Fish tacos with sautéed Mahi Mahi
The fish so nice, they named it twice.
There is nothing more satisfying than biting into a crispy corn tortilla filled with fresh Mahi caught that day, seasoned with our Abacos Taco Rub. Whether we grill it or pan sauté it, the seasoning is the perfect amount of heat and flavor to compliment the delicate flavor of the Mahi Mahi. We love to add pickled onions and jalapeños, a tangy and creamy white sauce, adobe chipotle peppers, a dash of Patricia's hot sauce from Harbour Island, apple-cider coleslaw, cilantro, avocado, tomato, and topped off with a little cheddar cheese.
Homemade tacos have been a staple in my house ever since I can remember. My dad would sauté ground beef with his own taco blend and we would top it with raw onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese (as you'll learn, I can never just stick to the classics). It wasn't until I moved to Seattle and a friend had us over for tacos (with pre-made shells!) that I learned frying the shells with your own taco shaper wasn't something every one did when they made tacos at home. It took me five stores (this was pre-Amazon) to find a taco shaper. It wasn't at Sur La Table, Bed Bath and Beyond, William Sonoma, or one smaller store which I can't remember the name. I finally found it at Cost Plus World Market. I purchased that and a Fry Daddy and I've been continuing the family tradition of frying my taco shells. I have been converting people, one taco at a time (and having purchased many taco shapers as gifts) to the pure joy of eating tacos with your own fried taco shells.
As with many of my recipes, the accoutrements for these tacos started with a recipe found online - Fish Taco Platter on Epicurious.com. I make the pickled red onions and jalapeños and the Baja cream during the day or the night before. Everything else gets prepared before cooking the mahi. Once everything is prepared, I set it out so everyone can tailor their tacos how they prefer, and we either grill or pan sauté the mahi. When we grill the mahi (and this applies to every fish we grill), we season it just a shade-shy of generously, with our Abacos Taco Rub. Doug will take the seasoned fish and a plate that has an 1/8" of olive oil in it to the grill. Right before Doug places the fish on the grill, he quickly coats each side of the fish in the olive oil. This prevents the fish from sticking to the grill. We prefer to not marinate fish because fish is extremely porous and we find that the fish's texture gets modified (not in a good way) after sitting in a liquid marinade. We prefer to season the fish dry and top it with a good sauce (in this case, the Baja cream). If we aren't using the grill, I will pan sauté the mahi (and once again, this is how I pan sauté all our fish). I pre-heat a non-stick fry pan to medium. I add half olive oil, half butter or just olive oil; enough to coat the bottom of the pan when it is heated. I season the mahi with the Abacos Taco Rub.
I place the fish into the heated pan and put a lid over half of the pan. This allows the fish to cook quicker since the heat is being somewhat contained. The reason to only cover half of the pan is you want all the steam to get out. If you leave too much of the top covering the pan, the steam condenses on the bottom of the lid and the fish gets soggy, instead of perfectly cooked. Once you see the fish cooked through to the middle on the side of the pieces, flip the fish over with tongs to finish cooking it. While one of us is cooking fish, the other one is frying the taco shells. It is extremely easy to fry the taco shells, just make sure you don't overfill the Fry Daddy and place it on a surface that can get oil on it (it splatters a bit). You can always have soft tacos and heat the tortillas on the stove top or the grill for a few seconds on each side.
In the beginning, Doug would get frustrated with me because I would assemble all my tacos (3 - 5 depending on how hungry I am) before eating them. He was confused on how I would adjust the flavors. Since he's been eating my tacos for the past 12 years though, he now knows I don't need to mess with perfection (and even he has started preparing all his tacos before eating them since he has learned the flavors). We serve these tacos to many people, and the one thing I have noticed is people add too much of each topping. A little goes a longway because the last thing you want to do is overpower the delectable taste of the fish.
One more taco story before we get to the recipe (since they are such a staple in our house, we have more taco stories than most people ... do people have taco stories?). A few years into our relationship, Doug went to a Miami Dolphins game with his boss one evening. I stayed home and was craving tacos. So, in typical Georgia fashion, I went to the store and bought all the ingredients to make tacos (they were cauliflower tacos that night), and made a delicious taco dinner for myself. When Doug came home later that night, he went into the kitchen to grab a glass of water and noticed the makings of a taco dinner (the fryer was out and the taco shaper was in the sink). He came into the bedroom, woke me up, and asked me how I could do that. To say the least, I was confused. I asked him what he was talking about and he said "how could you do that? Make tacos without me? Don't you know how special tacos are?". And then he fell asleep. The next day, while he was moving slowly, I asked him what he would like for dinner. He said he didn't care. I suggested tacos. He said he didn't care, he would eat anything. I asked him if he was sure he didn't want tacos. Now he was confused. I prodded and said "aren't tacos special?". Now he was really confused. I told him what happened the previous night, which to this day he doesn't remember, but it is a great testament to how memorable our tacos are. Tacos are extremely special in our house and we hope our Taco Rub makes them equally so in your home.
