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Trash Fish Tacos

Serves: Makes 8 tacos

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  • Fish:
  • 1 pound firm fish fillets (see below for varieties)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced, divided
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Slaw and Assembly:
  • ½ small head red cabbage, shredded
  • 4-5 small globe radishes or 1 large watermelon radish, thinly sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 small Fresno chili, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (white and/or black)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • Cilantro, hot sauce, toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)


Prep the fish: Put fish in a shallow dish. Rub fish with oil, half the lime zest, spices, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, in another shallow dish, stir together lime juice, half the red onion, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Make the slaw: Put remaining onion and lime zest in a large bowl with cabbage, radish, chili, vinegar, sesame seeds, honey and fish sauce. Toss to coat, set aside.

Grill the fish: Heat grill to medium-high. Grill fish for 2-3 minutes on each side. You should be able to easily poke through the fish with the tip of a paring knife. Transfer fish directly into dish of marinating red onion, turning to coat.

Assemble the tacos: Grill tortillas for about 30 seconds on each side. Assemble tacos in tortillas with fish, marinated red onion, slaw and any (or all) of the toppings you want.

What’s left: Spent lime.

Trash fish refers to undervalued, underutilized varieties of seafood that are often thrown back into the sea. These lesser-known fish are often by-catch from big-name fish production.

Fish skin is the bacon of the sea. Keep it on while grilling or cook alongside (free snack for the chef).

Joel and Brooke used skinless rockfish. There are a lot of bones, so have your fishmonger remove them. The filets are thin but when cooked they stay meaty and firm.

Notes from Ren at Trash Fish:
•If you like salmon, you would love wild caught steelhead trout.

•If you like tuna you would love tuna bycatch.

•If you like shrimp you should try sea snails, whelks, or limpets. Don’t let the shell intimidate you. They’re cheap, easy to cook, and protein packed.

Recipe courtesy of Scraps

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