fish tacos with cilantro sauce

fish tacos with cilantro sauce

You know it’s really good when your taste testers are asking you to make it again the next day. That’s exactly what happened when I served these fish tacos with cilantro sauce, and yes, I am making them again this week. Not only are they tasty and quick to cook but there are a lot of “bonus options” for these tacos.

The first bonus is that they are very “personalize-able” without much extra effort. Think ice cream sundaes – it’s all about the toppings. Like ice cream toppings there are a few guaranteed crowd pleasers so I’d suggest always serving with the cilantro sauce, marinated red onions and thinly sliced red cabbage. Avocado, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers and green cabbage are great on these too.

vegetables for tacos    tomaotes

red cabbage    cabbage

The second bonus is you can substitute almost any white fish for tilapia as long as it’s a meaty white fish and flakes nicely once it’s cooked. Oh and while we’re on the cooking, that’s another bonus, you can cook the fish on the grill, in the oven or sautéed in a frying pan. Some of the city dollopers without grills have asked about recipes that have alternative cooking methods so today we’re going to cook these on the stove. If you need tips or directions for grilling the fish or baking it just send me an e-mail.

Before we start on the fish if you don’t have a batch of marinated red onions in your refrigerator I’d suggest making these first so they have time to sit. These add a nice crunch and vinegar flavor on top of the finished tacos and they are so tasty you’ll quickly find other uses for them.

marinating the fish

The lime juice, cilantro, garlic and cumin combination gives the fish a nice flavor. Combine all marinade ingredients and mix throughly. Pour the marinade into a ziploc, add the fish filets and seal. Turn the bag a few times and then put the bag in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to an hour before cooking. As regular dollopers know I think ziploc bags are great for marinades so you can easily turn the fish a few times while it’s in the refrigerator but a pan will work well too.

lemon juice cumin cilantro fish fish in marinade

cilantro sauce

Mixing sour cream and milk creates a nice loose, creamy texture for this sauce. Adding cilantro, lime juice and zest, garlic and scallion to the mixture creates a dressing for the fish tacos that brings out the marinade flavors and compliments the other toppings. This sauce can be made hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

sour cream


sour cream and milk


zest in cream

scallion in crema crema for fish tacos

sautéing the fish

Here’s another bonus, if you don’t like red peppers you can substitute green peppers, an onion or a combination of the three. Slice the pepper and sauté in a little vegetable oil in a large frying pan before you put the fish in, about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Once you put the fish filets in pour the marinade from the bag (or pan) into the frying pan and let the fish cook for 5-7 minutes without moving it. You can push the peppers around if they start to stick a little. Then flip the filets and let them sit for at least another 3 minutes so the pan side of the fish is now cooked. Stir the peppers and move some of the cilantro from the sides of the pan to on top of the fish. Once the fish is just about finished flake the fish apart (break into medium size pieces). Then flip the flakes a few times each until the fish is completely cooked. Remove the fish from the pan and put into a serving dish.

sliced red peppers

peppers in pan

fish raw in pan fish in pan

to serve

Warm the tortillas for a few minutes in the oven and place in a cloth covered basket or plate. Prepare toppings and put them in small bowls on the table. This creates a pretty and colorful table setting and allows diners to pick and choose which toppings they would like.

5.0 from 1 reviews
fish tacos with cilantro sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 5 servings
  • Tilapia filets - 1½ lbs
  • Vegetable oil - ½ cup
  • Lime juice - 1½ tablespoons
  • Garlic - 3 cloves crushed
  • Cumin - ½ teaspoon
  • Black pepper - ¼ teaspoon
  • Cilantro - 1½ cups chopped
  • Milk - 3 tablespoons
  • Sour cream - 5 tablespoons
  • Lime - zest of 1 lime, 1 teaspoon of lime juice
  • Scallion - 1 finely chopped
  • Garlic - 1 small clove crushed (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Cilantro - ½ cup of leaves chopped
  • Small tortillas - 8 - 12
  • Marinated red onions
  • Cherry tomatoes - cut into quarters
  • Avocado - sliced
  • Red cabbage - thinly sliced
  • Green cabbage - thinly sliced
  • Jalapeno peppers - thin slices
  • Hot sauce
  1. Marinate the red onions if you do not have a batch in your refrigerator
  3. Combine the vegetable oil, lime juice, crushed garlic, cumin and black pepper in a bowl and mix thoroughly
  4. Rinse and roughly chop 1½ cups of cilantro including some of the stems
  5. Add to the marinade mixture and stir
  6. Put the fish filets in a large ziploc bag, pour in marinade
  7. Seal bag removing as much air as possible
  8. Turn bag a few times so fish is thoroughly coated and put into refrigerator
  9. Store in the refrigerator 45 minutes to 1 hour turning bag a few times
  11. Combine milk and sour cream in a bowl and mix throughly
  12. Add lime juice, zest, chopped scallion and crushed garlic and mix
  13. Add in cilantro and stir
  14. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve
  16. Pour vegetable oil into a large frying pan
  17. Add in sliced peppers and sauté for 5 minutes stirring regularly
  18. Place the fish filets in pan and pour in marinade
  19. Let fish cook 5-7 minutes before flipping
  20. Flip filets once and let the pan side of the fish cook completely
  21. Continue to stir peppers and put cilantro from pan on top of cooking filets
  22. Once fish is almost cooked flake the filets into pieces
  23. Flip the flakes a few times until fish is completely cooked
  24. Remove from heat and put in a serving dish
  25. Warm tortillas in oven for a few minutes
  26. Prepare selected toppings
  27. Serve

Have other topping ideas? Post a comment so other dollopers can enjoy too!

2 thoughts on “fish tacos with cilantro sauce

  1. Each summer we have a couple of recipes that become regulars for weekend guests — and these Fish Tacos are our Summer of 2015 favorite. I like recipes that let me do the prep earlier in the day and this one works. For the Cilantro sauce I adjust the amount of garlic based on my guests. Some like a lot of kick and I cut back for others.

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