- Makes 6 to 8 servings
Pickled Red Onion and Jalapeños
- 1/2 red onion, cut thinly crosswise
- 7 whole jalapeños, seeded, de-veined, and cut into strips
- 2 cups seasoned rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lime peel
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups bagged coleslaw mix
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- Corn (either white or yellow) tortillas
- Corn oil (enough to fill the fryer)
- Taco shaper
- Hook & Rub Abacos Fish Taco Rub
- Mahi fillets, bloodline trimmed out and cut into evenly size pieces
- Olive oil
- Diced onions
- Diced tomatoes
- Chipotle adobe peppers, seeded, cut into strips or salsa
- Hot sauce
- Cilantro leaves
- Avocados, sliced, or guacamole
- Lettuce (if not using coleslaw), torn into taco size pieces
- Shredded cheese
PREPARATIONPickled Red Onion and Jalapeños
- Place onion and jalapeños in heatproof medium bowl. Mix vinegar, lime juice, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture just to boil, stirring until salt dissolves. Pour it over the onion and jalapeños. Let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
- Whisk all ingredients in small bowl. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
- Add coleslaw mix to a large bowl. Add the apple cider vinegar and mix using tongs. Add the celery salt, cumin, and ground coriander and mix. Add salt and pepper and mix. Let it sit for 10 minutes and mix again before serving. Preferably make before serving. It will hold a day or two for leftovers.
If you do not have a fryer or prefer soft tacos, heat the tortillas in a saute pan or directly on the grill or stove top over medium heat for about 15 seconds a side until soft and slightly brown.
- Set up your fryer on a level surface with lots of ventilation and on a surface that can have oil splatter on it. Set up two layers of paper towels to put the cooked shells to dry. Fill the fryer with enough oil to just cover the taco shaper when fully submerged. Plug the fryer in and let it get to temperature (most fryers have one temperature and it is indicated with a ready red button; heat the oil to 350 degrees if your fryer has a temperature gauge). Open the taco shaper and place one tortilla inside the taco shape as evenly as possible. Close the taco shaper and place the tortilla in the oil. Hold the end of the taco shaper to keep it from opening up from the pressure of the heated oil. Leave it in the oil until the bubbles start to slow down. If you like a softer shell, take it out sooner and if you like a crispier shell, keep it in a few moments longer. Hold the tortilla over the paper towel and open the taco shaper to release the shell. It should remove from the taco shaper easily. Sometimes the shell shapes itself over one side of the taco shaper. If that happens, carefully bang the shaper on the counter to get it to release.
- Rinse the fish with cold water and immediately pat dry with paper towels. Place the fish on a platter in one layer. Generously sprinkle the Abacos Taco Rub over the top of the fish. Flip the fish over and sprinkle the other side. Let the fish sit for approximately 10 minutes (this gives the spice some time to really adhere to the fish).
- GRILL: Heat the grill to 350 degrees. While the grill is heating, prepare a dinner plate with 1/8" of olive oil on the side of the grill. Once the grill is at temperature, pick up a piece of fish, place both sides quickly in the olive oil, and place on the grill. Continue with the other pieces. Close the lid of the grill and cook for 3 minutes. Lift the lid to check on how quickly the fish is cooking. If your grill has hot spots, rearrange the fish to ensure even cooking. Once the fish is opaque a little more than halfway up the side of the fish, flip the fish over. Cook for another 2 minutes with the lid closed. Lift the lid and check a piece of fish. It should be opaque through the entire fillet. Remove the fish to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
- PAN-SAUTE: Heat a large saute pan over medium. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan (not too little that it is just coated and not too much that the fish sits in a layer of oil). Give the oil a few minutes to heat up. Add the fish fillets to the pan, without letting them touch each other (you may need to do this in two batches depending on the amount of fish and the size of your pan). Place a lid over half of the pan (I use the handle of the pan to support the lid; if you don't have a saute pan with a handle, place the lid on it to the point where it just barely stays on). You want the steam to have enough space to immediately leave the pan. Cook for 3 minutes. Lift the lid to check on how quickly the fish is cooking. If your stovetop has hot spots, rearrange the fish to ensure even cooking. Once the fish is opaque a little more than halfway up the side of the fish, flip the fish over. Cook for another 2 minutes with the lid positioned halfway on the pan. Lift the lid and check a piece of fish. It should be opaque through the entire fillet. Remove the fish to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
AssemblyEveryone is going to assemble their tacos differently depending on their taste buds. My ideal taco assembly is:
- Taco shell
- A layer of Baja Cream
- A fillet of fish, broken into pieces, and evenly placed inside the taco
- 3-4 pickled jalapeños and red onions
- A sliver of chipotle peppers or salsa
- A few dashes of hot sauce
- A layer of tomatoes
- A layer of avocados or a smear of guacamole
- A layer of cilantro leaves
- Topped with a layer of coleslaw
- And a sprinkling of shredded cheese