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Pacific rockfish is the star of the show in these rockfish tacos with cilantro lime tartar sauce. The fish is perfectly seasoned and blackened then the juicy chunks are tucked into warm tortillas with crunchy cabbage slaw and drizzled with a tangy tartar sauce. They're quick and healthy to make for a light dinner that's ready in 20 minutes!
When it comes to tacos, they need a few key components: something hearty (rockfish), something crunchy (cabbage slaw), and something creamy (cilantro lime tartar sauce), with lots of fresh cilantro and lime. This simple yet intensely delicious fish dish is all that and more. You'll want to add it to your weekly meal rotation because it's also the perfect light and healthy dinner, and it's ready in just 20 minutes!
What is rockfish
Pacific rockfish—also known as rock cod or Pacific snapper is a versatile lean white fish with a delicate flavor profile. It's a common near-shore fish found in the waters along North America's west coast. There are many different types of rockfish and they can vary in shape and size but what they have in common is their firm texture and mild flavor. Cooking rockfish is easy and quick, and because it's so adaptable, it makes a great choice for using in recipes where a fish type isn't specified.
How to make rockfish tacos
It's easy to make rockfish tacos in just a few simple steps:
- Make the tartar sauce. In a small bowl, mix some tartar sauce, lime juice, and cilantro.
- Prepare the rockfish. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and then season it on both sides.
- Cook the fish. Heat some oil and butter in a pan and sear it until it's deeply colored then break it into several smaller pieces.
- Make the slaw. Mix shredded cabbage with some of the cilantro lime tartar sauce.
- Assemble the tacos. Pile some slaw into a tortilla, top it with a few rockfish pieces and any other toppings, then drizzle the top with a spoonful of cilantro lime tartar sauce.
Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.
Ingredients you'll need to make these fish tacos
You'll need just three ingredients for the cilantro lime tartar sauce:
- Tartar sauce – a store-bought version works perfectly as a base for the sauce.
- Cilantro – adds its unique fresh flavor.
- Lime juice – adds tang and brightens it up.
Here's what you'll need to make the rockfish tacos:
- Rockfish – has a juicy, delicate flavor. You can substitute another white fish like tilapia or snapper.
- Blackening spice – if you don't have blackening spice, cajun seasoning makes a great (and spicy!) substitute. Or taco seasoning and fajita seasoning also work well and only have a little heat.
- Oil – any neutral cooking oil.
- Butter – adds a rich flavor to the fish and helps prevent it from sticking to the pan.
- Cabbage – for that wonderful crunch.
- Tortillas – you can use your favorite kind, flour or corn work great.
- Toppings – minced red onion, avocado slices, and lime wedges are what we used in the pictures, but you can have fun and add your favorites. Our easy guacamole recipe goes really well with these tacos!
Also, try this blackened cod fish!
Rockfish Tacos: Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use a different type of fish?
Yes! Any type of firm white fish like lingcod, red snapper, or tilapia works well. Or go for a richer flavor and try salmon.
What kind of tortillas should I use?
Either corn or flour tortillas work great. We like using small, 4-inch soft tortillas, but larger ones work, too.
How long does the fish last in the fridge?
The fish will taste best when it's freshly cooked. However, leftovers will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days.
How to serve rockfish tacos with cilantro lime tartar sauce
When to serve rockfish tacos
Tacos are such a festive and fun food to eat. Here are some times we love to enjoy them:
- On a patio in the sun with a fizzy lime margarita!
- A quick and healthy weeknight dinner or afternoon snack.
- Any kind of gathering like a summer backyard hangout, by the pool, birthday party, Cinco de Mayo, or another special occasion (tip: a taco holder stand is really helpful when making them in a larger batch)
- When camping. The fish is really easy to make on different cooking surfaces and you don't have to worry about making a mess.
- By the beach. Fire up your portable grill, make dinner, and stay to watch the sunset!
Favorite fish taco recipes
Cilantro Lime Tartar Sauce
- ¾ cup tartar sauce (use your favorite brand)
- ¼ cup minced cilantro
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 ½ lb rockfish
- 2 tablespoons blackening spice (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 12 4-inch tortillas (warmed)
- Minced red onion, cilantro, and avocado slices, and lime wedges (for serving)
- In a small bowl, mix the tartar sauce, cilantro, and lime juice.¾ cup tartar sauce, ¼ cup minced cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Dry the rockfish with paper towels then season both sides with blackening spice.1 ½ lb rockfish, 2 tablespoons blackening spice
- Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the rockfish. Let it cook undisturbed for 4 minutes then give the pan a shake so the fish releases from the pan. Flip the rockfish over and let it cook for 2 more minutes then take the pan off of the heat and break the fish into many smaller pieces.1 tablespoon cooking oil, 1 tablespoon butter
- While the fish is cooking, make the slaw by mixing ¼ cup of the cilantro lime tartar sauce with the shredded cabbage.2 cups shredded cabbage
- To serve the tacos, pile some slaw on a warm tortilla, top with a few pieces of blackened rockfish, any or all of the toppings, and a spoonful of the cilantro lime tartar sauce.12 4-inch tortillas, Minced red onion, cilantro, and avocado slices, and lime wedges
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.