Fish tacos are something that I never get sick of.
Well, to be more accurate, I never get sick of tacos, period.
How can you ever get sick of them, though? The category of things to fill shells and tortillas with is literally endless, and I think this recipe is a prime example of how you can get really creative with it.
Once you take a bite of this complex, fresh, and zesty meal, you’ll understand exactly what I mean.
These salmon tacos are fresh and tangy, with a coffee chili spice rub that highlights and elevates the flavor of the fish. The tomatillo guacamole is full of fresh ingredients that are both smooth and tangy.
Finally, you get that epic crunch from the red cabbage slaw. It provides such a lovely texture and slight brightness from the acid in the mixture.
For me, this recipe is a big winner because it’s so darn healthy. All the ingredients are fresh and help complement the other flavors and textures in the dish.
Personally, I love to add a few dashes of hot sauce for a little added heat, and a good dollop of creamy and cooling sour cream to top it all off.
This helps when I inevitably add too much hot sauce to the dish. Can anyone else relate?
But even without these optional add-ons, you have a fresh and satisfying meal that’s bit on flavor, and fun to eat.
And I seriously can’t believe how easy this recipe is to make.
Okay, okay. I know that a long list of ingredients can be intimidating, but this recipe is about as straightforward as it gets.
Thankfully, most of the work that you have to complete is done by the grill or oven, food processor, and other lovely little kitchen helpers. This means less hands-on active cooking for you.
When it comes to seafood, salmon is hands-down my favorite of all the fish in the sea. I would love to eat it every day, but my husband happens to loathe it so it’s a rare occasion when I get to prepare it at home.
I wish he loved the fish as much as I did, because it has so many beneficial nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids. The nutrients in salmon also offer other potential health benefits including lowering the chance of cardiovascular disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and even some types of cancer. There’s also a good amount of vitamin B12 that helps your blood and nerve cells to function.
But enjoying it as a taco filling along with the homemade guacamole and slaw that you’ll learn to make here is my current favorite.
The best part of this recipe is that you can either grill the fish or you can broil it, depending on the time of year and what you’re in the mood for. Either way, it’s exceptionally easy to cook the salmon, break it into chunks, and add it to tortillas with the guacamole and cabbage.
You will fall in love with this dish from the very first bite. The flavors burst over your taste buds so you get heat, acid, fat, and a cooling sensation at the very end.
My mouth is watering already, so I’m going to have to excuse myself before I start drooling all over my keyboard over here…
So go ahead and add salmon to your shopping list for this week. Every day is a perfect day to be eating tacos, after all. Don’t just limit yourself to Taco Tuesday!Print
Whether you grill up this fish or prepare it in the broiler, this dish offers a delicious new twist on taco night. And it’s insanely easy to make.
For the Guacamole:
- 2 medium tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed (approx. 5–6 oz)
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, divided
- Juice of 1 lime, divided
- 1 ripe Haas avocado
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided, plus more to taste
For the Slaw:
- 2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon olive oil, divided
- 5 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (approx. 1 ¼ lbs)
For the Tacos:
- 2 pounds salmon fillet, skin on, center cut, about 1 inch thick
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground coffee
- 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8–12 small corn or flour tortillas
- Sour cream (optional)
- Hot sauce (optional)
- Freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish
To Make the Guacamole and Slaw:
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the tomatillos. Simmer for about 3 minutes – they’ll turn sort of olive green. Remove from water and submerge in an ice bath or set aside to cool for a few minutes, until you can handle them without burning your fingers.
- Peel the tomatillos if desired, then give them a rough chop.
- In a food processor, process together the tomatillo, onion, jalapeno, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and half of the lime juice, until fairly smooth. Then, pulse in the avocado. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.
- Toss together the sliced red cabbage with the remaining lime juice from the guacamole and remaining cilantro. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside for at least 10 minutes before serving.
To Make the Salmon and Assemble:
- Pat fillets dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl, stir together the coffee, brown sugar, cumin, coriander, chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Use a brush to coat the tops of the salmon fillets with the spice mixture.
- Oil and preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Grill the salmon, skin side down, just until it flakes easily with a fork, about 8-10 minutes. Alternatively, you can broil the salmon on an aluminum-lined rimmed baking sheet, just until it flakes easily with a fork, for about 10-12 minutes on High.
