Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tyler's Ultimate Fish Tacos Made Ultimately Healthier

March's Optional Bonus Recipe for Tyler Florence Fridays is Tyler's Ultimate Fish Tacos. Big applause to Megan for selecting an easier recipe this time, as I am still recovering from last month's gnocchi-making! I make fish tacos fairly often, so I was anxious to try Tyler's version. Tyler's recipe does come with additional salsa and chili mayo recipes but everything goes together easily and fairly quickly, especially if you prepare the salsa and chile sauce ahead of time. I have a definite "no deep-frying rule" going on at my house so my goal with the challenge was to "healthify" Tyler's recipe quite a bit. Baking the fish and a few ingredient changes such as swapping out yogurt for the mayo and sour cream in the chile sauce, etc., made these tacos lighter, much healthier but still delicious.  

Tyler's Ultimate Fish Tacos
Tyler's Ultimate, Tyler Florence
(Yields 8-10 servings)

2 pounds mahi mahi (skinned, boned and cleaned) cut into 1-ounce strips
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons water
2 cups panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/2 head savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1 bunch cilantro, leaves picked
1 bunch chives, chopped
3 limes, cut into wedges for garnish

Pink Chile Mayonnaise:
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
3 chipotles in adobo, plus 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce
1/2 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mango-Radish Salsa:
2 limes
2 mangoes, diced
4 to 5 red radishes, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the fish. Cut the pieces of fish into 1-ounce strips. Set up a breading station of flour, lightly beaten eggs with water, and seasoned panko bread crumbs. Season all with salt and pepper. Dredge the pieces of fish in flour, egg then bread crumbs. Once all the fish is breaded deep-fry in small batches in (375 degrees F) oil. Drain on paper towels and season with salt. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Prepare the pink chile mayonnaise. Put the chipotles in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, adobo sauce and lemon juice and continue to process until the mixture is consistent and creamy. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare the mango-radish salsa. Remove the peel and pith from the limes and cut between the membranes to remove the segments. Put these "supremes" into a bowl and squeeze over the juice from the membranes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Season and refrigerate until ready to use. You can also place all of the ingredients into a food processor and puree for a smoother salsa.

To serve, set up the tacos "family-style". Assemble the fish in a pile on a plate; the pink chile mayonnaise in a bowl; and mango-radish salsa in another. Set a pile of shredded savoy cabbage, cilantro leaves, chopped chives and lime wedges next to the fish. Toast the corn tortillas lightly over an open flame (on your stove top) and serve.

Notes/Results: Once again, Tyler does a great job in combining flavors and texture; the crunch of the cabbage, the sweetness of the mango, the spice of the chipotle, the tang of the lime all come together in harmony. Since the recipe makes quite a lot, I cut it down to about half. I made a few ingredient substitutions and preparation changes below. 
  • For the tacos: no savoy cabbage was available so I used a purple cabbage instead. According to the nice fish man at Whole Foods, fresh, local mahi mahi is not at it's best at the moment and they were not currently stocking it. He led me to some local swordfish "shutome" instead, for which I could kiss him because it was perfectly tender and buttery as he promised. To bread my shutome, I used whole wheat flour, egg whites and panko (I couldn't find my favorite whole wheat panko so I had to use regular). Instead of deep-frying the fish, I heated a pan in the oven, set to 450 degrees. I brushed the heated pan with a bit of olive oil, placed the fish on it, sprayed the tops lightly with my olive oil mister and baked them about 5 minutes per side. They were perfect! You don't get quite the crunch factor baking them, but I was happy with them and the panko, combined with a bit of olive oil gives them some crispness. I used whole grain spelt taco shells and added some avocado, because in my book, you can't have fish tacos without avocado.
  • For the Pink Chile Mayonnaise: I substituted non-fat Greek yogurt (which I strained overnight to give it more thickness), for the sour cream and mayonnaise. Still spicy, creamy and delicious.
  • For the Mango-Radish Salsa: I lightened the oil a bit, finding one tablespoon for my 1/2 batch to be plenty. Local mangoes are a little stringy right now and my local limes were a bit small and hard so my salsa isn't that pretty, but the flavor was great.
Tyler's fish tacos require a bit more effort than the ones I usually make and I tend not to bread my fish, just spice and grill, but the flavor and texture make Tyler's tacos worth an occasional change from the norm.  

Thanks Megan for a fun and less labor intensive recipe this month. If you want to cook your favorite Tyler recipes each week or join in on the optional challenge, you can visit the Tyler Florence Friday site here to get all the details. A challenge round up will be posted at the end of the month so you can see what the other participants thought of these tacos.


  1. They look great! I loved this recipe, and wish I had more to snack on..
    I agree about the flavour and texture combos, I almost just used baby spinach but I am glad I went with cabbage - the crunch really made it, texture-wise.
    Definitely a favourite Tyler recipe.
    So awesome that you can get spelt tortillas, I have never seen them before.

  2. Looks great and way to go for the healthifying! I would definitely bake the fish as well and I don't like mayo anyway so yogurt would be the perfect substitution. I'm thinking of making this for my family over spring break (which is next week), so its good to hear another rave review.

  3. I'm new to your blog but it's already become a favorite. Here in California, I've gotten used to delicious fish tacos made with grilled fish. Love how you adapt great recipes to be more healthy.

  4. Oh, those look good. I just might have to try this!

  5. love how you lightened this up! looks delicious!

  6. I keep wanting to make these, again. They are excellent! I'm hesitant to deep fry, because...well, I've been noshing on too many desserts!
    However, it's tempting, because this is one of my all time favorite TF recipes. I cooked my halibut in peanut oil... OMG, so good!

  7. Right on, Deb - if anyone could make fish tacos healthier, I knew it would be you.

    And I'm glad no curse words were uttered at me this time around!


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