Get in a fiesta mood with these succulent flathead tacos! The fish is seasoned with sweet paprika and chili powder, giving it a tender, sweet heat. Its bed of carrot asparagus slaw adds a punch of acidity, while the chili coriander mayo cools things down with a little kick at the end. Serve them with some toasted wholemeal tortillas, fresh avocado, and coriander leaves, and you have one exciting, flavourful meal!
One thing I miss about living on the west coast of Canada is the amount of fresh seafood available year round. It’s always delicious, and we have lots of restaurants serving up amazing concoctions from the humblest fruits of the sea.
Growing up, there wasn’t much variety to our fish dinners. We mostly ate salmon and halibut with the occasional frozen prawn pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I love all three – halibut and salmon remain two of my most favourite fish to eat. However, when I moved to Australia, my seafood world opened up a little wider. I was introduced to fish I’d never even heard of before, some of which have become new favourites, such as creamy swordfish and the little flathead.
Today we’re featuring flathead. It can be a bit of a finicky fish to cook as it is quite small and thin. It only needs about six minutes in the pan all together, otherwise you can overcook it and it will taste a bit rubbery. The key to cooking flathead well is to watch it like a hawk; don’t try to do other things while it’s in the pan. As soon as it begins to flake apart, take it off the heat immediately.
I love fish tacos (my favourite place to eat them is a little shop in Victoria, BC called Red Fish, Blue Fish), so I thought I’d give them a shot at home. This combination is fabulous! I love how the acidity and sweetness of the slaw complements the sweet heat of the flathead. The cooling yet zippy mayonnaise adds a little punch of flavour at the end, and the creamy avocado works wonders with the crunchy slaw.
You’re going to love these tacos. They have so much going on that you’ll need to have a second just to experience it all!
- 6 asparagus spears
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tbsp coriander (cilantro), chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup light mayonnaise
- ½ bird's eye chili
- juice of 1 lime
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- handful of coriander (cilantro), stalks included
- pinch salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
- 3 large flathead fillets, skinned and de-boned
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp sweet paprika
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ⅛ tsp chili powder
- scant ⅛ tsp dry mustard
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp water)
- 4–6 small wholemeal (whole wheat) tortillas, to serve
- 1 avocado, sliced to serve
- handful of coriander leaves, to serve
- To make the slaw, carefully grate the carrot and asparagus and place in a mesh colander over a bowl. Add the salt and stir it into the mixture. Allow the vegetables to sit and drain for 10 minutes while you prepare the mayo.
- In a small food processor, combine the mayo, chili, lime juice, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Blitz the ingredients together until well combined and smooth. Pour into a serving dish, cover with plastic wrap, and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
- After the vegetables have sat, squeeze the excess water from them and place in a clean serving dish. In a smaller bowl, combine the white wine vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Pour the dressing onto the vegetables, add the chopped coriander, and stir together. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Cover the slaw with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, paprika, ginger, chili powder, dry mustard, salt, and pepper until combined. Set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter and olive oil together. Once the pan is hot, dip the flathead fillets into the egg wash and then into the flour, turning to coat. Place the fillets into the hot pan and allow to fry for 3 minutes on the first side. Turn the fillets over and continue cooking for a further 2–3 minutes, or until the fish begins to flake apart. Remove the fish from the pan immediately. Break the fillets apart into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces and place on a serving platter.
- To assemble the flathead tacos, take one tortilla and top with a couple tablespoons of the slaw. Place a few pieces of fish on top of the slaw and finish with the mayo, sliced avocado, and coriander leaves. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- This dish is best served the day it is made.