Grilled Tuna Tacos & Salsa Verde

Tacos are fun. They’re eat-while-standing-up food. They’re perfect-with-alcohol food…they’re party food.

I’ve always loved tacos—tacos (or spareribs) were my favorite dinner as a child, and they remain so to this day. I don’t, however, make tacos often. I’m not sure why, since they are easy as pie (much easier actually). I think it may be some deep-seated masochistic self-hatred—or maybe I just like to keep my favorite things special. Whatever the reason, it needs to stop.

Tacos should be eaten regularly. There’s so many different approaches to a taco that you could eat tacos everyday for months without getting bored (though you may put on a few pounds!). You have your pork, beef, or chicken tacos, your fish tacos, bean tacos—I’ve even heard of chocolate tacos. The possibilities of different cheeses, sauces, vegetables, and even fruit that can go into your tacos is endless. Then you can pick from soft tacos, or puffy tacos, or hard, crackly ones. There’s no reason that one shouldn’t have tons of tacos. The more tacos, the better, and the more people that you share them with, the merrier. Tacos are perfect party food—everyone loves them, and they leave the hostess free to party it up with her friends. There’s something wonderfully fun and inviting about setting out a bunch of bowls and accouterments for your guests and letting them put their plates together. It makes dinner a bit of a game.

But, I feel like I’ve become a bit of a Taco PR-girl, so I’ll end this post shortly—after recommending, of course, these tacos. They may be a bit more difficult than pie—since you make the salsa verde and the cabbage slaw from scratch—but they are absolutely worth the effort, making themselves my favorite tacos ever (and that’s an accomplishment!).

The salsa verde is bright, tangy and able to cut right through the creamy lime mayonnaise slaw. The onions, which I used to marinate the (very fresh) tuna and then used to top the grilled tuna tacos, are softened through the marinating—they retain a bit of onion-bite but aren’t offensive. If you’re unsure about eating onions that touched raw fish, reserve some of them for serving before you add to the raw tuna.

I suggest you taste the salsa verde before adding the sugar and the chicken broth—I found I didn’t need much sugar (I used 1/4 tsp) because my tomatillos were sweet, and I didn’t use as much chicken broth as the recipe called for (I used 1/2 cup) because I didn’t want to dilute the bold, punchy flavor.

Finally, I urge you to fry your tortillas. It’s a celebration, right? Screw your diet!

Grilled Fish Tacos

serves 4//from Bon Appetit May 08

  • 2 cups chopped white onion, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 1 pound tilapia, striped bass, or sturgeon fillets*
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Corn tortillas
  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted, sliced
  • 1/2 small head of cabbage, cored, thinly slice
  • Salsa Verde
  • Lime wedges

Stir 1 cup onion, 1/4 cup cilantro, oil, 3 tablespoons lime juice, orange juice, garlic, and oregano in medium bowl**. Sprinkle fish with coarse salt and pepper. Spread half of onion mixture over bottom of 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange fish atop onion mixture. Spoon remaining onion mixture over fish. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Turn fish; cover and chill 30 minutes longer. Whisk mayonnaise, milk, and remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice in small bowl.***

Brush grill grate with oil; prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill fish with some marinade still clinging until just opaque in center, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Grill tortillas until slightly charred, about 10 seconds per side.

Coarsely chop fish; place on platter. Serve with lime mayonnaise, tortillas, remaining 1 cup chopped onion, remaining 1/2 cup cilantro, avocados, cabbage, Salsa Verde, and lime wedges.

*I used tuna steaks.

**I used all the onions, then marinated the fish and used the marinade for a topping afterwards. Come on, you eat sushi, right?

***Instead of serving the cabbage and lime mayonnaise separately, I combined them and served as a slaw.

Salsa Verde

3 unpeeled garlic cloves
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed
1 small onion, quartered through root end
3 to 6 serrano chiles or 2 to 4 jalapeรฑo chiles
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon (or more) sugar*
Coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup low-salt chicken broth**
2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lime juice
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat).*** Thread garlic onto skewer. Grill garlic, tomatillos, onion quarters, and chiles until dark brown spots form on all sides, about 9 minutes for onion, 6 minutes for tomatillos and chiles, and 4 minutes for garlic. Cool. Peel garlic. Trim core from onion. Scrape some of burnt skin off chiles; stem. Seed chiles for milder salsa, if desired. Coarsely chop onion, chiles, and garlic. Transfer tomatillos and all vegetables to blender. Add cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon sugar; puree until smooth. Season to taste with coarse salt.

