Rockfish Tacos

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Rockfish tacos are a fast, easy meal perfect for a lighter, bright flavor on taco night. A simple cabbage carrot slaw and zest lime juice make them ideal to enjoy from fall through spring.

crisp shelled rockfish taco and a cabbage carrot slaw

Like so many during the pandemic, my family and I started getting our groceries in a different way. Some we quit as soon as I felt comfortable getting back to the farmers market, but others, like our Wild Alaskan Seafood box, have stuck around. 

If you haven’t heard of them (no they’re not sponsoring this, but you can check them out here if you want to), they deliver sustainable, high quality wild seafood to your door. When faced with farmed, unknown sourced options at the grocery store, this is a no brainer. They care about the environment, and that’s a pro for me. 

We get a variety of fish in every box and it’s become a new challenge to use some unknown types in creative ways. Take the rockfish for example. I’d never heard of it, but I basically now think of it as a tilapia type fish I’m actually happy to eat. 

These rockfish tacos are super quick cooking, delicious, with bright and zesty flavors that we enjoy in the fall and spring when the slaw ingredients are at their best.

What is rockfish?

Rockfish are sold by many names, like pacific snapper, pacific rockfish, red snapper, or rock cod. They’re a delicate, flaky fish with a mild, sweet flavor. 

There are dozens and dozens of fish that are classified as rockfish, but they all cook quickly and flake apart beautifully. Making them ideal for these tacos!

Ingredients & Substitutions

I want you to love these tacos as much as we did, but I always encourage home cooks to make things their own. Below you’ll find the ingredients I used, and tips for making these perfect.

ingredients to make rockfish tacos
  • Rockfish – I used 12 ounces to make about 12 6” tacos.
  • Chili powder – I used a mildly spicy blend, use one you like, or combine paprika and cumin to make it milder.
  • Limes – You’ll need two to make my portions, but I recommend extra for serving. You’ll use both the zest and the juice.
  • Garlic powder – I love garlic, which is why you’ll find it in the fish rub and the slaw.
  • Salt – don’t skip the salt! I always use coarse kosher salt. 
  • Carrots – if you can find fresh local ones, I swear they taste better than any supermarket carrot. Use the greens to make a carrot top pesto or a vibrant chimichurri for another meal.
  • Cabbage – I used purple cabbage because we prefer it. But use green if you like, or swap in a broccoli slaw mix.
  • Red onion – This is the only onion I ever eat raw, and it’s really good in the slaw.
  • Cumin – I love this flavor with the limes, it’s pretty hard to replace but ground coriander would also be tasty. 
  • Garlic cloves – Raw garlic cloves do add a mild spice to the slaw. It’s subtle but if raw garlic bugs you, saute it for 30 seconds in a bit of oil to tame it.
  • Olive oil – You can also use any cooking oil you have.
  • Tortillas – I love a crisp corn tortilla with these, but you can simple warm yours, or use flour if that’s more your style.

A note on garnish: Depending on the time of year, if I can get a bundle of cilantro at the farmer’s market, I add a generous amount to the slaw or as a garnish. If you like cilantro, I recommend it, but they’re still really tasty without it.

Tips for Cooking Rockfish Tacos

Before you jump into cooking your rockfish tacos, I want to share my best tips for getting this as perfect as it was in my kitchen. You’ll find detailed step by step instructions in the recipe card below.

making the slaw and pan searing the rockfish while crisping tacos
  • Soak the onions – before you do anything else, slice the red onion into strips and submerge it into cold water. Give it at least 15 minutes and that overwhelming sharpness of raw onion will be tamed to a mild, pleasant bite. 
  • Taste the slaw, then taste it again – I like to mix it all up and let it sit for five minutes, then stir and taste again before adding more salt or lime. The flavors will get a bit stronger over time. 
  • Smash the garlic with the salt – I love this technique. I use it in my garlic bread rolls too, because when you chop garlic with salt it turns it into almost a paste that enhances the flavor. It blends into the slaw so much better. 
  • Don’t overcook the fish – Rockfish will cook in just 2 minutes per side over medium high heat. It’ll get dry when overcooked, so as soon as those babies flake, pull them from the pan.
two rockfish tacos on a plate

Serve and Enjoy

We devoured these rockfish tacos, they’re seriously so good. Like most fish dishes, they’re best fresh. I often cut this recipe in half for just my husband and I, but as my kiddo is growing, I’m getting tired of sharing all my tacos! You can double it to feed a crowd easily.

The recipe will make 12 tacos if made on 6” tortillas. If you have any extra slaw leftover, store it in the fridge. Then serve it up on a tuna salad sandwich for lunch, or even with some mojo pork. You’ll thank me!

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did, and if you’re in need of some other quick dinner recipes, be sure to check some others on the blog before you go. Happy Eating!

rockfish tacos on a white plate

Rockfish Tacos

Print Recipe
Crispy shelled rockfish tacos with a lime cabbage carrot slaw
Prep Time:20 mins
Cook Time:10 mins
Total Time:30 mins

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces rockfish filets
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • 2 medium limes*
  • 1/2 cup carrots, thickly shredded
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup cilantro optional
  • 12 6" corn tortillas

Instructions

  • Slice the red onion into thin strips and submerge them in cold water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Slice the cabbage and shred carrots into a large bowl. Zest and juice both the limes.
  • Mince the garlic with 1/4 teaspoon of salt then use the edge of your knife to scrape it into a paste.
  • Combine the garlic paste with 4 tablespoons of lime juice with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and cumin. Toss to mix, then let sit for 5 minutes. Taste after that then add a pinch of salt or more lime juice if needed.
  • Season the rockfish with chili powder, salt, lime zest, and garlic powder.
  • Crisp the corn tortillas in 3 tablespoons of oil and set to drain over paper towels.
  • Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil.
  • Sear the rockfish filets for 2 minutes per side, then remove to a plate.
  • Assemble tacos with fish, then slaw, and cilantro if desired. Squeeze over more lime juice and enjoy.

Notes

*I highly recommend an extra lime sliced into wedges for drizzling over the finished tacos

Nutrition

Serving: 26″ tacos | Calories: 467kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 68g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 170mg | Sodium: 2113mg | Potassium: 2093mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 12944IU | Vitamin C: 101mg | Calcium: 200mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dinner, fish, main dish, tacos
Calories: 467kcal
Author: Mikayla M

Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.

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