Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fish Taco Salad

For Chicagoans emerging from an extended winter/cool spring, summer means street food and outdoor dining.  All the sidewalks are crowded as restaurants creatively squeeze a chair on every square inch of outdoor space.  Each weekend there are at least two street festivals that offers sticky and/or drippy finger foods for every palate.  Don't believe me?  Check out this Chicago Festival Guide.

Ironically, my summer of outdoor eating was kicked off in a little town east of Chicago, known as New York.  They may not have a proper hotdog, but New Yorkers know their street food.  I really wish Chicago had more of their halal carts (but not their pizza...I'll stick with deep dish, thanks).  

I was in New York for Bree's bachelorette weekend and we took full advantage of the perfect weather in order to picnic in Central Park, stop for snacks on the High Line, and do lunch at Smorgasburg across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Smorgasburg is more or less a permanent, more intimate Taste of Chicago, but with better cuisine (and an awesome carousel full of young children, their parents, and a bunch of girls having fun on a bachelorette weekend).  In fact, you can check me out at Smorgasburg on the wonderful blog written by the lovely Lydia called "Today's the Day I..." So, I highly recommend a visit if you find yourself in NYC. 
Our various NYC street eats

It worked out perfectly that I made a version of this fish taco salad last week and wanted to improve it for a post, since it goes nicely with the street food theme.  Basically imagine all the traditional condiments on a tilapia fish taco, but without the tortilla and some mango salsa for kicks.   It got two thumbs up from Bree's financé, Brad, who didn't eat seafood until he tried the cilantro ginger shrimp I made last week!  It may seem like lots of ingredients, but it actually comes together pretty quickly once everything is chopped.  Overall, its a really great healthy but hearty summer salad that you should go make as soon as is humanly possible.

Ingredients for Salad (makes four large servings):
  • 2 bags of pre-shredded cole slaw mix (or you can shred your own to get about four cups)
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • juice of half a lime
  • salt to taste
Ingredients for Tilapia:
  • 4 tilapia filets
  • 1/2 tbsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. mexican chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
Ingredients for Mango Salsa:
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • juice of half a lime
  • salt to taste
 Ingredients for Dressing:
  • 3/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. dill
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
It might be easiest to begin this recipe by dicing and chopping the fresh produce: avocado, cherry tomatoes, yellow onion, cilantro (1.5 cups total), mango, jalapeno, and red onion.
In a small bowl, mix the spices for the tilapia (cumin, coriander, chili powder, cayenne, garlic, salt, and pepper).  Toss the filets in a plastic bag with the spices to coat evenly.  

Heat a frying pan with 1 tbsp. of olive oil over high heat, and sear each side of the tilapia filets for about 3-4 minutes.  Don't worry if your filets break apart or stick a bit, you'll break them up for the salad, anyways.  Remove and set aside to cool a bit, squeezing some extra lime or lemon juice on top.
While the tilapia is either cooking or cooling, its time to make the various salsas and accoutrements.  Combine the ingredients for the mango salsa in one bowl, and the ingredients for the dressing in another.  In a third bowl, combine the diced yellow onion, remaining cilantro, citrus juices, and salt to taste.
Finally, in a large bowl toss the cabbage, tomatoes, avocado, and some of the cilantro-onion salsa.   Season with salt.  You can either dress this mixture with some of the greek yogurt dressing (to create a slaw-like base), or save the dressing to dollop on top of the fish. 

To serve, break up a filet and lay on top of the cabbage mix.  Top with a dollop of dressing and some mango salsa.


  1. My hand is famous! This looks gorgeous, as usual :)

  2. I like fish salad with little bit rice as my takeaway menu. These salads are high with food value and can give us the best proteins supplements also. This recipe seems to me a different one also. I have shared this with my wife and told her to make this at home. http://freakinfood.com/