Salmon Tacos with Tomatillo Guacamole and Red Cabbage

Tim making tacos

Speaking of tacos, I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to tell you about these salmon ones Tim and I made last month.

broiled salmon

We discovered them in the midst of that period of weeks where we’d been regularly testing new fish recipes, smoking out our kitchen and almost destroying our cast iron pan in the process. I already told you about those salmon experiments; I already told everyone about those salmon experiments.

But, kind of in the same way that I’d find it more natural to tell you about the   time our toilet overflowed just before my father-in-law came to visit for the first time (it’s a great story! full of embarrassing moments!) than to tell you about two Sundays ago when new friends shared lunch with us at the last minute, I’m better at calling out awkward moments than I am at savoring beautiful ones. Maybe you are, too. There’s something about being a human that makes it easier to list our complaints than our blessings, do you know what I mean?

salmon tomatillos

In this life, pain and heartbreak are all around us: One day I’m sobbing because of cutting words; the next day, I’m saying them myself. Our bodies hurt. Work is hard. Relationships are frustrating. So-and-so seems to have it so much better than we do. But these real things, like the real things of fried eggs in skillets and friendly strangers and a hand-written note in the mail, are only partial things. They’re one part of the story, one side of what’s happening and who we are. Right alongside the failed test, the unemployment, the loneliness and the grief are other realities like a kind word, a friend who forgives you, a dinner you share with someone you love.

salmon tacos

I like to focus on the good gifts of travel and house-hunting and a kind husband—not because they are my only realities but because they are the ones I easily overlook. I like to post pretty pictures on Instagram and this blog—not because they show my complete life, but because they counteract the cynical complainer in my head and give more power to the eyes that fight for joy.

at the table with tacos

The truth is, there are so many beautiful moments, all around us, all the time, and I want to push towards seeing them—towards remembering the salmon tacos Tim and I ate a few weeks ago on a Sunday night, just me and him and May’s long daylight.


Salmon Tacos with Tomatillo Guacamole and Red Cabbage

  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x


A spice-rubbed, broiled salmon tacos recipe, along with the killer avocado-tomatillo guacamole that goes in them (and which is worth eating on its own with a big spoon!).



Spice Rubbed Salmon Tacos 

  • 2 pounds of salmon fillets, skin on, center cut, about an inch thick
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon finely ground coffee
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 812 small tortillas, corn or flour – your preference

Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

  • 2 tomatillos, husks removed
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed (unless you want some extra heat) and diced
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 lime, juiced, divided
  • 1 ripe haas avocado

Red Cabbage Mix

  • 5 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • sea salt


For the Salmon

  1. Pat your salmon fillets dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl mix together all of the the seasonings (coffee through black pepper). Then, stir in the olive oil. Use a brush to brush this spice mixture all over the tops of the salmon fillets.
  2. Grill the salmon fillets skin side down on a well oiled hot grill and cook just until it flakes easily with a fork (the timing will depend a lot on your particular cuts of fish, mine took about 8 minutes). Alternatively, you can broil the salmon just until it flakes easily with a fork. Remove from the heat. Use a spatula to lift the salmon pieces off of their skins and onto a serving platter. Break them into chunks.
  3. Quickly warm your tortillas. Then, serve the salmon in the tortillas topped with the avocado salsa and cabbage. If desired you can also add some sour cream and your favorite hot sauce. (It’s easiest to just let everyone assemble their own.) Then, just add some cervezas or margaritas and dinner is complete!

For the Salas and Cabbage

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the tomatillos. Simmer about 3 minutes – they’ll turn sort of olive green. Remove from the water and allow to cool for a little bit. Then, chop them up.
  2. In a food processor, process together the tomatillo, onion, jalapeno, 1 Tbs. cilantro, and half of the lime juice, until fairly smooth. Then, pulse in the avocado – you can process it in until you have a smooth sauce or leave it a little chunky, depending on your preference. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.
  3. Toss together the sliced red cabbage with the remaining lime juice and cilantro. Sprinkle with a little salt (1/4 tsp. or so) and mix well.  Add a drizzle of olive oil, if you wish.
  4. Serve the avocado-tomatillo salsa and the cabbage to accompany the fish in the tacos.

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: salmon, fish tacos, tomatillo, guacamole, red cabbage, healthy

Did you love this recipe as much as we did? If so, let us know your thoughts in the comments below and please rate this recipe!

And if you love tacos, then some of these delightful recipes should tickle your tummy:

Photos by Shanna Mallon, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on June 25th, 2013. Last updated: July 10, 2019 at 13:37 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.

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home,, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

13 thoughts on “Salmon Tacos with Tomatillo Guacamole and Red Cabbage”

  1. Oh, so true. I’m trying to get better and seeing the beauty in life and not get distracted by my grumbles and complaints all of which are, in the grand scheme of things, pretty unimportant. Here’s to beauty!

  2. Love this: “…they counteract the cynical complainer in my head and give more power to the eyes that fight for joy.” Right there with you, friend, with eyes that fight for joy — even when they’re swollen with tears.

  3. Shanna, I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this today. For all the pretty days this summer has brought so far, I’ve spent a lot of them trying to pull myself out of a funk. It seems like everything is a one-two punch these days. Focusing on brighter, joyful things is not to ignore the dark stuff- it helps balance my head out, too. Great post (and +900 for salmon tacos!)

    • I couldn’t agree more, Ruthy. My mind has no trouble remembering the hard stuff — but I have to work at thinking on all the good.

  4. Agreed! the power to focus on the good & the beautiful, instead of the bad & ugly mess, is what keeps us positive, despite having so many other reasons that we could use to complain. I’ve always been a “half-full” girl, and I like to see the the tiny streak of sunlight instead of focusing on the dark, rolling storm clouds. That’s why I’m so attracted to blogs like yours and Not Without Salt.

    Plus, am loving all your taco posts! Never tried fish in tacos, but definitely a great option compared to beef or chicken!


  5. I love this post. Sometimes I feel bad, thinking I’m making life seem better than it is through instagram pictures or facebook albums or what not, but I think the truth is I do this because I am trying to make a point to remember those moments.

    • Me too, Erin. I think there are a lot of people who will try to make you feel bad for sharing happy things, but as long as your heart is just to celebrate the beautiful, keep doing it anyway.

  6. “more power to the eyes that fight for joy”. I love that phrase. Should be a book title. I have really focused more on the beauty in the little things, the ordinary things (the ten on ten is great in that spirit), and it has been a joy. Also an important thing to do as a parent, I think. How could our children appreciate the beauty of subtle things if we don’t?

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