One of our family’s favorite quick weeknight meals is grilled fish tacos. Prep (including taco toppings) takes only about ten minutes, and it is grilled and ready to serve in only about ten to fifteen more. I can usually get tilapia fillets quite cheaply at the fish counter at our grocery store, but if not, another thin whitefish filet (sole, swai, flounder, perch, roughy, redfish) will do. The pictures below were fairly large tilapia fillets, but I usually get the smaller ones that cook even more quickly.
Usually I simply shake some sort of Mexican or Southwest seasoning (Cholula, or Emeril’s or my current favorite Mesquite Garlic seasoning) on both sides of the fish, place it on a greased/oiled/non-stick piece of aluminum foil (without the foil, the meat will fall apart and through the grates on the grill), and put it on a gas grill over medium heat. I then punch holes in the aluminum foil all around the fish to let the heat and smoke (see below) circulate around the filet. If you close the lid on the grill, it will cook through in only about 10-15 minutes. Don’t try to flip it over, because it isn’t necessary. It is done when it is all white, and it flakes when you bend or pull the meat.
I like to add a little extra flavor by using a cast iron smoker box and some mesquite wood chips directly on the gas burner, but it isn’t necessary. I put the chips and a little bit of water in the box when I pre-heat the grill, and as soon as it starts smoking, I put the fish in foil on the grill. You can also do it with an aluminum foil pocket if you don’t have a smoker box, by putting moist chips in the pocket and poking some holes in the pocket before putting it on the burner.
For toppings, you can chop up some cabbage, onions, tomato, cilantro and lime (to squeeze), and have some fresh salsa on hand if you wish. Obviously you can do as many or as few of the toppings as you wish. We usually serve it with a simple can of black beans (but really like the Ranch Pinto Beans with Jalapeno), or with our corn and black bean salad. Throw some corn tortillas on the stove burner and you have a relatively complete dinner!
- 1 pound tilapia fillets (or just eyeball how many tacos worth of meat you want)
- 8 corn tortillas (I usually make extra, to account for ripped or burnt tortillas)
- Southwest or Mexican Seasoning or other seasoned salt, to taste
- ½ Head cabbage, chopped
- ½ Sweet onion, diced
- ½ Cup cilantro, diced
- 1 large tomato, diced (or 2-3 Romas)
- Fresh salsa (optional, but I use it if we don’t do tomatoes)
- Pre-heat gas grill.
- Place smoker box or foil packet of moist mesquite chips on burner (optional)
- Shake seasoning on both sides of fillets.
- Place filets on non-stick aluminum foil or spray/wipe foil with cooking oil.
- Put fillets and foil on grill, poke holes in foil all around fillets.
- Cover grill–cook for 8-15 minutes, as necessary to cook the fillets all the way through.
- While grill is pre-heating, start chopping and dicing cabbage, onion, tomatoes, and cilantro. Continue while cooking fish, if necessary.
- When fish is nearly done, heat tortillas on stove over medium heat, 30-60 seconds each. Place in aluminum foil to keep warm.
- Take fish off grill, cut into taco-sized pieces (or small enough for multiple pieces per taco) and set up toppings and tortillas to make an assembly line.
- Assemble tacos and eat!