Twice as Tasty

Marinated and Grilled Fish Tacos

By successively planting cilantro in coming weeks, fish tacos and more can be in regular rotation

By Julie Laing
Photo by Julie Laing

From the moment cilantro is large enough to cut until it flowers, I’m snipping away to make chermoula, Crunchy Cabbage Salad, marinade for fish tacos and more. Cilantro grows easily but can bolt in just a few weeks as weather warms. The solution is to extend the cilantro harvest.

In fall, we let the plants go to seed and then clean and save some of that seed to replant and use in the kitchen (cilantro seed is called coriander). The rest we let self-seed for an early spring crop. As soon as the volunteers appear, we plant the first round of saved seed, and then we keep planting small patches a couple of weeks apart. Once temperatures consistently push 80°F, we stop planting, usually sneaking in another round or two of seeds in fall’s cooler temperatures for bonus fresh harvests.

The timing pairs well with onion and garlic crops. When the first cilantro leaves appear, perennial walking onions are ready to slice into fish taco marinade and I’m usually using up a few heads of last season’s garlic. Later patches flush as I thin scallion-like plants and volunteer garlic from beds of full-sized storage alliums. In the warmest weather and fall, I slice the green tops of onions I’m pulling to use and store and mince garlic nicked during harvest.

Marinated and Grilled Fish Tacos

Serves 2-3

4 small tilapia or other mild white fish fillets (8–10 ounces total)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion or onion tops

4-6 medium (6- to 8-inch) corn tortillas

Place the fish fillets in a shallow bowl, and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. In a small jar or container, combine the lemon juice, garlic, cumin and paprika. Seal with a lid and shake briefly. Add the olive oil; reseal and shake again until the ingredients combine. Fold in the cilantro and scallions, and pour the marinade over the fish. Cover the dish and set it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to one hour, flipping each fillet at least once.

Lift each fillet from the marinade and onto a plate. Pour the remaining marinade into a small pan, heat on the stovetop to a boil, and boil for two minutes before removing from the heat.

Place the fillets in a grill pan or directly on a hot, well-oiled grill. Wrap the tortillas in foil and set the packet on the grill to warm. Grill the fish for about two minutes per side, until just beginning to flake. Remove the fish and tortillas from the grill. Flake the fish into a few large pieces and toss with the boiled marinade.

Divide the fish among the tortillas and finish with your favorite fillings, such as cheese, salsa and sour cream. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.

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