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From the AICR Test Kitchen
Week of June 27, 2011
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Fresh Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

from the
American Institute for Cancer Research

Try a delicious and different way to enjoy fish. With a distinctive south of the border flavor you can make this nutritious dish as zesty as you want by experimenting with the amount of hot sauce you use.

The fish takes on the flavor of the garlic, cumin and cilantro. The pungent garlic is altered by the warm, nutty flavor of cumin, which is the second most popular spice in the world – second only to pepper. Cumin is in turn changed by the fragrant quality of the cilantro. Both the green and red onions add fresh taste and texture.

This dish's main feature is that it comes in its own wrapper. Flatbreads have been around for almost 10,000 years; but the Spaniards gave the name tortilla to the unleavened flat bread they found in Mexico among the Aztecs in the 15th century. The word itself comes from the Spanish word torta, which means round cake.

The red and white cabbage add a different texture than lettuce typically found in regular tacos. They also provide color, as do the tomatoes – you can make the tacos even more colorful by adding a little shredded carrot. If you don't want to overload your tacos when you assemble them, hold back some slaw to add later or enjoy as a side.

These tacos make the centerpiece for a great meal. Everybody can be involved and create their own masterpiece. So prepare the ingredients and fixings and set up a taco buffet on the kitchen or dining room table. Of course, you can also serve them already assembled. They go great with a side of black beans or a nice avocado salad – or both.

Red Lentil Dal

Fresh Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

  • 12 small corn tortillas (or substitute with whole-wheat tortillas)
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil divided
  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice, divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped and divided
  • 2-3 cups thinly sliced cabbage, mix of red and white varieties
  • 3 green onions sliced thinly
  • 1 small red onion sliced thinly
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 1 lb. Tilapia fish fillets
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 6 lime wedges for garnish
  • Hot sauce (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Place tortillas in aluminum foil and cover completely. When oven has reached 300 degrees, place tortillas inside to warm. (This also could be done on grill while fish is cooking.)

Combine 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/4 cup cilantro, cabbage, green onions, red onion, and tomato dice in a bowl and set aside.

Season fish with garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, remaining oil and cilantro, and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Heat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Place fish on grill/pan, careful to only turn once so it doesn't break apart. Let cook over medium high heat for about 4 minutes on first side and then about 2 minutes on second side. Let rest on large plate for about 5 minutes. Carefully flake apart the fish into roughly 1-inch size pieces.

Assemble tacos by placing fish and then slaw in each tortilla. Serve immediately with lime wedges and hot sauce, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 274 calories, 9 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 31 g carbohydrate,
19 g protein, 5 g dietary fiber, 165 mg sodium.


Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at www.aicr.org.


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