These fish tacos channel the best beach vacation vibes

  • Citrus-Marinated Fish Tacos.

    Citrus-Marinated Fish Tacos. Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post

By Becky Krystal
The Washington Post
Updated 7/30/2019 3:03 PM

I have not yet had the pleasure of sitting on a remote beach somewhere in Mexico, but in my head, anyway, I'd be sipping a cold, fruity beverage and eating a plate of something like these tacos. (Yes, even in my daydreams, there is always food.)

Fried fish tacos, often of the Baja variety, tend to get a lot of the love and attention. I won't begrudge them that, because, well, they're fried, and how many of us can resist that? But not everyone wants their fish coated in batter, and definitely not everyone wants to cook it that way. Grilled fish can be just as fun and flavorful, with much less fuss.


I love the idea of grilling and eating fish alfresco, even if in my backyard rather than on that beach. However, I know that grill access isn't always an option, either. So I set about taking a grilled fish taco recipe indoors.

As I've written before, not having a grill is not a deal-breaker. You can get plenty done with a grill pan, a broiler, an oven or even or a combination of them. Quick-cooking fish seemed like an especially easily translated recipe, and my testing bore that out. A citrus-marinated fish inspired by the Yucatán -- take your pick of tilapia or other mild white fish -- from grill master Steven Raichlen was just the right combination of bright and light. I had less luck keeping the fillets intact when I made them on a grill pan, but swapping in a cast-iron griddle or skillet did the trick and gave me better color on the outside, too. If you have a well-seasoned grill pan you're sure the fish won't stick to, feel free to use it.

Even though the fish cooks quickly, you won't have instant gratification, as you do need half an hour to marinate it -- a small price to pay, given the great flavor. The downtime on the fish also means you have plenty of time, with a few minutes to spare, to throw together a cabbage slaw and avocado crema to round out your taco spread. Serve with diced onion, cilantro, lime wedges and pickled jalapeño slices. And maybe (definitely) a margarita.

I can't say eating these in our sunlight-starved downtown kitchen was exactly like my Mexican beach fantasy, but there were tacos. And that was good enough.

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