Summery Fish Tacos from 'Cook's Country'

Daniel Hautzinger
Three fish tacos with avocado and pickled red onion and slaw in a stand
These fish tacos are inspired by a version at a San Diego restaurant. Photo: Cook's Country

Season 16 of Cook's Country premieres on Saturday, September 9 at 12:00 pm. 
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The end of summer is approaching, which means that, 1. new seasons of cooking shows are coming to WTTW, and 2. you should enjoy vibrant dishes while long evenings, sunny days, and hot weather is still here. So a recipe for fish tacos inspired by a restaurant in San Diego (home of perfect summer weather) from Cook's Country (which has a new season premiering on WTTW on September 9) is ideal for the time. The fish is lightly fried with a sauce that is typically served in Mexico on a grilled whole fish, split right down the middle. This version lets you avoid the fish bones.

San Diego Fish Tacos

This recipe was inspired by the fish tacos served at Karina’s Cantina in San Diego, California. Make sure to prepare all your taco fixings before cooking the fish. Use a mandoline to slice the cabbage as thin as possible. The combination of red and green cabbage is for aesthetic reasons; if preferred, you can use a single variety of cabbage. Other fish, such as snapper, bass, haddock, and halibut, can be substituted for the cod. Other varieties of Mexican hot sauces, such as Cholula or Valentina, can be substituted for the Tapatío


For the Zarandeado sauce:
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 arbol chile, seeded
1 tbsp Tapatío hot sauce
1 tbsp beer
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1 garlic clove, chopped
3/4 tsp soy sauce
3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt

For the fish:
4 (6- to 8-ounce) cod fillets, each cut lengthwise into 3 pieces
1 1/2 tsps kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsps vegetable oil, divided
2 tbsps unsalted butter, divided

For the tacos:
1 1/2 cups finely shredded red cabbage
1 1/2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
12 corn tortillas, warmed
1 large tomato, chopped fine
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and stems
Pickled red onion
1 avocado, sliced thin


1. For the Zarandeado sauce: Process all ingredients in blender until smooth, about 20 seconds. Reserve 6 tablespoons sauce for cooking cod. Sauce can be prepared and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.

2. For the fish: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle cod with salt and pepper. Place flour in shallow dish. Dredge cod in flour, shaking to remove excess, and transfer to large plate.

3. Heat 1 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add 1 tablespoon butter and cook until foaming subsides. Add 6 pieces cod to skillet and cook, without moving them, for 2 minutes.

4. Drizzle cod with 3 tablespoons reserved sauce and then, using fish spatula, gently flip pieces. Shake skillet gently to distribute sauce and let cod continue to cook until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove skillet from heat and, using spatula, transfer cod to prepared wire rack.

5. Transfer cod to oven to keep warm. Wipe out skillet with paper towels and repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon butter, 6 pieces cod, and 3 tablespoons reserved sauce.

6. For the tacos: Combine red and green cabbage in bowl. Build tacos by placing 1 piece of cod in center of each tortilla, followed by cabbage, tomato, cilantro, Zarandeado sauce, pickled onion, and avocado. Serve immediately.