These Blackened Fish Tacos have a different flavor combination than most, and it's incredible! With a couple of unexpected ingredients in the mix, they're spicy, cool, soft, crunchy, hearty and a touch sweet -- all at once! You won't be able to get enough.
These blackened tacos are a fusion of Cajun and Mexican flavors.
Starting with the Pickled Cabbage Slaw (pictured below), they are the recreation of mind-blowing fish tacos I've had several times, at Hale I'A Da Fish House in Kawaihae on the Big Island in Hawaii.
I've been making and perfecting them for years.
(I often suggest brands I love and use — these are only suggestions and this is not a sponsored post.)
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- ground oregano
- ground thyme
- smoked paprika - Paprika is made from dried, ground red peppers. It ranges from mild to hot -- use whatever intensity you like. I love smoked paprika -- the peppers used have been smoked, which adds a delicious smoky flavor to dishes.
- salt - I cook with Kosher salt. I prefer it for a few reasons: its larger flake size, it's less refined and usually doesn't contain additives, and it does a great job enhancing the flavor of foods without making them taste salty.
- cayenne pepper
- Petrale Sole fillet - Or another firm, mild fish like Mahi Mahi or Cod. Always buy the freshest fish possible. If you have a specialty fish market near you, that's probably your best bet.
- sour cream - Crema Mexicana will also work.
- chipotles in adobo sauce - Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce are jalapeño chiles that have been dried, smoked and packed in a sauce made of tomatoes and spices. They come in a can and you should be able to find it in any major grocery store.
- avocado - Ripe avocados should yield to firm gentle pressure. They should feel slightly soft but not “mushy” to the touch.
- Pickled Cabbage Slaw - Here's my easy recipe for it.
- lettuce - I use Romain.
- tomato salsa - I use El Pato Salsa de Chili Fresco in this recipe. You can find small cans of it in almost any major grocery store.
- fresh tomato - Choose tomatoes that are slightly firm, but have a little give when gently squeezed, and they should have a deep red color (or whatever the color is intended to be).
- pimiento stuffed Spanish olives
- limes - I find that limes with a smoother skin are usually the juiciest.
- corn tortillas - Or flour, as long as they're about a 6-inch diameter.
- neutral oil - I use grapeseed, but vegetable works well too.
- I use Petrale Sole in this recipe. You can substitute with Mahi Mahi or Cod. Any mild, somewhat firm, white fish will work well. (Note that the cooking time will change slightly depending on the thickness of the fillets.)
- When I had the Blackened Fish Tacos I mentioned above in Hawaii, they were served with El Pato Salsa, which is why I chose it. However, use any salsa you like.
- You can swap black California olives for the Spanish green olives, but I would not recommend using a strong flavored olive (i.e. Kalamata).
- The spice mix for the fish has a touch of cayenne. Use more or less, depending on the amount of heat you want. For a big group, you might want just a pinch in case it's too hot for some.
- These are soft tacos. If you prefer, you can sauté the tortillas in a hot pan with oil to crisp them.
- I wouldn't skip the sour cream-honey-chipotle mixture! It puts blackend fish tacos over the top.
(See recipe card below for quantities.)
How to Make Them
- Make the pickled cabbage and set it aside. Ideally, this should be made at least 3 hours ahead. The longer it sits in its marinade, the better it will be.
- In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, ground thyme, ground oregano, smoked paprika, salt and cayenne. Set aside.
- In a small serving bowl, combine the sour cream with the chipotles in adobo and honey. Season to taste with a bit of salt.
- Place the fish fillets on a clean, dry surface and coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with the oil. Heat the pan over high heat.
- While it's heating, sprinkle both sides of the fillets evenly with the spice mix.
- Once the pan is very hot, add a few of the coated fillets to it. You should hear a sizzling sound when they hit the pan -- if you don't, it's not hot enough yet. There should be a bit of space between each fillet, so if your pan isn't large enough for all of them, just sauté in batches. Sauté the fish just until it's cooked through, about 1 minute per side (for Petrale Sole).
- Once the fish is cool enough to touch, break it into smaller pieces. Set aside.
- Warm the tortillas in the oven or over a low flame on the stove.
- Make a taco bar with all of the taco "fillings." See Taco Bar Checklist below.
Taco Bar Checklist
Whenever you have a crowd or small group for tacos, it's fun and easy to set everything out in serving bowls and plates. This way everyone can customize their tacos to their own taste.
