Taco making doesn’t need to be overly complicated or time-consuming. Like these easy tilapia fish tacos with mango and slaw. Pan-fried tilapia is cooked to crispy perfection in 10 minutes and topped with mango salsa, cabbage slaw, and creamy chipotle sauce—fast and simple taco fixings that provide the all-important crunch, heat, acid, and sweetness needed to build the MOST delicious fish tacos.
Before we jump in any further, know that this recipe for easy tilapia fish tacos with mango and slaw comes from a taco-obsessed household. Veggie tacos, with roasted cauliflower or sweet potato — yes. Shredded chicken, grilled shrimp. Yup. We are down with pretty much anything you can stick in a warmed up corn tortilla, so long as they’re served with lime wedges and some kind of creamy sauce.
Now that you’re up to speed on my family’s level of taco-affection, let me go on record to say that nothing beats crispy pan-fried tilapia fish tacos. Nada.
About these fish tacos.
Tilapia is my go-to white fish. It’s a firm fish that holds together well when cooking and lends itself to all sorts of seasoning, plus it crisps and blackens so nicely. It’s also quick to fry. Needing only 4-5 minutes per side, u
Tips for frying fish, so that it doesn’t stick to the pan:
- To start, make sure to remove excess moisture from your fish filets. Pat them down thoroughly with paper towels before adding the spice rub. This will curb sticking and ensure a crispy fish crust.
- Pre-heat the pan, dry, for a good 3-5 minutes, over medium heat. Flick in a few drops of water — if it sizzles, pops and evaporates, the pan is ready for the oil.
- Heat the oil. Like with the pan, you’ll want to heat the oil until it’s good and hot (but not smoking!), before adding the fish. This takes roughly a minute, so stay close by. And, be sure to use enough oil–the bottom of the pan should be generously coated.
- Use the right oil. For frying on fairly high heat, use an oil with a high smoke point….like canola or vegetable. Some oils, like extra-virgin olive oil, have very low smoke points and ruin quickly, resulting in a more acrid taste. I’ve used vegetable oil here.
- Leave them be! Place the filets into the pan and give them a few minutes to darken and really crisp up before flipping them over. Avoid the urge to move them around.
The first picture above shows the filets all dressed up in seasoning, a mixture of cumin, chili powder, cayenne, onion powder, kosher salt, and flour, which is gently rubbed into the fish until all sides are well coated.
Once the fish is cooked and crispy (second pic) break into smallish chunks for taco building.
On to the toppings…
With the subtle heat of the fish seasoning, the vinegary, crunchy slaw, and the creamy chipotle sauce, the addition of bright mango salsa is PERFECTION.
This mango salsa needs only four fresh, simple ingredients: ripe mango, chopped cilantro, red onion and lime (plus a good pinch of salt).
How to easily peel and cut a mango:
- Peel first, with a peeler. Much simpler to use than a paring knife, and you’ll save more of that coveted mango flesh.
- Slice lengthwise, along the tallest line of the mango, right along the large flat side of the pit. Get as close to that pit as possible. Do the same for the other flat side, then slice along the narrow edges of the pit.
- From here you can easily chop into small cubes for the salsa.
This very short video demonstrates the mango cutting technique.
A little crunchy slaw and creamy chipotle sauce and these easy tilapia fish tacos are ready to be enjoyed.
P.S. More taco inspiration? T