Baja-Style Fish Tacos with Southwestern Slaw, Chipotle Pico de Gallo, and Mexican Crema

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Baja-Style Fish Tacos with Southwestern Slaw, Chipotle Pico de Gallo, and Mexican Crema - recipe by The Culinary Institute of America.

Baja-Style Fish Tacos with Southwestern Slaw,
Chipotle Pico de Gallo, and Mexican Crema

Fish tacos are among the most sought-after fare available from the abundance of marine life in the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean surrounding Baja, Mexico. While the inhabitants of Baja originated the idea, we can thank a U.S. college student who visited San Felipe on spring break for introducing them to us. Ralph Rubio fell in love at first bite and was able to get the recipe from the creator of his favorite fish taco. In 1983, Rubio began serving his own adaptation in San Diego, CA. Today they are gaining popularity, and different variations—whether battered and fried or not—are popping up on menus across America. The Culinary Institute of America’s chefs created the grilled version below that is perfect for an outdoor summer party.

“The combination of the fish and coleslaw is heady and robust, a perfect match for the rich taste of the pico de gallo and the lime-scented Mexican crema,” says CIA Chef Joe DiPerri. “Cut down on assembly time and spend more time with your guests by setting up a buffet of ingredients that allow your family and friends to build their own.”

The following recipes can be found in the CIA’s Grilling cookbook.

Fish Taco Ingredients:
Makes eight servings

  • 2 lb mahi-mahi
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • Salt, to taste
  • 8 flour tortillas, 8 inches in diameter
  • Southwestern Slaw (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup Chipotle Pico de Gallo (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup Mexican Crema (recipe follows)

Taco Directions:

  1. Preheat a gas grill to medium-high. If you are using a charcoal grill, build a fire and let it burn down until the coals are glowing red with a moderate coating of white ash. Spread the coals in an even bed. Clean the cooking grate.
  2. Cut the mahi-mahi into 16 equal slices.
  3. Combine the oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, coriander, garlic, and salt. Coat the mahi-mahi with the marinade.
  4. Grill the fish on the first side over direct heat until the flesh is firm and well-marked, about 2 minutes. Turn the fish and grill until cooked through, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more.
  5. Grill the tortillas until they have light grill marks and are heated through, about 15 seconds on the first side. Turn the tortillas and grill them until they just start to bubble, another 15 seconds.
  6. Center 2 pieces of grilled fish on each tortilla, and top with the Southwestern Slaw and Chipotle Pico de Gallo. Add a dollop of Mexican Crema, fold in half, and serve immediately.

Southwestern Slaw Ingredients:
Makes eight servings

  • 2 cups fine-shredded green cabbage
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp minced red onion
  • 2 tsp minced jalapeños
  • 2 tsp chopped cilantro
  • Salt, to taste

Slaw Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients.
  2. Allow the mixture to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours before serving.

Chipotle Pico de Gallo Ingredients:
Makes one cup

  • 1 cup medium-dice tomatoes (seeded before dicing)
  • 4 tsp minced red onion
  • 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 canned chipotle pepper, minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp cilantro chiffonade (cut into thin strips)

Pico de Gallo Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well.
  2. The pico de gallo is ready to use now or it can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Mexican Crema Ingredients:
Makes 1/2 cup

  • 1/2 cup Mexican sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest
  • 2 tsp lime juice

Mexican Crema Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. The cream is ready to use now or it can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  2. Note: If you cannot find Mexican sour cream at the store, substitute regular sour cream. Mexican sour cream has a milder acidic bite and a little more salt.