Fish tacos

Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Avocado Cilantro Lime Sauce.

The indigenous people who lived in the coastal areas of Mexico are credited with the invention of the very first fish taco. Over thousands of years, fishermen would wrap their fish catches in stone ground corn tortillas.

“Tacos de Pescado” originated in the Mexican state of Baja California. Ensenada and San Felipe both claim rights to inventing the fish taco as we know it today. The traditional Baja fish taco is typically a mild grilled white fish, cabbage slaw or lettuce, salsa and spicy mayo. 

It wasn’t until 1970 that the Tacos Fénix food stand in Ensenada, Mexico started serving the Baja fish taco commercially. It took until 1983, when restaurant entrepreneur Ralph Rubio opened “Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill” in San Diego and began serving fish tacos, that they really gained popularity in California.

Since the early 1980’s taco stands all over California have been selling fish tacos, and their popularity spread to many other parts of the United States. 

Fish tacos are light and easy to create. You can use any mild, white fish or even salmon or shrimp. The fish can be grilled, fried in batter or pan fried.

Use your favorite taco spices mixed with olive oil and lime juice as a marinade before cooking. Start with a corn or flour tortilla and layer the ingredients in the taco shell. Cole slaw (or lettuce) is used as the first layer, and you can use the mayonnaise-based variety slaw or a citrus slaw. 

You can even experiment with adding other fresh vegetables to your slaw, such as grilled corn or hot or mild peppers. Homemade Pico de Gallo is a great topping, and try an avocado cilantro lime sauce for added creaminess. Serve with jalapeños, avocados, onions and cilantro with lime wedges on the side.

Fish Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Lime Sauce

4 servings 


1 1/2 lbs. cod or other mild white fish (about 4-6oz fillets)

1 1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 Tbsp avocado oil (or another high-heat oil)

In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and salt. Place fish in a shallow container. Pat dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel (this will help your seasoning mix stick). Rub with seasoning blend, coating generously.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, cook fillets 3-4 minutes per side or until fish is opaque and cooked through. Repeat with remaining fish. Gently separate cooked fish into small sections for tacos.


2 cups shredded green cabbage or coleslaw mix

2 cups shredded purple cabbage

1/4 cup cilantro

Juice of 1 lime (1–2 Tbsp)

1/2 Tbsp honey

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Mix all slaw ingredients in a bowl and add more honey and lime juice if needed. Letting the mixture sit for a while will allow the salt and lime juice to break down the cabbage.


2 ripe avocados

½ cup sour cream (or mayonnaise)

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp. cilantro

Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a blender or place the avocados in a bowl and smash with a fork then add the other ingredients and seasoning. 


Place the slaw on the taco shell, add the flaked fish then top with your favorite toppings. Drizzle with citrus avocado sauce. 

Have fun in the kitchen!

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Susan Vander Maas is a graduate of Ohio State University/ATI Wooster. She is co-owner of Doc’s Deli, established in 2007.