By Christie Vanover | Published March 4, 2012 | Last Updated December 29, 2022
This fish taco recipe can be made on any type of grill or with a grill pan on the stove.
When I first heard about fish tacos 15 years ago, my immediate reaction was, “a what taco?” I was thinking of opening a Schlotzsky’s franchise, and my cousin in San Diego recommended I open a Rubio’s Fish Taco restaurant instead.
I wasn’t confident that customers in Louisville, Kentucky, were ready for this Baja cuisine in the early 90s. It was nothing like the traditional ground beef crunchy tacos we were used to. Needless to say, I didn’t open up either restaurant.
It was probably 3-5 years later before I was ever able to make it to a Rubio’s to try a fish taco. Boy was a missing out all these years. These were great.
Delicate white fish, mixed with a crunchy sour slaw all wrapped in an earthy corn tortilla.
I only make it to San Diego once every 12-18 months, so I had to learn to prepare these at home. And although you can also make them with fried fish, I like grilling my fish for on my STOK Quattro grill for a healthier dinner.
You can use cod or halibut, or even shrimp, but I like the texture and buttery flavor of sea bass, so that was my poisson du jour. Bon appetit!
What Is Sea Bass
There are many types of fish known as freshwater and saltwater bass. In fact, Britannica reports that there are 475 different species. Striped bass, white bass and black sea bass are all common varieties found in recipes.
Personally, I love to cook with Chilean sea bass, because it’s very mild and buttery flaky fish, but it’s actually not really a sea bass at all.
The species is actually Patagonian toothfish. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. imports around 10,000 tons of Chilean sea bass each year, and it was the Chileans who first marketed the “toothfish” to the U.S., which is how it got its name.
Patagonian toothfish, or Chilean sea bass, whichever you prefer to call it, grows in the deep oceanic waters near Antarctica.
Substitutions: You can make this recipe with any mild white fish. Cod and halibut also work great.
How to grill sea bass
Start by making all of the condiments that go with your fish tacos, so you can pile the warm freshly grilled meat right inside the tortillas when it’s time to build your tacos.
- STEP ONE: In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, juice of one lime, apple cider vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt and cumin to taste.
- STEP TWO: To make the cabbage slaw, shred the cabbage and place it in a medium bowl. Toss in the dressing. Cut the jalapeño into strips, removing the stem and seeds. Add that to the bowl.
PRO TIP: If you buy a whole green cabbage, wash it and remove the outer leaves. Then, either use a sharp chef’s knife to thinly slice it, or shred it with a box grater or food processor. You can also use pre-shredded cabbage.
- STEP THREE: Pat the sea bass with a paper towel, removing as much moisture as possible. Season both sides with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. The olive oil will prevent the fish from sticking to the grill.
- STEP FOUR: Heat your charcoal grill, gas grill or pellet grill to high or 400F degrees. Place the fish on the grill skin side down. Don’t move it. It needs to sear so it doesn’t stick. Allow it to cook for 4-5 minutes.
PRO TIP: To keep the fish from sticking to the grill, drizzle olive oil or canola oil on a paper towel. Using a pair of tongs, wipe the oil-covered paper towel across the grill grates.
- STEP FIVE: Flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove the fish from the grill and slice into ½-inch strips.
How to serve sea bass tacos
Warm tortillas on the grill. Then, place a strip of grilled sea bass on each tortilla. Top with the cabbage slaw and fresh tomatoes. Fold into a taco and serve.
For an added pop of flavor, serve with fresh lime wedges and hot sauce. Your diners can add a squeeze of fresh lime juice or a couple dashes of hot sauce to their liking.
If you have leftovers, it’s best to save the ingredients separately. The cabbage can be saved for 1-2 days. If you save it too much longer, it will start to get liquidy. The grilled fish can be saved in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Fish tacos do not freeze well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Grilled fish tacos are definitely healthier than fried fish tacos. The grilled fish by itself is healthy dinner, but when you add the slaw and tortillas, you do start to add fat and calories, so they’re best eaten in moderation.
The cool thing about tacos is that you can stack them with whatever toppings you like. This recipe includes a lime crema slaw and diced tomatoes, but you can also add your favorite salsa, guacamole or hot sauce. Diced red onion and green onions are also a nice touch.
A lot of restaurants use cod or tilapia, because they’re both less expensive mild white fish. For the best flavor, I like using sea bass, halibut or mahi mahi, but they do cost more.
Sea bass is a flaky white fish. When white fish cooks, it will start to flake apart. That’s how you’ll know it’s ready. You can also test it with an instant read thermometer. The USDA recommends cooking fish to an internal temperature of 145F degrees.
What to serve with grilled fish tacos
More seafood recipes
Looking for even more grilling recipes, visit my other website girlscangrill.com
Grilled Chilean Sea Bass Fish Tacos
Lime Crema Cabbage Slaw
- 8 ozs sour cream
- 1 lime juiced
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 5 cups fresh cabbage shredded (or one bag)
- ½ fresh jalapeno julienned (optional)
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 1 ½ lbs fresh Chilean Sea Bass
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 6 corn tortillas
- Make Slaw: In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, juice of one lime, apple cider vinegar, sugar, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon ground cumin. Place the cabbage in a medium bowl and stir in the dressing. Add in the strips of jalapeño, if you like a little heat.
- Season: Season both sides of the sea bass with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
- Grill: Heat your grill to high. Rub the grates with oil (see notes). Place the fish on the grill skin side down. Do not move it. It needs to sear so it doesn’t stick. Allow it to cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove the fish from the grill and slice into ½-inch strips.
- Build Tacos: Place a strip of bass onto a corn tortilla. Top with the cabbage slaw and fresh tomatoes.
This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator
I grew up in San Diego. One of the greatest treats of visiting places in Baja was visiting fish taco stands in Ensenada. This recipe almost eclipses the fish tacos served in Ensenada. The sour cream is the kicker.
Dee Kitchen says
Made these for dinner last night! First time cooking with Chilean Sea Bass – what a perfect taco fish! We added onions, cotija and cilantro and they were easily as good as anything you’d get from a shack on the beach. Mm’ mm!
Great! Thanks for sharing.
Good morning, I featured this recipe on my blog today, it looks great! Thanks for allowing me to share. Here is the link http://carriesexperimentalkitchen.blogspot.com/2012/03/week-12-seafood-frenzy-friday.html
wok with ray says
Those fish were beautifully charred. Tacos look delicious and fresh.
Oh goodness this recipe looks amazing! I LOVE fish tacos! Can’t wait to try this for myself… I pinterested this recipe 🙂