Asian Tacos with Napa Cabbage Slaw
At the risk of sounding like a cliché millennial: I love tacos. When there is a protein, spicy sauce, and cheese involved what is not to love?
We did not eat much Mexican or Latin American food in growing up except for the occasional ground beef tacos in a hard corn shell (which I still loved). They both grew up in the Northeast so I think were not exposed to the range of delicious Mexican food you can find all over the country today.
So in adulthood I am making up for lost time. I make tacos almost once per week. Sometimes we make vegetarian tacos with black beans and lots of fixings or with leftover chicken. Tacos are also an easy way to ease into cooking fish. I find that it is harder to mess up small pieces of fish for a taco than it is to make whole fillets.
One of my favorite taco toppings is lime-cabbage slaw. It adds a great crunch to the sometimes soft other parts, a hint of acidity, and tricks me into thinking I am eating vegetables for dinner. So when I saw the Napa cabbage in our CSA box, I knew fish tacos were a must.
The result was these Asian fish tacos. Tilapia is coated in breadcrumbs and baked for a crispy coating. Cabbage is tossed with sesame oil, lime juice, cilantro, and scallions to make a really flavorful slaw. And sriracha crema adds a spicy creamy zing to the mix.
First, we make the slaw so it has time to sit and marinate a little bit.
Next, we slice the tilapia into pieces and set up a breading station.
Fish is baked for 12 to 15 minutes until crispy and cooked through. Turn the fish halfway through to get an even bake.
Crema is mixed together and tacos are assembled. First a smear of cream, then two pieces of fish, and top with cabbage slaw and any other toppings. We added some quick pickled jalapeños but they were still pretty spicy!
Asian Fish Tacos
- 3 cups napa cabbage shredded
- ¾ tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/3 cup cilantro roughly chopped
- 1 scallion thinly sliced
- salt to taste
- 1 lbs tilapia
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 egg beaten
- ½ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
- ¾ inch ginger minced or grated
- ½ lime juiced
- 1 tbsp sriracha
Additional Taco Fixings, Optional
- 6 small flour tortillas
- pickled jalapeño
- red onion
I start the slaw first so it has time for the flavors to marry and the cabbage to slightly tenderize. Thinly slice or shred the cabbage and scallions. Roughly chop the cilantro and add all three to a bowl medium sized. Add the Lime juice, sesame oil, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and let sit while you prepare the rest of the tacos.
Next, prepare the fish. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
Slice the tilapia into 1 inch wide strips. Combine breadcrumbs, paprika, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl. Beat the egg in another small bowl. Set up a breading station so you have the breadcrumb mixture, egg, and cookie sheet in a line.
Dip a piece of fish into the egg mixture so that it is fully submerged, then shake off any excess egg. Next, roll the fish in the breadcrumbs so they are fully coated. Place on the cookie sheet and repeat with the rest of the fish pieces.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping the pieces after 6 minutes. The fish should be crispy and cooked through.
While the fish is baking, mix the crema. Mince or grate the ginger. I always grate my ginger on a cheese grater, because it is faster. Combine the crema, ginger, lime juice, and sriracha in a small bowl. Stir well so it is all combined.
Heat the tortillas over a gas burner, in a skillet, or in a steamer. Will has convinced me to start warming our tortillas in the steaming basket of our rice cooker. It does a good job of making them pliable but then we don’t get the char from the gas burner. So it depends on your preferences!
To create the tacos, spread a spoonful of crema on the tortilla, followed by two pieces of fish, and the cabbage slaw on top. Add any additional garnishes such as pickled jalapeño, red onions, or more scallions and cilantro.
We made a quick pickled jalapeño by putting a few slices of jalapeño in a bowl with juice of one lime and salt. They were still pretty spicy though!