Stuffed with buttery blackened salmon bites and shredded cabbage then drizzled with a luscious Jalapeño cilantro Crema and crumbled Cotija cheese, our Salmon Tacos are sure to hit the seafood spot.
Even though I’ve found salmon can be quite polarizing to many people, I can’t seem to stop finding ways to use. From crispy a crispy pan-seared exterior, blackened and broiled there’s almost a limitless way to prepare this nutrient-packed fish. My family happens to be quite enamored with it so much so, my extremely picky five-year-old claims it as his very favorite food (aside from hot dogs and candy of course) so it appears on our dinner table more often than any other protein.
However, when it comes to tacos, salmon seems to have been lost amongst flaky white fish since that’s how you see it presented in most cases. Today buttery blackened salmon bites get nestled into warm corn tortillas with a handful of shaved cabbage and the most delicious slurp-worthy jalapeno avocado crema. These salmon tacos are simple, satisfying and definitely the new cool kid taco on the block.
Let’s get started!
Salmon. I think the reason some people don’t like salmon is because they aren’t buying high quality salmon. I’ve had this argument with many of friiends and it always ends with this, go to Whole Foods. Their Atlantic salmon is super affordable and tastes like butter. If you don’t like it the way I’ve told you to prepare it and you get from there, I will never pressure you to try it again. Make sure to get center-cut salmon so you have nice big pieces of fish in each salmon taco.
Seasoning. My favorite combination of blackening seasoning is a heavy hand of paprika, oregano, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. You can play around with the ratios based on your taste.
Oil. Because there is a very quick cooking time, the oil you use it up to you. Canola oil, olive oil or coconut oil are all great.
Cabbage. I wanted these salmon tacos to stay simple so our garnishes reflect that. Finely shredded cabbage by itself lends a wonderful texture and crunch.
Cheese. I’m partial to a queso fresco or cojita cheese. Feta works as well and is usually a bit more cost effective.
Tortillas. I prefer to use corn tortillas but flour will also work if that’s what you prefer.
What you’ll need for the jalapeno sauce
- greek yogurt
- lime juice
- salt + pepper
Let’s make salmon tacos
Make the seasoning. Mix the spices in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cut the salmon. Dice the salmon into 1/2-1-inch cubes. Pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle on all sides with seasoning.
Cook. Heat a cast iron skillet to a high heat. When the pan is very hot, drizzle with oil. Coat the bottom. Add the salmon in one even layer. Let the salmon cook for 1 minute until crisp and slightly blackened, turn and cook on the other sides. Remove from the pan.
Make the sauce. While the salmon cooks, add the avocado, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, jalapeno, water, yogurt, salt and pepper to a regular or mini food processor. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Warm the tortillas. Place the tortillas in a dish towel. Microwave for 30 seconds to one minute. The tortillas should be warm and pliable. Keep them in the towel until you’re ready to assemble.
Assemble. Spoon some sauce on the bottom of the tortillas. Top with a handful of cabbage. Nestle 3-4 pieces of salmon on top. Drizzle with a bit more sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.
Can I make salmon tacos in advance?
You can mix the seasoning, cut the salmon and make the sauce ahead of time. When you’re ready to eat, cook the salmon and warm the tortillas. This will take the cooking/prep time from 30 minutes down to 15.
Do I have to use salmon?
No! Swap out any firm fish – halibut or swordfish would be great subs. Shrimp would also work great.
- If you like spice, add some cayenne pepper to the seasoning blend. Like it smokier? More cumin.
- As mentioned, swap out the salmon for halibut, swordfish or shrimp
- Use flour tortillas instead of corn or even lettuce wraps
- Feta works in place of cotija if you can’t find it or want to save a bit of money
Tips and Tricks
- make sure you pat the salmon dry, this will help the flesh to get crisp.
- be sure to buy center cut salmon
- don’t skip warming the corn tortillas, otherwise they will fall apart
- use a cast iron or non-stick skillet to ensure your fish doesn’t stick
- 1 1/2 lbs center-cut salmon filets (you can get a whole side or individual filets just make sure it's center cut)
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt, divided
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium avocado
- 1 jalapeno seeded and veins removed
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 3 tbsp yogurt
- 1 large garlic clove (no need to chop)
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 3 tbsp water
- 8 small corn tortillas
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
- 1 mini food processor
- 1 Cast iron skillet
- Mix the paprika, oregano, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and 3/4 tsp salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Use a sharp knife to dice the salmon into 1/2-1-inch cubes. Pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle on all sides with seasoning.
- Heat a large (12-inch is what I use) cast iron skillet to a high heat. When the pan is very hot, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Swirl the pan to coat the bottom (cast iron skillet handles get very hot so be careful). Add the salmon in one even layer. Let the salmon cook for 1 minute until crisp and slightly blackened, turn and cook on the other sides. Remove from the pan.
- While the salmon cooks, add the avocado, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, jalapeno, water, yogurt, salt and pepper to a regular or mini food processor. Blend until smooth. Season to with salt and pepper.
- Place the tortillas in a dish towel. Microwave for 30 seconds to one minute. The tortillas should be warm and pliable. Keep them in the towel until you’re ready to assemble.
- Spoon some sauce on the bottom of each tortilla. Top with a handful of cabbage. Nestle 3-4 pieces of salmon on top. Drizzle with a bit more sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.