Tacos de Pescado de la Palapa (Fish Tacos)

Menu Part: 
Cuisine Type: 

Any mild, flaky white fish can be used in these soft tacos with smoky chipotle crema and avocado-tomatillo salsa. Serve with sides of red rice and black beans.


3 tbsp. corn oil
3 pasilla chilies, cut into 1-in.-thick rounds
1 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 cup achiote paste
3/4cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
1/4cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (about 1 grapefruit)
1/4cup roasted tomato salsa with arbol chilies
1/2 small white onion
1 tbsp. honey
1 garlic clove
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup olive oil

1 lb. tilapia, red snapper, catfish or other flaky, white fish fillets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. corn oil
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
12 romaine lettuce leaves from heart, each about 6 in. long and 2 in. wide
Avocado-tomatillo salsa or salsa of choice
1/2 cup crema seasoned with chipotle 


  1. Prepare Chilies: In sauté pan, heat corn oil over med. heat. Add chilies and cook, stirring, about 1 min, or until they plump up and crisp. Take care they do not scorch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl, season with salt and let cool.
  2. Prepare Marinade: Combine all ingredients except olive oil in blender; blend until liquefied. With motor running, add oil in a steady stream, processing until mixture is emulsified. Set aside in a nonreactive container. (Should be about 3 cups.)
  3. Pat fish fillets dry, season with salt and pepper and lay them in a shallow, nonreactive bowl. Add about ½ cup marinade, or just enough to coat fish. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hr. and no more than 2 hr. Remove fish from marinade and pat dry; discard marinade.
  4. Prepare Tacos: In nonstick skillet, heat corn oil over med-high heat. Sear fillets, turning once, about 2 min on each side, or just until they are opaque and flake easily.
  5. Add 1/2 cup marinade to skillet; scrape bottom to deglaze and cook about 2 min. longer, or until marinade thickens. Transfer fish to a plate; drizzle any marinade in pan over the top. Cut fillets into 2-in. pieces. (Reserve remaining 2 cups marinade; it will keep, refrigerated, up to 2 days.)
  6. For service, place about 2 tbsp. fish down center of each tortilla; top with lettuce leaf and 3 or 4 chili pieces. Fold tortilla in half and transfer to a serving plate. Repeat until all the ingredients are used, then arrange the tacos side by side so that they hold one another up. Serve the salsa and crema on the side.
Source: Chef-owners Barbara Sibley and Marguerite Malfy, La Palapa Cocina Mexicana, New York City

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