These vibrant, flavorful fish tacos include flaky white fish cooked in a delicious red-chili-based Mexican adobo sauce and topped with citrus fruit, salsa verde, and crispy fried onions. Every bite is a riot of flavors in the best possible way.
Here's what we've got going on here:
- White fish marinated and baked in Mexican adobo that gives it a complex, smokey, red chili flavor. SO good!
- The adobo fish is piled into warm corn tortillas and topped with slices of citrus fruit, salsa verde, and crispy fried onions.
The result of all these layers of flavor piled up in a soft corn tortilla is actual taco heaven. Yes, it does exist and this is where you'll find it.
Mexican adobo is a rich, thick red chili sauce flavored with garlic, cumin, oregano, and thyme. It's smokey, spicy flavor makes a fantastic marinade for white fish, which is a kind of blank canvas for any kind of flavor profile you're in the mood for.
As I am always in the mood for chilies, adobo fish tacos are my jam. Luckily, these tacos are also very easy to make.
- Marinate and bake some white fish in Mexican adobo
- Fry slices of red onion until crispy
- Pile a few pieces of adobo fish into warm corn tortillas and top it with slices of citrus fruit, salsa verde, and crispy onions.
The combination of red chili, citrus, salsa verde and fried onions is truly incredible and something I think you'll find yourself craving on the regular.
Ingredients Needed to Prepare this Recipe
- Mexican Adobo. Preferably, homemade Mexican adobo, which is super easy to prepare and much better than most anything you'll find in a jar. The other advantage to making Mexican Adobo is that you can control the level of spice, heat, and salt in the sauce. Having said that, there are several good brands of prepared adobo that you can use instead. My favorite brand is La Costeña Adobo Paste, which can be found in many supermarkets or ordered online.
- Lean and flaky white fish. Good options include halibut, tilapia, mahi mahi, snapper, cod, or bass.
- Vegetable, canola, or extra virgin olive oil. Oil is used in this recipe to fry the onions and soften the corn tortillas.
- Red onions. Crispy strips of fried red onions add a delicious salty crunch that's the perfect compliment to the chili and citrus flavors in these tacos.
- Salsa verde. Use your favorite prepared salsa verde (I love Herdez) or make a batch of homemade salsa verde.
- Orange and/or grapefruit slices. Use one or the other, or a combination of the two. If you're at all skeptical about this, please trust me. Citrus and chili are a match made in heaven.
- Corn tortillas.
- A couple of fresh limes and some chopped fresh cilantro.
*See the recipe card below for precise quantities of these ingredients.
How to Make Adobo Fish Tacos
Step #1: Marinate the fish in adobo.
The fish for these tacos is marinated and baked inside a parchment paper packet. Lay a large sheet of parchment paper on the countertop and put the fish in the center. Rub adobo all over the fish coating it completely. Put a second piece of paper over the fish and roll and crimp the ends to seal.
Let the fish marinate for at least 2 hours, and up to 8 hours.
Step #2: While the fish marinates, make the crispy onions.
Slice a few red onions into thin, ¼-inch pieces and add them to a skillet with some oil. Cook the onions until they are a rich golden brown and crispy.
Set the crispy fried onions on a plate that you've lined with a couple pieces of paper towel to soak up excess oil.
Step #3: Bake the fish.
Set the parchment packet on a baking sheet or a baking dish and bake it at 400° for about 10 minutes.
To know when the fish is done, stick an instant read thermometer in the thickest part of one of the pieces; it should register 40-145°. You can also poke a fork into the fish and gently twist. If the fish is flakey and opaque, it is done.
Step #4: Prepare the tortillas.
Heat up the leftover oil that's in the skillet from frying onions.
Use metal tongs to lower the tortillas, one at a time, into the hot oil, letting them cook for about 2 seconds on each side. Stack them on a paper towel lined plate, with paper towels in-between each tortilla to soak up the excess oil.
Step #5: Prepare the tacos.
Squeeze some fresh lime juice over the adobo fish and sprinkle it with some fresh cilantro.
Fill tortillas with a few chunks of fish.
Spoon some salsa verde over the fish.
Add a few orange and/or grapefruit segments.
Top the tacos with crispy fried onions.
Substitutions and Variations
Adobo Fish tacos follows a basic concept of chili + citrus + salty + crispy that's easily transferable to many kinds of tacos. And honesty, you could smear adobo on pretty much anything and it will taste delicious.
So, if you'd rather use chicken than fish, go for it. Follow the same method, creating a parchment packet, marinating the chicken in adobo, and baking it at 400° F. Chicken will take longer to cook; make sure to cook until the chicken registers at 165° F.
Other variations for adobo fish tacos:
- Use grilled pineapple instead of citrus slices
- Swap out the corn tortillas for flour tortillas - especially delicious when the flour tortillas are made from this homemade all butter recipe
- Make them vegan/ vegetarian by swapping out the fish for tofu: Cut tofu into cubes and toss with 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes, or until crispy. Heat adobo in a saucepan and add the crispy tofu. Toss to coat.