A taco bar should have at least one protein. In today's recipe it's the blackened fish. Of course tacos are also great with grilled steak, chicken or pulled pork.
Below is a list of the taco bar "essentials" that are included in this recipe . . .
- avocado slices - Drizzle with lime so they keep their color and sprinkle with salt to maximize their flavor.
- diced tomatoes - Sprinkle with salt to maximize their flavor.
- sour cream-honey-chipotle mixture - This is incredibly delicious! For most taco bars, plain sour cream is fine, too.
- pickled cabbage slaw
- lime wedges - Make sure there are at least two per person.
- shredded lettuce
- salsa - This recipe includes one, but it's fun to have a couple of options.
- warmed tortillas - Wrap the the warm tortillas in a cloth kitchen towel or napkin.
*I don't serve cheese with fish tacos. For other proteins like chicken or beef, I like to use grated cheddar or pepper jack.
More Delicious Taco Recipes
- Halibut Blood Orange Ceviche Tacos
- Pepper Jack Turkey Lettuce Tacos
- Pickled Tomato-Pulled Pork Tacos
- The Ultimate Breakfast Taco
- Spicy Potato Soft Tacos
What to Make Ahead
Following the guidelines below, several of the taco bar items can be prepped a least a day ahead, and some a few hours ahead.
- The pickled cabbage should be made at least 3 hours ahead, but you can make it up to a few days ahead.
- You can add the cut limes, sour cream-honey-chipotle mixture, shredded lettuce, olives, pickled cabbage and salsa to small serving bowls a day ahead of time. Keep them refrigerated, covered tightly with plastic wrap until you're ready to serve.
- The avocado and tomatoes can be prepped a few hours ahead. The avocado should be drizzled with lime juice so it keeps its color. Do not sprinkle either of them with salt until you're ready to serve. These can be kept at room temperature or refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap.
- You can coat the fish with the spice mix a few hours ahead. The fillets should be in a single layer on a plate, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated until you're ready to cook it.
- For the best results, the fish should not be cooked until the last minute.
I hope you love these Blackened Fish Tacos as much as my family and I do!
Blackened Fish Tacos Recipe
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon ground oregano
- ¾ teaspoon ground thyme
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 1½ teaspoons honey
- 1½ teaspoons chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
- approximately 2 medium-sized avocados, thinly sliced
- 2½ cups Pickled Cabbage (click here for the recipe)
- 1 cup Romaine lettuce, shredded
- ¾ cup El Pato Salsa de Chili Fresco (or another salsa you like)
- ¼ cup tomato, washed and dried, finely chopped
- ¼ cup Pimiento Stuffed Spanish olives, sliced
- 2 medium-sized limes, washed and dried, cut into about 6 wedges each
- about 15 small (6 inch) flour or corn tortillas
- grapeseed oil for the pan (or other neutral oil, like vegetable)
- 1 pound Petrale Sole fillet, (or other firm, mild white fish like Cod or Mahi Mahi)
- Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Prepare the spice mix. In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, ground thyme, ground oregano, paprika, salt and cayenne. Set aside.
- Flavor the sour cream. In a small serving bowl, combine the sour cream with the chipotles in adobo and honey. Season to taste with a bit of salt. (Here's How to Season to Taste.)
- Prepare the fillings. Add the sliced avocados, pickled cabbage, salsa, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sliced olives and lime wedges in serving bowls. Set aside.
- Sauté the fish. Place the fish fillets on a clean, dry surface and coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with the oil. Heat the pan over high heat. While it's heating, sprinkle both sides of the fillets evenly with the spice mix. Once the pan is very hot, add a few of the coated fillets to it. You should hear a sizzling sound when they hit the pan -- if you don't, it's not hot enough yet. There should be a bit of space between each fillet, so if your pan isn't large enough for all of them, just sauté in batches. Sauté the fish just until it's cooked through, about 1 minute per side (for Petrale Sole). Once the fish is cool enough to touch, use a fork to break it into smaller pieces to fit in the tortillas. Place them on a large plate. Set aside.
- Warm the tortillas. Spread the tortillas out on a sheet pan and place them in the preheated 375°F oven just until they're warm, about 5 minutes.
- Serve! Place all of the prepared ingredients in their serving bowls and plates on the table and let everyone make their own tacos.
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I can't wait to try this, Valentina! I am a huge fan of fish tacos, and I know this one will be just a little different! I will report back!
