Recipes Main Courses Seafood Fish Tacos with Pickled Onions and Chilies
Fish Tacos with Pickled Onions and Chilies

Fish Tacos with Pickled Onions and Chilies

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6 Makes 12 tacos; serves 6.
Fish tacos have swept the Southwest in reaction to the growing popularity of fresh seafood. Tilapia, red snapper or another sea bass can be used in place of the Chilean sea bass, and any leftover pickled onions are good on grilled fish. Serve with fresh salsa.


For the pickled onions:

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 6 Tbs. thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced

For the marinade:

  • 1 large white onion, cut up
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 serrano chilies, stems removed
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, cut into large pieces
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. honey
  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 1 1/2 lb. Chilean sea bass or tilapia fillet, cut
      into large cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 to 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups romaine lettuce, finely shredded
  • 12 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1/2 cup canned pickled jalapeño strips
  • 3/4 cup crema
  • 6 lime wedges


To make the pickled onions, in a bowl, combine the vinegar, orange juice concentrate, sugar, oregano, bay leaves and salt. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the red onions and stir to coat evenly. Cover and let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 hours. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. The pickled onions will keep for up to 1 month.

To make the marinade, in a food processor, combine the white onion, garlic, chilies, cilantro and lime juice. Process until a coarse puree forms. Season with honey and salt. The flavor should be a balance of tart, sweet, salty and spicy. Pour into a bowl, add the fish and turn to coat. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Remove the fish from the marinade, scraping off the excess, and set aside on paper towels. Season the fish with salt and pepper.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add half of the fish and brown, turning as needed, until well seared, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to a plate. Repeat with the remaining fish. Break the cubes of cooked fish into smaller pieces and keep warm.

To assemble each taco, place 2 Tbs. of the lettuce in the center of a warmed tortilla and top with about one-twelfth of the fish. Add 2 or 3 strips pickled jalapeño and 1 Tbs. of the pickled onions. Drizzle with 1 Tbs. of the crema. Serve with lime wedges.
Makes 12 tacos; serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New American Cooking Series, The Southwest, by Kathi Long (Time-Life Books, 2001).