- Remove from the heat. Use a spatula to lift the salmon pieces off of their skins and onto a serving platter. Break the flesh up into chunks.
- Quickly warm your tortillas. Then, serve the salmon in tortillas topped with the tomatillo guacamole and cabbage. If desired, you can also add some sour cream and your favorite hot sauce.
Nutritional information below does not include optional toppings.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Tacos
- Method: Grilling, Broiling
- Cuisine: Fish and Seafood
Keywords: fish tacos, salmon, cabbage slaw, tomatillo, guacamole
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prepare Tomatillos, Dice and Slice Vegetables, Chop Cilantro, and Measure Remaining Ingredients
Remove the husks from 2 medium tomatillos. Rinse them well.
Dice enough red onion until you have 1/4 cup total.
Remove the seeds from one jalapeno and dice. If you want a little more heat to your dish, keep the seeds and simply dice the pepper.
Chop enough cilantro leaves until you have 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon total.
Thinly slice enough red cabbage until you have 5 cups total. You can use a knife, or you can use the shredding attachment for your food processor. If you use your food processor, be sure to clean it out after shredding, as you will need to use it again for the guacamole. You will use about ⅝ of a medium-sized cabbage, or about 1 ¼ pounds.
Be sure to remove any bones from the salmon. Tweezers come in handy for this. You can also ask someone at the fish counter to do this for you.
Measure out all the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.
Step 2 – Make the Guacamole
Place a small pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add tomatillos and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the tomatillos for about 3 minutes. They should turn olive green.
Remove from water and place in a large mixing bowl of ice and water, or set aside until cool enough to handle.
Blanching will make the tomatillos easier to peel. If you prefer, you can skip this step. It’s fine to eat them raw.
Roughly chop them (or skip that, too!) and add them to a food processor with the onion, jalapeno, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and half the lime juice. Process until fairly smooth.
Add avocado and pulse to form a sauce that is chunky or smooth. The decision is up to you. Season with salt to taste and set aside.
Step 3 – Make the Slaw
In a large bowl, add the cabbage, remaining lime juice, and remaining cilantro.
Toss to combine. Drizzle the mixture with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Let rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Step 4 – Cook the Fish
Using a paper towel, pat the fillets dry.
Stir together the coffee, brown sugar, cumin, coriander, chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. Stir in the olive oil.
Brush the mixture on the tops of the salmon fillets evenly.
Oil and preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Grill the salmon, skin side down, until it is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. The timing will depend based on how thick your fish is. Mine were about 1 inch thick, and they took about 8 minutes total to cook over medium-high heat.
If you don’t have a grill, you can broil the salmon on a baking sheet that’s been lined with aluminum foil. Bake for about 10-12 minutes on High until it flakes easily with a fork.
Remove the salmon from the heat and use a spatula to remove the salmon flesh from the skins. Break the flesh up into chunks and transfer it to a bowl or serving platter.
Want to mix up the flavors? Instead of this dry rub, try our recipe for Honey Ginger Salmon for a different twist!
Step 5 – Warm Tortillas
Warm your tortillas quickly for about 15-30 seconds, wrapped in damp paper towels in the microwave on High.
Step 6 – Assemble
To assemble the tacos, add a portion of salmon to each warm tortilla. Top with tomatillo guacamole and crunchy cabbage slaw.
Serve with sour cream, your favorite hot sauce, and a sprinkle of freshly chopped cilantro, if desired.
Make It Your Way
There are tons of possible variations for this recipe, from the type of fish that you use to the spice level and the sauce that you pair it with.
First, everything from white fish to shrimp will work for the seafood filling. All you have to do is adjust your cooking time according to the type of fish that you use.
Do you like more spice in your food? You can add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the fish seasoning mixture.
Can’t get enough tacos in your life? Here are some additional recipes to try out from Foodal:
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos with Salsa Verde
- Shrimp Tacos with Green Onion and Cilantro Crema
- Cajun Chicken Tacos
- Spicy Pork Tacos with Peach and Corn Salsa
What’s your favorite way to cook salmon – on the grill or in the oven? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate this recipe when you try it at home.
Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on June 25, 2013. Last updated: April 26, 2021 at 17:21 pm.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.