Thanks, David. 🙂
This was amazing and is now our favourite meal - we are now planning a ton of dinner parties so we can share the love!!! And the pickled cabbage was soooooooo tasty (used soy sauce & harissa paste and it worked really well) Thank you, can't wait to try more of your recipes ?
Thanks so much, Caroline! So happy you tired and loved it, and I look forward to you trying more. It's one of our absolute favorites! 🙂
Fish tacos are one of my favorite meals and these look stupendous! I love the pickled cabbage as you know me and vinegar! Now I want these for dinner!
Thank you, Christina. I even skipped the cilantro! 😀 ~Valentina
Oh these look good. I love the spices you used. I can’t really blacken anything on my stove without setting off the fire alarm! But I love everything you used including the fish in these! Perfect for spring and summer!
Thanks so much, Mimi. Funny you should say that because even with my fan on high, I'm known to set off the fire alarm. Worth it, though. 😉 ~Valentina
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
I could always, always, go for tacos and these look scrumptious! And, even better, it just happens to be taco Tuesday!
Ha! Didn't realize it's Tuesday. Perfect! 😀 Thanks so much, Dawn. 🙂 ~Valentina
Oh, boy, these fish tacos look amazing! What a great idea for a summer party---but these will be on our menu before that.
So excited for summer parties as the world begins to open up. Thanks, Liz. 🙂 ~Valentina
David @ Spiced
I've been craving fish tacos lately! Maybe its the arrival of warmer air? Either way, these tacos sound amazing. That sauce is a great way to boost the flavor, but I have to admit that I've never seen olives in a taco. I'm intrigued! I like big, strong flavors, so I'm pretty sure I would love these blackened fish tacos. Now I just need to figure out how to bring Hawaii to my backyard! 🙂
Ha! I'd like Hawaii in my backyard, too! Especially the super warm water! Thanks, David. 🙂 ~Valentina
Love your idea of serving everything so guys can combine the ingredients as they like ! Perfect for summer day at the beach !
Ahh, a day a the beach! Sounds perfect. Thank you, Davorka. 🙂 ~Valentina
Jeff the Chef @ Make It Like a Man!
This sounds so delicious! Your fish looks amazing. And cream-honey-chipotle? Yes!
Thanks so much, Jeff! 🙂 ~Valentina
John / Kitchen Riffs
Love fish tacos. Any taco, really, but those made with fish are special. Love how you've flavored yours, too. Thanks!
Many thanks, John. Fish tacos do seem special, don't they? Love that. 🙂 ~Valentina
Wow! These look great. We love fish tacos so I’m definitely going to try this recipe. I’m over from Jeff, Make it like a Man.
Hi Eva! Thank you so much for visiting my site. (I love Jeff's recipes!) Hope you love this recipe and have a great weekend. 🙂 ~Valentina
David Scott Allen
As you know from my comment seven years ago (!), I love fish tacos, and still do. I am teaching a tortilla making class tonight to some of our students (both corn and flour), and will need to be having some tacos pretty soon to use up all the tortillas I’ll be making. I’ve made a variation on yours (I don’t use either dried garlic or onion) and they come out pretty perfect! The pickled cabbage is a big part of this! And the avocados! I don’t think I could have a fish taco without avocado.
Thanks, David. SO cool you are teaching tortilla making! I have a tortilla press I haven't used for way too many years. And I'm so with you on the avocado. I need it (or guacamole!) with any taco. 🙂 ~Valentina
I love everything about these fish tacos, Valentina! The blackened fish and that crunchy, tangy, spicy slaw look divine!
Thanks so much, Marissas! Enjoy. 🙂 ~Valentina
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop
I'm a huge fan of fish tacos and I can't wait to give yours a try. I really love the blackened seasoning you put on the fish. Talk about flavor! These look amazing.
Thank you, Kathy. Enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina
This is a perfect way to shake up our menu!! I'm stuck on beef tacos and it's getting old. These sound magnificent!!
Yes, let's shake up the menu. Love that. Enjoy and thank you! 🙂 ~Valentina
Karen (Back Road Journal)
I like everything you have included in your fish tacos, down to the sole you used.
Yay! Thanks so much, Karen. 🙂 ~Valentina
A pile of wraps, all your delicious ingredients, a wee bit more spice this side of the ocean . . . and a group of laughing friends doing their 'own thing' around the table with glasses filled . . . utter perfection !
So happy this looks good to you, Eha. Thank you! I always love more spice. 🙂 ~Valentina