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Carefully add tomatillo mixture (juices may splatter). Stir until slightly thickened, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add broth and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until mixture measures 2 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and more sugar and lime juice, if desired. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and chill.

*I used 1/4 tsp.

**I used 1/2 cup.

***I made everything (successfully I should think) on a cast-iron grill pan.

23 thoughts on “Grilled Tuna Tacos & Salsa Verde”

  1. I haven’t had a fish taco since … well, since the only time I ever had fish tacos! I was at SIGGRAPH 2001 in L.A. and on a day I had off from the conference, a couple I knew took me to the famous Wahoo’s Fish Tacos on Santa Monica Blvd. They were so flippin’ tasty I have no clue why I haven’t made them myself! Really though, Robin, yours look as though they put Wahoo’s amazing tacos to shame! Looks as though I need to go find me some decent tuna and get started, eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. This looks amazing. I’ve never found a fantastic fish taco to match the ones I get at the family owned restaurant around the corner but I think this may be it.

  3. Luna: Fresh tuna, tilapia, really any fish that can be grilled would work great. And the recipe makes a lot of salsa so you’ll have plenty leftover for chips! If you loved fish tacos once, you DEFINITELY need to get cooking!

    Francie: That’s probably tough competition, but I’m confident in these babies!

  4. Yum, this sounds great! I’ve got a whole bag of individually wrapped tuna fillets in the freezer I’ve been meaning to use. I’ve also got a jar of salsa verde in the cabinet that desperately needs opening, and I’ve always got corn tortillas in the freezer as well! It couldn’t get more perfect than that.

    I’ve never had a fish taco before though, even though I now love fish and I’ve always loved tacos…I certainly start out with tuna, and I can’t see it being bad at all. I’ll try this next week!

    The Peanut Butter Boy

  5. Mmm … I’ve been meaning to try fish tacos for a while now, they do sound good! Tuna sounds most appealing to me, I’ll bet it’ll taste great with the salsa flavours.

  6. tacos are one of my favorite foods. i’ll eat a fish taco, but i’ll also eat – and enjoy – some ground beef seasoned with old el paso.

    hell, i’ll eat anything put into taco form.

    i like these because you don’t have to fry, like a traditional fish taco. these will be great at a barbecue.

  7. Agreed that tacos should be eaten often. All the time. I’ve made fish tacos but never with tuna. I never really thought about it until now and it sounds worth a try. I do like using tilapia, but it can also get a bit boring.

  8. This looks amazing! I really need to stop reading these posts so late at night. I think your post may have pushed me into needing a midnight snack.

  9. Yumm this looks fantastic! Great job grilling the veggies, I love the smokey flavor of grilled jalepenos.

  10. your salsa verde is rocking my socks off. i’m sure it makes a perfect compliment to the tacos, although i’d be sorely tempted to just go ahead and take a spoon to a bowlful of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Oh man Robin, that’s one good lookin’ salsa! I’m not a huge fan of tuna, but, man, I think I’d eat my shoe if it was covered in that stuff!! So hungry….

  12. claudia just made fish tacos recently too. I think it’s a sign. ๐Ÿ˜›

    not that I need much of a sign. like I told her, fish tacos are one of my favorite, FAVORITE foods EVER. I am lucky enough to live in socal, where I can get them grilled, but preferably fried, and orgasmically good.

    thanks for this one robin. I’m all about that salsa verde recipe.

  13. I think that this just might be the next ‘sunny warm day’ menu item!

    I love a good taco, and you’re right that you could eat them for a month and never have the same one twice. Have you ever made your own tortillas? Ooooh Robin…. you would LOVE them!

  14. This looks absolutely fantastic! I made salsa verde once for the Cooking Illustrated recipe and decided that it’d be easier to just buy the salsa at the store ๐Ÿ™‚
    Next time tuna is on sale, I’d have to give this a try.

  15. It’s 78 degrees outside, the sun is shining, and I happen to have orange roughy AND tuna steak that I need a plan for. And I stumble across this.

    Oh, yes. I believe in serendipity! I ate a lot of fish tacos when I first moved to San Antonio, but in the last year I got… I don’t know… can’t claim “lazy” since fish tacos are so flippin’ easy… I just stopped. Now it’s time to embrace the delicious Southwest vibe again. Thanks!

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