Easy Rockfish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw
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For a quick and easy taco night try these 30 minute rockfish tacos with a lime cabbage and carrot slaw. A blackening spice on quick cooking fish and a simple slaw you can make ahead makes it a perfect quick dinner.
These rockfish tacos have a delicious bright and zesty flavor, and also happen to be super quick cooking. They’re perfect for busy nights, or when this mom just wants a good meal that doesn’t require any more time on my feet than necessary.
They have all the components of a knockout fish taco – perfectly spiced, flaky rockfish, a crunchy and bright coleslaw, fresh cilantro, and crisp tortillas. The best part is that it only takes you 30 minutes to have these bright and bold flavors ready to eat.
What is rockfish?
Rockfish are Pacific ocean fish that are mild, lightly sweet, and flaky. There are tons of types of rockfish, and you may see it sold by many names, like pacific snapper, pacific rockfish, red snapper, or rock cod.
No matter the name, the key is that rockfish cooks quickly and flakes apart beautifully. Making them ideal for these tacos!
Ingredients & Substitutions
There are just a handful of ingredients we use to make these. Fish, simple pantry seasonings, tortillas, and fresh veggies. I’m a fan of topping my rockfish tacos with contrasting textures like a crunchy coleslaw. They’re a go-to for us in the fall and spring when cabbage and carrots are at their best.
- Rockfish – I used 12 ounces to make about 12 6” tacos. If you can’t find rockfish, any firm, flaky white fish will work like black cod, sablefish, or tilapia.
- Fish Seasoning – I like to lightly blacken the filets to add big flavor quickly. A combination of chili powder, garlic powder, salt, cumin, and lime zest. This is not a true blackening seasoning, but you could absolutely use a pre-made blackening blend in if you have it.
- Limes – Both the juice and the zest are key for developing the best flavor. Grab 3-4!
- Carrots – if you can find fresh local ones, I swear they taste better than any supermarket carrot. (Don’t forget to 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 – Shallot is a good alternate if needed.
- Slaw Dressing – I use a very simple combination of garlic, lime juice, cumin, and olive oil to make a light, zingy dressing for the taco slaw.
- Tortillas – I love a crisp corn tortilla with these, but you can simple warm yours, or use flour instead.
Optional Toppings & Garnish Ideas
If you’re making these during summer or simply like a bit of variety, try these alternative toppings and garnishes to style your rockfish tacos in a different way.
- Roast Corn Avocado Pepper Salad
- Chipotle Lime Sauce
- Fresh Avocado slices
Step By Step Instructions
I’m not shy about long leisurely cooks, but this is one of those naturally quick and easy recipes that also happens to pack in big flavor. In 30 minutes you can cook rockfish perfectly, crisp up the tortillas, and make a zingy coleslaw. Boom, homemade dinner done.
STEP ONE – Make the Slaw
Start by slicing the onions and submerging them into cold water while you prep the rest of the slaw. Thinly slice the cabbage and julienne the carrots.
Juice and zest 2 limes. Then finely mince the garlic and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt over the top. Use the edge of your knife to repeatedly crush the minced garlic into a smooth paste.
Combine 4 tablespoons of lime juice with the garlic paste, olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon of cumin. Drain the onions and add to the cabbage and carrots then dress with the lime juice mixture. Taste and add more salt if desired.
STEP TWO – Cook or Prep Tortillas
I love a good crunchy taco with tender fish, but you can absolutely serve yours however you like. To crisp corn tortillas, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.
Slide the tortilla into the hot oil and let it cook for 20-30 seconds. Flip it and quickly fold it in half while it’s still pliable. Use tongs to keep the shell bent but open as you fry one side, then flip and crisp the other side. It takes about 1-2 minutes per shell in very hot oil. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Or, simply heat corn or flour in a dry hot pan or on the grill for 20-30 seconds until warmed.
STEP THREE – Season and Cook the Rockfish
Combine the salt, garlic powder, remaining cumin, chili powder, and lime zest in a bowl and mix. Rub it evenly over each rockfish filet until it has been completely used.
Then place the filets in a preheated pan on medium high heat with one tablespoon of oil. Cook for two minutes per side them remove to a plate. Then flake the fish apart, fill your taco shells and top with a scoop of slaw and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
- Cut instead of grate the carrots. A cheese grater creates carrot slices that are two thin. They tend to disappear and get limp, so I recommend a mandolin or a knife instead.
- Don’t skip soaking the onions. Cold water tames the spice of raw red onion into something more mild and pleasant.
- 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.
Yes, if you can’t find rockfish, swap in a mild, firm and flaky fish like tilapia, cod, or sablefish.
Absolutely. The cabbage and carrot slaw can be prepped 48 hours in advance and kept refrigerated until ready for use.
Fish is always better eaten fresh. However if you have leftovers, simple store the slaw and fish separately in airtight containers in the fridge. Reheat the fish gently to prevent overheating and drying out when you’re ready to eat. Consume within 1-2 days.
We like to serve rockfish tacos with rice or other grains or a scoop of refried or black beans.
This recipe makes 12 6″ tacos, depending on how full you fill each shell. I’d say that feeds 4 depending on sides and appetites! It can also be very easily doubled.
Serve and Enjoy
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!
- Grilled Steaks with Chimichurri
- One Pot Chicken Marsala
- Pork Tenderloin Salad
- Orange Ginger Pork Chops
- Cast Iron Salmon
- Mussels in Cider and Cream
- Lemon Cream Salmon
- Dill Crusted Cod
Love this recipe? Please consider leaving a 5 star rating in the recipe card below, or a comment to share your experience with fellow home cooks. I hope you enjoy and as always, Happy Eating!
- 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
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin divided
- 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup cilantro optional
- 12 6" corn tortillas
- 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 1/4 teaspoon cumin.
- Drain the onions and add to the cabbage and carrots.
- Toss the lime dressing with the cabbage 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, remaining cumin, 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.
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Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.