Serious Eats: Recipes

Grilling: Tilapia Fish Tacos

[ Photographs: Joshua Bousel ]

I can't get over the guilt I have for ignoring an entire realm of grilling greatness in this column: seafood. Despite my ability to overcome most food aversions, seafood is one I just can't seem to shake, which leaves me feeling like I'm doing a huge disservice to all of you. My wife, on the other hand, enjoys the occasional sea creature, and she recently took the reigns of the grill to fill it with shrimp and these tilapia fish tacos, a start in rectifying my wrong.

Fish has to be one of the easiest and most difficult items to grill at the same time. On one hand, the need to overly season or marinate is minimal—a good piece of fish just needs the right temperature and time over the coals to be a masterpiece. On the other hand, getting that mixture takes some patience and practice. My wife's first batch crumbled over too high a heat, causing excess sticking and difficulties in turning. By the time the second batch went down, we had it pretty much perfect.

The tilapia—brushed with oil and seasoned with salt and ancho chile powder—was fresh and light on its own, having none of the fishy proprieties that I find off-putting. Seeing as I couldn't find anything to keep me from eating this particular fish, I moved forward in putting together a taco with chipotle crema, cabbage, onion, and salsa fresca. The flaky, soft fish took on all the great flavors of the toppings, transforming a much hated food into something I could see myself cooking over again.

Now, my seafood aversion runs pretty deep, so I won't be going out and grilling fish up a storm anytime soon, but I can see a faint light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully I'll be able to bring you more fishy tales as I make a slow approach towards the end.

Adapted from Grill It by Bobby Flay.

About the author: Joshua Bousel blogs about grilling on his blog, The Meatwave, and appears here on Serious Eats each Friday with a recipe for weekend grilling.

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