Welcome to On Board in 20: a recipe series where we share wholesome, family-style meals you can prepare in about 20 minutes. The recipes always contain whole food ingredients and are intended to be brought to the table for family members to build and construct their individual plates as their senses guide them. Along the way, we bring you tips and tricks for speeding up prep and clean up for those busy weeknight meal times.
There have been 12 installments in the On Board in 20 series and I can't believe I haven't shared a recipe for fish tacos here yet! Fish tacos are such a quick, family friendly meal — and by quick I mean lightning speed. Sometimes proteins can be tricky to get on the table in 20 minutes. They usually require some handling (pounding or mincing) and you have to keep a close eye on them. Most fish, however, requires little to no handling and cooks through in about four to five minutes.
The key is ensuring you start with very cold fish (unlike other animal proteins where you want to bring them to room temperature before cooking) and a smoking hot pan. The sear is essential to preventing the fish from falling apart when you remove it from the pan, and a good fish spatula doesn’t hurt either.
I selected cod for tonight’s dinner but easily could have used snapper, halibut or even salmon. Cod is nice because it comes boneless (as with any fish, always keep an eye out though) and flakes really well on high heat. As the cast iron gets to a smoke hot temperature, you can mix the rub and season the fish.
This recipe is very mild and suited for a little one's taste buds, but a bit of Cajun seasoning or cayenne would give it a nice kick. The cabbage adds a much needed crunch and red cabbage would work equally well.
The avocado crema has several options for variety. If you don’t have a mini processor you could simply layer the avocado, sour cream and cilantro on each tortilla shell and add your own healthy dose of lime. We like the smooth texture of bringing them all together.
And finally, I wouldn’t skip the feta. You could also use queso fresco or Cotija but they are harder to find in our neighbourhood. A small amount of dry feta gives a perfect briny balance to the rich crema and smoky fish.
The next time you're really pressed for time and need a healthy, family friendly dinner on the table stat, give Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Crema a try.
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 & ½ lbs cod (or halibut, snapper or salmon)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- ⅛ of a head of cabbage, about 1 & ½ cups shredded
- 2 green onions
- 3 medium carrots
- 3 limes
- ½ avocado (optional: retain other half for the board)
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 large bunch of cilantro
- ¼ cup feta, queso fresca or Cojita cheese
- 10 flour tortillas
- Optional: fresh cut tomatoes, jalapenos
- Put a cast iron pan over high heat with 1 tablespoon oil.
- While pan is heating, prepare the fish. Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Drizzle both sides of the fish with remaining oil and then sprinkle both sides with spice mixture. Rub the mixture into the fish and place in the hot pan, lowering heat to medium high. Cook on one side for about 4 to 5 minutes depending on thickness. Flip for two more minutes and then remove from pan and let rest on cooling rack.
- While the fish is cooking, prepare the slaw. Cut the cabbage roughly into long strands and add to bowl. Using just the greens of the onion, cut them in half and then lengthwise into thin strips and add to the cabbage. Using a spiralizer, peel the carrots. If you do not have one, julienne the carrots or use a regular peeler to peel them into long strips. Toss the slaw with 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- To make the crema, put one half of an avocado, the sour cream and a small handful of cilantro (stems and all -- about ⅓ cup, loosely packed) and the juice of half a lime into a mini processor. Blend till smooth.
- To assemble the board: Place the fish on parchment on the board. Pile the slaw on one corner of the board. Put the avocado crema in a small bowl and garnish with the cheese, then place on the board. If you prefer the tortilla shells heated put them on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a wet piece of paper towel that's been wrung out. Microwave for about 20 seconds and they will steam soft. Garnish the board with lime wedges, the remainder of the cilantro, and (optional) jalapenos and tomatoes.
Looking for More 20-Minute Meal Ideas?
- Vegetarian Potato & Cauliflower Curry
- Coconut & Bean Soup with Crostini Bar
- Lemon Chicken Build-Your-Own Soup
- Or check out our entire 20-Minute Meal gallery for more ideas!
Lisa Bolton is the creator, writer and photographer behind Food Well Said, her blog about bringing thoughtfully prepared, whole food recipes. She lives in the Lower Mainland of BC and you can reach her on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.