To make these tacos, you’ll marinate tilapia in an ancho rub, put together a cabbage slaw and top them off with a creamy avocado sauce.
The recipe was created by Dannette Fortner, a Johnson County Community College student chef who used to shy away from fish. That changed when she learned more about ways to prepare it in culinary classes.
“You can create a big flavor with just this simple dish,” Fortner says, adding that the marinade makes the tacos stand out.
Fortner estimated that she spent about an hour putting the ingredients together. Any kind of fish can be used.
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Dannette Fortner is a second-year student in the culinary program at Johnson County Community College. The 21-year-old is an apprentice at the Carriage Club in Kansas City.
About the column
Cooking 101 is a bimonthly column exclusive to The Star designed to introduce home cooks to basic cooking techniques. The recipe, food styling and photography are a joint project between culinary students and instructors at Johnson County Community College’s Hospitality Management Program.
Ancho Chili-Rubbed Fish Tacos
Makes 6 servings
For the fish rub:
4 tablespoons ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds tilapia
For the coleslaw:
3 cups shredded cabbage
1 whole red pepper, seeded and finely julienned
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely julienned
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
For the avocado sauce:
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons roughly chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno, seeded
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
12 corn or flour tortillas
To make the rub: Mix together chili powder, lime juice, olive oil, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a blender. Once mixed, rub it on the tilapia and allow to marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
To make the slaw: In a large bowl, place the cabbage, red pepper and jalapeno. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, zest, sugar, salt and pepper. Add the cilantro to the dressing and whisk again. Pour dressing over slaw and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour; drain off any remaining juice before serving.
To make the avocado sauce: Place avocado, mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, cumin and olive oil in a blender and puree until smooth and creamy, then refrigerate until ready to use.
To prepare tacos: Shortly before serving, remove tilapia from the marinade. Lightly oil grill rack and place tilapia on the grill; cook 3 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness. Cut fillets into chunks; set aside.
Slightly oil grill rack and place the tortillas directly on the rack. Allow them to warm on each side for about 40 seconds to 1 minute, depending on your grill temperature, then flip them over and repeat the process.
Allow diners to assemble their own fish tacos, topping each with coleslaw and avocado sauce.
Per serving: 519 calories (47 percent from fat), 28 grams total fat (5 grams saturated), 63 milligrams cholesterol, 34 grams carbohydrates, 36 grams protein, 630 milligrams sodium