What to Serve with Adobo Fish Tacos
My favorite thing to serve with adobo fish tacos is Jicama Salad with Apples and Honey Lime Dressing. The salad is light, crisp, tart, and refreshing, and all the flavors are the perfect compliment to the rich smokiness of Mexican Adobo.
Two other delicious salad option that pairs well with adobo fish tacos are
- Light Cabbage Slaw: This salad is quick to make and the perfect accompaniment to seafood dishes, like Beer Battered Fish and Chips and adobo fish tacos.
- Israeli Salad: A delicious, fresh mix of vegetables and herbs that pairs well with practically everything.
And don't forget the margaritas! I'm eager for any excuse to serve margaritas with dinner and tacos is a no brainer. My favorite margarita recipes to serve with adobo fish tacos are:
- Pomegranate Margaritas. I like to call these the little black dress of cocktail hour because I've made these for more dinner parties and get togethers than any other drink.
- Grapefruit Margaritas with Jalapeño and Lime. The balance of fresh, tart, sweet, and salty, with a mild jalapeño kick is a perfect match to smokey adobo sauce. These are especially appropriate if you're using grapefruit slices in your tacos.
- Freshly Squeezed Orange Margaritas. While many margarita include a splash of orange liquor, this recipe also includes some freshly squeezed orange juice. And, of course, if you're serving your adobo fish tacos with orange slices, these margaritas are the perfect match.
- 1 recipe (about 1 cup/ 8 ounces) homemade Mexican Adobo(*see note below for prepared adobo options)
- 2 pounds lean and flaky white fish; halibut, tilapia, mahi mahi, snapper, cod, or bass
- ¼ cup vegetable, canola, or extra virgin olive oil
- 3 medium red onions (3 cups thinly sliced onions)
- 1 cup salsa verde, prepared or homemade
- 2 cups orange and/or grapefruit slices, peel and pith removed and separated into segments (*see note)
- 8 corn tortillas
- 2 limes, cut in half
- about 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Marinate the fish in adobo: Lay a large sheet (about 16 inches in length) of parchment paper on the countertop. Arrange the fish in the center of the parchment and rub it on all sides with adobo. Lay a smaller piece of parchment over the fish - a piece long enough to cover the fish and extend past the fish by about 3 inches on all sides. Roll the sides of the parchment up, pressing and creasing the parchment as you do, to create a parchment packet in which the fish are sealed inside. Set the parchment packet on a plate or in a baking dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.
- While the fish marinates, make the crispy onions: Peel the onions and cut them in half. Cut each half into thin ¼-inch slices and add the slices to a large skillet along with ¼ cup oil. Set the skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are a dark golden brown and crispy. Remove the onions to a plate that's been lined with paper towels and set aside. Reserve the oil in the skillet.
- Bake the fish: Heat the oven to 400° F (204° C). Place the parchment packet on a baking sheet (or baking dish) and bake for 10-12 minutes, until an instant thermometer inserted into the thickest piece registers 140-145° F (60-63° C). To know when the fish is done without using a thermometer, stick a fork into the thickest part of one of the pieces and twist gently. If the fish flakes easily and is opaque, it is done.
- Prepare the tortillas: Place the skillet with the leftover oil (from frying the onions) over high heat. When the oil is at least 360 degrees, use metal tongs to set one corn tortilla in the hot oil. Let it cook on one side for 2 seconds, then on the other side for 2 seconds, then remove it to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, stacking sheets of paper towel in between each tortilla.
- Serve the tacos: Squeeze a bit of lime juice over the fish and sprinkle with cilantro. Build the tacos by placing a few pieces of fish into a corn tortilla, adding a few slices of orange or grapefruit and a spoonful of salsa. Top with fried onion.
Can you use prepared Adobo in this recipe?
Yes, of course. Making Mexican adobo sauce is surprisingly quick and easy and, I think, produces a much better tasting sauce than anything you'll get from a jar. Having said that, there are several good brands of prepared adobo that you can use instead. My favorite brand is La Costeña Adobo Paste, which can be found in many supermarkets or ordered online.
What kind of citrus fruit should you use in these tacos?
These tacos are equally delicious with orange or grapefruit slices, or with a mix of both. To prepare the fruit, remove all of the peel and as much of the pith as you can. In the produce section of some supermarkets you can sometimes find pre-sliced grapefruit slices in jars. When I can find them, this is always my favorite option!
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Serving Size:2 tacos
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 569Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 137mgSodium: 809mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 9gSugar: 15gProtein: 58g
Food Safety Tips for Cooking Seafood
- Cook fish to a minimum temperature of 140 °F (60 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw seafood
- Wash hands after touching raw seafood
- Don't let seafood stay out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours or for more than 1 hour when temperatures are above 90°F.