The Best Types of Fish for Tacos
You can use almost any white fish for fish tacos, so long as its flesh is firm enough that it won’t fall apart during frying. Ask your fishmonger for mild, flaky fish, preferably one that was sustainably harvested. Some of the most common types of white fish include mahi-mahi, cod, red snapper, tilapia, halibut, and founder, all of which make excellent fish tacos.
- Mahi-Mahi (aka dolphinfish or dorado) has sweet-tasting, moist, firm-textured, pinkish flesh and a low fat content (less than 1 percent by weight).
- Cod are saltwater fish that can be found in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. Both varieties are mild in flavor and have a flaky, white flesh. Atlantic cod has less moisture, firmer texture, and sweeter flavor than Pacific cod. Pacific cod has a more delicate texture than Atlantic cod and a more savory flavor.
- Red snapper is a saltwater fish found off the southern coast of the US and in Mexico’s Gulf waters. Red snapper is sustainably harvested in the Florida Gulf, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and is available July through September.
- Tilapia is a name for several species of freshwater fish found in waters above 60°F. In the US, tilapia is usually a farmed fish. Tilapia typically has firm, white flesh, with a somewhat bland flavor. Fast-growing tilapia can be harvested within 8 to 10 months.
- Halibut is the largest of the flatfish, a type of sideways-swimming fish with both eyes on one side of the head. Halibut has firm, white flesh with more collagen than other fish, so it’s more forgiving in terms of dryness. Halibut are found in the North Atlantic and northern Pacific. Because halibut are very large, they are commonly sold as frozen (or previously frozen) fillets.
- Flounder is a family of abundant saltwater flatfish that includes turbot, fluke, and Dover sole. All types of flounder have a mild, light flavor. Like all flatfish, flounder have both eyes on one side of their heads. Summer flounder (aka northern fluke) has an edible skin, delicate texture, and is available April through May.
Easy, Homemade Fish Tacos Recipe
Prep Time30 min
Total Time40 min
Cook Time10 min
For the cabbage slaw:
- 1/2 head green or red cabbage, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste
For the fish sauce:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup Mexican crema, sour cream, or Greek yogurt
- 1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced (or substitute chipotle chile powder, cayenne pepper, or hot sauce)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
For the fish fillets:
- 1 pound white fish fillets, such as tilapia, halibut, snapper, or mahi-mahi, cut into 3-inch strips
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dredging
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup beer, preferably a Mexican brand
- Olive oil or other vegetable oil, for frying
For the tacos:
- 1 avocado, diced, to serve
- Pico de gallo or salsa, to serve
- Lime wedges, to serve
- Warm corn tortillas or flour tortillas, to serve
- Make the cabbage slaw. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, cilantro, 3 tablespoons lime juice, jalapeño, and onion. Season with salt to taste. Set aside while you prepare the fish taco sauce.
- Make the fish taco sauce. In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise with crema, chipotle, paprika, and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Set aside while you prepare the fish tacos.
- Batter the fish. In a large bowl, mix flour with 1 teaspoon salt and a few turns of black pepper. Add beer and whisk to form a thick batter, like pancake batter. Dip fish into the batter using tongs.
- Fry the fish. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 inch of oil until shimmering. Fry fish fillets until golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
- Assemble the tacos and serve. Serve fish in warm tortillas with coleslaw and a drizzle of dipping sauce.
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