One of the best things about tacos — and a reason I suspect they have become as beloved in America as pizza — is that they are a blank canvas, easily adapted and made your own.
Tortillas seem to invite you to play with all kinds of filling combinations. This recipe tacks toward a new California style that puts an Asian spin on the classic Baja fish taco. Here, the Asian flavor comes by way of the slaw, made with Napa cabbage, carrot and daikon radish. Its dressing has a gentle rice-vinegar pucker and gets a rich, savory splash of toasted sesame oil.
The slaw adds bold flavor to the simply seasoned fish, which is grilled rather than fried, taking the taco in a lighter, more healthful direction. (Any white fish that is firm enough to grill will work here, such as tilapia, halibut or mahi.) Piling everything on soft, whole-grain tortillas and mashing avocado to make a creamy spread (which is spiked with Sriracha for more Asian flair), instead of the typical mayonnaise-based sauce, also makes these tasty tacos that much better for you.
Topped with a crunchy kick of sliced jalapeno and a fresh sprinkle of cilantro leaves, it’s a meal that will make you realize why, like Pizza Fridays, tacos have earned their place with their own dedicated night of the week. But don’t wait until Taco Tuesday to make these — they’re good any day of the week.
Fish tacos with Asian slaw
1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons canola, or other neutral-tasting, high-heat oil
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon honey
2 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
½ cup peeled, shredded carrot (use the large-holed side of a box grater)
¼ cup peeled, shredded daikon radish (use the large-holed side of a box grater)
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
1 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Sriracha
¼ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon salt
1 pound firm, skinned white fish fillets, such as tilapia, mahi-mahi or halibut
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Eight small (6-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
1 jalapeno chili pepper, thinly sliced into rounds
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
Whisk 1 tablespoon of the canola oil, the vinegar, toasted sesame oil and honey in a medium bowl. Add the cabbage, carrot, radish and onion, tossing to coat evenly.
Peel and pit the avocado. Mash the flesh in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice and the Sriracha and ⅛ teaspoon salt, then stir until smooth.
Brush the fish on both sides with the remaining 1½ teaspoons of the canola oil, then season it with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Cook the fish in a grill pan or on a grill over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until grill marks have formed and it flakes easily with a fork.
Transfer the fish to a plate and drizzle it with the remaining tablespoon of lime juice. Use a fork to break the fish into chunks. Warm the tortillas in the grill pan or on the grill for 30 seconds per side.
To assemble, spread some of the avocado mixture onto a tortilla; top that with fish, then slaw, jalapeno slices and cilantro leaves.
Serve right away.
Makes 4 servings. Nutrition per serving (using tilapia): 490 calories, 32 grams protein, 52 grams carbohydrates, 21 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 55 milligrams cholesterol, 520 milligrams sodium, 11 grams dietary fiber, 3 grams sugar.
Ellie Krieger is a writer for The Washington Post.