These easy blackened fish tacos are topped with a delicious black bean and corn salsa, simple lime crema, and crumbled queso fresco. With a cold drink on the deck, this is the ultimate light and fresh summer meal!
How’s your summer going so far? We’re just coming out of a heat wave unlike anything we’ve seen in Montreal in recent years. Considering what a brutal winter we had though, I have ZERO complaints.
And the heat did not stop us from enjoying as many meals on the deck as possible. Especially light, flavorful meals that go nicely with a cold beer or this fresh squeezed lemonade recipe.
For me, this equals tacos!
Remember this Cajun blackened fish from last week? After I saw how easy and delicious it was, my head was spinning with ideas to put it in everything. I didn’t waste any time, and decided to start with these blackened fish tacos.
I whipped up a quick black bean and corn salsa, and with an easy lime crema and some crumbled queso to top it all off, this was the perfect outdoor summer meal!
What is blackening?
Blackening is a cooking technique used in Cajun cooking whereby a protein (like fish, chicken, or shrimp) is dredged in butter, well-coated in a blend of spices and then cooked over high heat.
The result is a dark, flavorful crust on the outside and a moist interior.
In this case, I opted to skip the butter and just sear the fish in a little oil, and it worked perfectly. Feel free to coat the fish in melted butter first, if you’d like to go the traditional route!
Firm white fish
Any firm white fish, including, haddock, halibut, cod, tilapia, snapper, grouper, mahi mahi or flounder can be used. I most often use rockfish or grouper (pictured above), depending on price and availability.
See below for more info on rockfish, which is my personal favorite when I can get it.
The spices in this blackened fish recipe are those of a typical Cajun seasoning and you probably have all of these on hand. Making my own Cajun seasoning is my preference for freshness and also because I can adjust the spices to taste.
Instead of this blend you can use 2 1/2 tablespoons of store bought Cajun or blackening seasoning if you like.
Since blackening is done over high heat, you need an oil with a high smoke point. Good choices are canola or vegetable oil, avocado, grapeseed, or peanut oil.
Olive oil’s smoking point is too low for high heat cooking.
Corn and Black Bean Salsa
The salsa came together really quickly with canned black beans and frozen corn, some veggies, cilantro and a tangy lime vinaigrette. It was the perfect complement to the fish, but would also be terrific on it’s own, served with chips!
I love the color and small size of black beans in salsa, but feel free to sub any bean you have on hand. I use canned beans for simplicity but you can absolutely soak and cook your own.
Red onion is relatively mild, and great for salads and raw recipes. It also has great color. However feel free to use a white or yellow onion instead.
If you don’t like cilantro, parsley may be used instead.
I love to make a simple lime crema to serve with these tacos, but you can use plain sour cream or crema instead.
I love to lightly char and warm corn tortillas in a very hot cast iron skillet. They only take a few seconds per side each, and it gives them great texture and pliability.
You can definitely use flour tortillas instead of corn if you like.
Crema, crème fraiche, yogurt or Greek yogurt may be substituted. I prefer a full-fat sour cream, but low-fat can be used too.
I often use feta instead of queso fresco. Both are crumbly salty cheeses with a similar flavor. You can used shredded Monterey Jack or another shredded cheese if you prefer.
What is Rockfish?
I most often use rockfish , also known as Pacific snapper for blackened fish. It tastes great and is inexpensive.
I discovered it when my fish monger was out of my first choice, red snapper. It looked similar so I decided to give it a shot, and ended up liking it even better!
Rockfish is a bass-like fish, common in the pacific ocean. It has a firm white flesh and a mild taste. If you can’t find it though, you can of course substitute any firm white fish.
how to make blackened fish tacos step-by-step
- In a small bowl, combine spices (paprika, onion powder, thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper) to make an easy Cajun seasoning.
- Sprinkle the seasoning on both sides of the fish. Use all of it for the best blackened crust.
- Heat the oil in a cast iron pan over high heat and cook the fish until deeply charred and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside and cover with foil. Tear into large chunks before serving.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl add the black beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro.
- Add the dressing and toss to combine.
- Make the lime crema: combine sour cream, lime zest, lime juice, and salt in a small bowl.
8. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat (no need for oil) and cook each tortilla for a couple of minutes per side to lightly char and heat.
9. Assemble the tacos with a few chunks of fish, a spoonful of corn and black bean salsa, a scoop of lime crema and a sprinkling of queso fresco and cilantro, Serve with lime wedges,
In my opinion these are the ultimate fish tacos. Full of fresh flavor, and much healthier than the battered and deep fried variety.
We CANNOT get enough tacos (or Mexican food in general) around here. If you love them as much as we do, here are a couple other tacos we love!
And if you you just can’t wait longer than 15 minutes for your Mexican food fix, try these easy chicken quesadillas! (Now that I think of it, I think the corn and black bean salsa for these blackened fish tacos would be amazing in – or on top – of these quesadillas!).
Hope the weather’s treating you well and you’re getting in plenty of downtime with your friends and family!
Sound good to you? If you make this recipe, I would be thrilled if you would take a pic and tag me on Instagram @ourhappymess!
Blackened Fish Tacos with Black Bean and Corn Salsa
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1.5 lbs rockfish fillets or other firm white fish such as snapper, tilapia, cod, haddock, etc.
- 4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
Black Bean and Corn Salsa
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice or more, to taste
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small clove of garlic minced
- 1 cup canned black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn kernels frozen and thawed, canned, or fresh
- 1 plum tomato seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup red onion chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp lime zest
- 1 tablespoon lime juice freshly squeezed
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta
- cilantro chopped
- 12 corn tortillas lightly toasted in the cast iron pan, or briefly heated in the microwave
- 1 lime cut into wedges
- In a small bowl, combine the paprika, onion powder, thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the seasoning mix evenly over both sides of the fish fillets.
- In a large cast iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Once the pan is very hot, add the fish fillets and sear for about 2-3 minutes, until dark but not burnt. Flip the fish and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side, until cooked through.
- Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Before serving, tear the fish into large chunks.
Black Bean and Corn Salsa
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. Add the dressing and toss until well combined.
- In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, lime zest, lime juice and salt.
- Serve fish with tortillas, salsa, cheese, lime crema, lime wedges and extra cilantro.