Fish tacos with cilantro slaw

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Fish tacos with cilantro slaw

Recently I learned some more about the different basic tastes and paying attention to them when cooking. There are the usual four basics — salt, sweet, bitter, and sour. 

Chefs add to that pepper and umami (I don’t really get this yet — good thing I don’t cook in a restaurant). You are supposed to have a least three different basic tastes to make a dish delicious. 

I played around with a little salt, sugar, lime juice, rice vinegar, and pepper at a time tasting after each addition while making these tacos, and was very happy during dinner. 

Don’t know about the umami.

Servings: 6


For the cilantro slaw:

  • 1/2 head cabbage, either green or red, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper or some carrots, thin julienne
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice 
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • A little fresh lime juice

For the fish tacos:

  • 1 pound halibut fillets
  • About 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • Whole wheat flour or stone-ground corn 8-inch tortillas


  1. Mix all the slaw ingredients in a large bowl and let sit for 15 minutes. 
  2. Season the fish fillet with a little salt and pepper. Liberally coat the first side with ancho chili powder. 
  3. Heat the canola oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Sprinkle some salt and pepper from a height in the hot oil also. This really helps keep the fish from sticking. 
  4. Cook the fillet ancho side down. Sprinkle the top with the remaining ancho chili. Fish takes about 10 minutes per inch of thickness to cook no matter how you do it. So guess what half the total cooking time should be for one side and don’t try to turn the fillet before then. 
  5. Heat the tortillas. Flake the cooked fish and place it on the tortillas. Top with the slaw. Enjoy.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 213
  • Fat: 7 gm
  • Saturated fat: 1 gm
  • Trans fat: 0 gm
  • Cholesterol: 24 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 19 gm
  • Fiber: 4 gm
  • Sodium: 155 mg
  • Protein: 18 gm