RECIPE: Frozen fillets make weeknight fish tacos easy to pull off

Fish Tacos with Shortcut Slaw can come together quickly for a weeknight meal. Henri Hollis/For The AJC

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

Frozen fish can be a lifesaver on a weeknight. Not only is the quality often better than the so-called fresh fish sitting behind the grocery seafood counter, but it’s also easy to store and quick to thaw. My favorite way to serve it? Ultra-fast fish tacos with a shortcut slaw.

Make the slaw before cooking the fish so it has a little time to marinate before serving. I like to use packaged coleslaw mix here as a quick-prep shortcut. All it needs is a little lime juice, vegetable oil, and salt to turn it into a bright and tangy topping for the fish.

You can use whatever white fish you’d like in the tacos. I prefer fast-cooking thin fillets (no more than 1/2-inch thick), but you can cook thicker fish; just increase the cooking time below by about 1 minute more per side. But before you place them into a skillet, pat the fish very, very dry — thawed frozen fish tends to be more damp than fresh — then season with salt and a little bit of ground cumin.

A couple of minutes in hot oil is all the fish needs to turn from raw to golden brown and flaky; then you’re ready to pile it into hot flour tortillas and top with that tangy slaw.

Note: Whether you’ve thought (a little) ahead and moved a few fillets from the freezer the night or morning before, or you’re needing to quickly get the fish from rock-hard to ready-to-cook in a bowl of cool water, remember a few safety tips. Vacuum-sealed frozen fish can harbor bacteria if thawed in its original packaging, so make sure to always move it to a new, clean bag (if quickly thawing in cool water) or a clean, lipped container (if thawing in the fridge). Make sure to cook the fish the same day you’ve thawed it, and never refreeze thawed fish. Finally, the microwave is not a great way to thaw frozen fish, as tempting as it may be.

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Fish Tacos with Shortcut Slaw. Henri Hollis/For The AJC

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

Fish Tacos with Shortcut Slaw
  • 4 cups packaged coleslaw mix
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Vegetable oil, for the fish and slaw
  • Salt, for the fish and slaw
  • 1 pound thin white fish fillets (1/4- to 1/2-inch thick), thawed if frozen
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 (8-inch) white flour tortillas
  • In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw mix, lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Stir well, then season to taste with salt. Set aside for serving.
  • Pat the fish very dry with paper towels. Season on all sides with salt and the cumin.
  • Coat a large nonstick or well-seasoned carbon steel skillet with vegetable oil and place over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the fish and cook until the flesh begins to flake, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  • Wrap the tortillas in a clean kitchen towel and microwave on high until hot, about 30 seconds.
  • Serve the fish in the warm tortillas, topped with the slaw. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 534 calories (percent of calories from fat, 31), 32 grams protein, 59 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 18 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 81 milligrams cholesterol, 1,540 milligrams sodium.
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