Along with catfish, tilapia is among the most extensively farmed fish in North America. It’s also one of the leanest white fish fillets with a honey-like sweetness and fine texture that make it ideal for tacos. (You can also substitute any white-fleshed skinless fish fillet or grilled shrimp for the tilapia.) To save time, use a good-quality bottled ranch dressing from the refrigerator section or your favorite deli coleslaw.
Grilled Tilapia Tacos
For the ranch dressing:
- 1/2 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) mayonnaise
- Juice of 1/ 2 lemon
- 3 Tbs. buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
- 1 tsp. hot-pepper sauce
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
For the tacos:
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) canola oil or other mild vegetable oil
- 1 Tbs. ancho chile powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 jalapeño chile, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 lb. (500 g) tilapia fillet
- 8 corn or flour tortillas
- Cooking spray for tortillas
- 2 cups (8 oz./250 g) your favorite coleslaw
- 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
1. To make the ranch dressing, in a bowl, using the back of fork, mash together the garlic and salt into a paste. Add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, parsley, cilantro and pepper and mix well. Use immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
2. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill (425°–450°F/220°–230°C).
3. In a wide, flat bowl, combine the oil, chile powder, cumin, jalapeño chile and salt and mix well. Cut each fillet down its center line, dividing it into thicker and thinner sections. Turn the fish pieces in the chile oil mixture, coating them evenly, and set aside in the mixture for 15 minutes.
4. Set a grill screen on the grill and coat with oil. Place the thicker fish pieces on the screen and cook, turning once, until opaque all around the edges, about 3 minutes per side. Cook the thinner pieces the same way but for only about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to a platter and keep warm. Remove the grill screen.
5. Lightly spray the tortillas on both sides with cooking spray and brown directly over the fire, turning once, until grill marked and flexible, about 20 seconds per side. Wrap the tortillas in a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.
6. To serve, invite the diners to assemble their own tacos, piling a fish fillet, a splash of ranch dressing, a pile of slaw and some avocado on each tortilla. Serves 4.
For this recipe and other secrets on how to make fabulous food
on the grill, check out our essential guide to cooking on fire,
Grill School, by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim.