Fish tacos… most beloved of foods – second only to pizza for me. Every vacation near the ocean is centered around where I’m going to get the best fish taco for lunch (really, I’m not exaggerating)! But, these aren’t just any fish tacos, (although I like them all) my favorite combination consists of fresh grilled salmon, mango salsa, and avocado cream.
This particular recipe today has been in the makings for a decade now, and it’s underwent several innovations! I started with homemade flour tortillas, moved to deep fried corn tortillas, and eventually I settled into lettuce wraps as my shell.
So, why lettuce instead of shells?
Two answers really:
1. They are the easiest (and fastest) shells to make at home – they only require a quick wash in the salad spinner
2. They’re healthier (which came about more as a side benefit, and weirdly enough I prefer the healthier option in this case).
I also used to make both guacamole and pick up sour cream from the store for toppings – yet another problem for an easy meal! By the time you make the shells, grill the salmon, chop up your mangoes, and make guacamole – you’ve invested 1 1/2 hours into dinner!!! So little by little, my favorite fish tacos have gotten a makeover until they’re simple enough to make on a weeknight, but still just as satifying!
For the mangoes, start by peeling them. Cut a small piece off each end, then stand the mango up flat side down, and slice off the mango ‘cheek’ on either side of the pit. Cut away any extra fruit that remains, always cutting away from yourself.
Cut each piece of mango into strips, then cut the strips crosswise into a rough dice. Don’t worry about sizing too much, you mostly want small bite sized pieces – that way you get mango chunks with every bite!
Mix the mango together with the rest of the salsa ingredients and let the flavors meld together while you make the rest of the recipe.
For the avocado cream, blend everything together in a blender until smooth, scraping down the sides once. Transfer the avocado cream to a serving dish. If it’s not a fancy dinner, I usually put my salsa and avocado cream into a pyrex container. If there’s any leftovers, I can just place a lid over the container and put it in the fridge – no extra dirty dishes for me – no sir!
Pull apart the lettuce into individual leaves, rinse and spin them dry. My favorite lettuce for wraps is butterhead lettuce because of it’s wonderfully soft yet still crunchy texture. You can also use leaf lettuce or even romaine (though romaine can be tricky with the big rib running through the middle, it tends to rip and tear). In the summer, I use big spinach leaves from the garden. With any softer green like the butterhead or spinach, I always double up the leaves to make my wrap.
To prepare you salmon for the grill, lightly drizzle each fillet with avocado or olive oil and generously sprinkle it with sea salt. Make sure to get some of the oil onto the salmon skin – it keeps it from sticking to the grill. Place the salmon over medium heat and grill for 3-12 minutes.
Depending on the thickness of your salmon it can cook really quickly. Try about 3 minutes for very thin fillets, but normal salmon fillets, 2-3″ thick will take between 6-9 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it no longer feels squishy when poked and there will be some cooked juices appearing at the bottom of the fillet. If you see white cooked juices coming from the top of the fillet – it’s overdone. If you’re unsure, pull 1 fillet off the grill and test it – better safe than sorry!
You don’t have to grill the salmon for this recipe, but it’s definitely the easiest method. There’s never any fish smells in the house, and cleanup couldn’t be any easier than the grill.
- 1 head butterhead lettuce
- 2 (4-6 ounce) salmon fillets
- avocado oil
- sea salt
- 1 mango, weighing 1 pound, peeled and diced
- ¼ cup minced red onion
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 Teaspoon minced serrano or jalapeno
- 1 Teaspoon sea salt
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
- ½ cup coconut milk, from the can
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 Teaspoon sea salt
- Mix together all the ingredients for the mango salsa and set it aside to let the flavors meld.
- Place all the ingredients for the avocado coconut cream in a blender and blend until smooth. Scoop the cream out of the blender and into a serving dish.
- Preheat the grill on high heat.
- While the grill is heating up, drizzle the salmon with avocado oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Make sure to oil the skin on the bottom of the fillet, it keeps it from sticking to the grill.
- Place the salmon on the grill and immediately lower the heat to medium. Cook until the salmon is barely done, just starting to flake but with some softness left and a bit of translucent pink in the middle. This normally takes 5-8 minutes for individual fillets, a whole fish fillet will take longer.
- While the salmon is cooking, pull the lettuce apart into individual leaves. Wash and dry it in a salad spinner.
- When the salmon is done serve it with the lettuce wraps, mango salsa, and the avocado coconut cream.
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