sprinkle over shrimp. Stir shrimp to coat evenly.
2 // Heat a large skillet over medium/high heat. Swirl in 1-2 Tbsp olive oil and saute about 1 min per side, or until pink and cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside. Once shrimp are cooled, chop into large pieces if desired (they’re easier to eat if chopped).
Prepping the Fish // 1 // In a small bowl, combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, dried oregano, onion powder, cumin, salt, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the mixture over both sides of your tilapia fillets, and then rub the seasonings in.Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, add in the tilapia (a few at a time if you can't fit them all at once). Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until the outside is blackened and the fish flakes apart easily.
2 // Remove the fish from the heat, and if desired, warm the corn tortillas in the same skillet over medium heat, cooking for about 30 seconds on each side.
3 // Break up the tilapia into 2-3" pieces.
Assembly // 1 // When ready to serve, heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Stack 2 tortillas on top of each other and once the oil is hot, saute until the bottom is golden (no need to flip the tortillas). You’ll see the top one curl up; this is a good thing. The top one should be warm not toasted. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
2 // Build your taco. There's really no "right" way to do it, but I usually start with the fish or shrimp and then add the slaw and salsa on top, garnishing with a bit of cilantro and adding a wedge of lime on the side.
Original Recipes // Shrimp Tacos with Coconut Coleslaw and Mango Salsa and Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Sauce