Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa & Cilantro-Lime Cream Sauce

28 Aug

What to do with a 45 pound striped bass:

We grilled it, baked it, fried it, and made it into fish cakes. But my favorite thing we made was… fish tacos.

Some of you may cringe, like my mom, when you hear fish tacos. My mom has never tried one because she thinks it sounds unappetizing and just plain weird.

I’m betting a bunch of you are fans like me, but for those still on the fence, I’m hoping this recipe will change your mind (and my mom’s!).

The combination of the fresh fish with the juicy mango salsa, creamy cilantro lime sauce, and crunchy cabbage offers a flavorful break from the traditional taco.

This is a four component meal: three for the tacos (mango salsa, cream sauce, and breaded fish) and one for the side – avocado, corn & tomato salad.

It may seem like a lot of steps, but each step is simple and it’s mostly just prepping the veggies. You can do the salsa, cream sauce, and salad ahead of time.

The avocado, corn & tomato salad is something I’ve been throwing together for awhile. It’s one of my all-time favorite summer dishes. It accompanies the tacos nicely and it’s great as a healthy snack on its own or with tortilla chips.

Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa & Cilantro-Lime Cream Sauce

Adapted from Love & Olive Oil (recipe originally from Culinate)

Makes 4-6 servings (with additional salsa for chips)


For Fish Tacos:

  • 1-1½ pounds of white flaky fish (tilapia, halibut, cod, mahi mahi, or sole; *I used striped bass)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour or instant flour (like Wondra)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 4+ tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, divided
  • 1 package of tortillas
  • 1 package shredded cabbage or lettuce

For Mango Salsa:

  • 5 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped (Tip: soak chopped onion in an ice bath for 10 minutes, drain and pat dry)
  • ½ bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Juice and rind of ½ lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and diced; 2 cloves garlic, minced

For Cilantro-Lime Cream Sauce:

  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • ½ cup light sour cream or low-fat plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • Juice and rind of ½ lime
  • Optional: Salt to taste

For Avocado, Corn & Tomato Salad:

Recipe from Lofty Bites (Inspired by Food Network)

  • 3 ears corn, cooked, cooled and kernels removed
  • 1 ripe avocado, cubed
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved (I like a variety mix of different colors)
  • Fresh lime juice to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a medium to large bowl, prepare mango salsa by combining Roma tomatoes, bell pepper, mangoes, red onion, and cilantro (jalapeno and garlic optional). Then add the chili powder, olive oil, lemon juice, and juice and rind of ½ lime. Mix well. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.
  2. In a small bowl, prepare cream sauce by combining all ingredients (mayo, sour cream and/or yogurt, cilantro, and juice and rind of ½ lime). Salt to taste. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.
  3. Prepare avocado, corn & tomato salad by combining all ingredients  in a medium bow. Squeeze in fresh lime juice to taste. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.
  4. Rinse fish and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Cut into bite size pieces, about 1 inch cubes. Combine flour with cumin, garlic powder, and paprika. In a bowl, toss fish pieces with seasoned flour. In a pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or 2 turns of the pan). Make sure oil is sizzling before adding fish (test with drop of water).
  5. Add half the breaded fish pieces and cook about 4-5 minutes each side until the fish is lightly browned and cooked through. Tip: Turn the fish when the flour on the face side up has dissipated. After turning, add more oil (as needed) to prevent the fish from burning. Remove fish from heat and cool on paper towel-lined plate to absorb extra oil. Repeat process with second batch of fish.
  6. Warm tortillas in microwave for 10 seconds. Assemble tacos by spreading cilantro-lime cream on tortilla, add fish, and layer with shredded cabbage and mango salsa. Serve with avocado, corn & tomato salad.

Lofty Bites’ Notes


  • The ice bath for the red onion takes out some of the bite of the raw onion, preventing it from overpowering the other flavors. It’s a great trick I use often.
  • If the mangoes aren’t ripe or sweet enough, sprinkle them with some sugar and marinate the salsa in the fridge longer.
  • For the cream sauce, you can use any combination of mayo, sour cream and/or yogurt to equal 1 cup.
  • You only need one bunch of cilantro to split between the salsa and cream sauce; only one lime is needed between the salsa, cream sauce, and salad.
  • To save time, use the raw corn kernels (rather than cooking the ears of corn) for the avocado, corn & tomato salad.

Fish preparation: Instead of breading, you could bake or grill the fish. I prefer the light breading with the striped bass.

Leftovers: Use the extra cilantro-lime cream and mango salsa for chips. Combine remaining cabbage and cream sauce for an easy slaw.

10 Responses to “Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa & Cilantro-Lime Cream Sauce”

  1. bobbi munn August 29, 2011 at 6:30 AM #


    again, what a great recipe. one of my kitchen goals has been to find a good fish taco-i will now include yours in the running.

    love the whole ensemble!

    where did mike catch the striper….honestly. what conditions, what bait, what location and timing? you know we are “new” fishers….and the striped bass is one of our fishing goals.


    • loftybites August 29, 2011 at 10:37 AM #

      Glad you like the recipe, Bobbi! The combination of everything is what makes it. Mike caught the striper in late May (Memorial Day weekend) 3 miles off Island Beach State Park in NJ. It was around 11am with calm conditions and water about 62 degrees. They were trolling bunker spoons. It was Mike’s goal to catch a striper too and boy did he get a big one! Good luck!

  2. Amy Taubenkraut August 29, 2011 at 8:22 PM #

    Wow what a catch! I love fish tacos! I have never made them myself but your recipe has inspired me to try. Frank isn’t a big fish eater so I might be eating them alone. Oh well, more for me!

    • loftybites August 29, 2011 at 10:36 PM #

      Amy – you definitely need to make these fish tacos. Super easy and super flavorful! And you may be surprised – Frank may love these because they aren’t fishy tasting. Let me know how it goes!

      • Amy Taubenkraut September 3, 2011 at 8:58 PM #

        I made the Fish Tacos and the Avocado, Corn & Tomato Salad! Everything was delicious. Very refreshing! Frank even ate one. He was trying to keep his enthusiasm to a minimum so he can still claim to not like fish. But I really think he liked it. Thanks Leah keep them coming!

        • loftybites September 4, 2011 at 5:22 PM #

          YAY! I’m so happy that it was a hit! Thanks for letting me know how it went, Amy. I’ll keep ’em coming if you keep trying ’em:)

  3. Louise August 30, 2011 at 1:24 PM #

    Well Leah……I guess you can teach an “old dog” new tricks. I certainly will have to try these fish tacos!! They sure do look inviting!!! I am going to make the avacado, corn & tomato salad this weekend as both corn & tomatoes are in abundance…plus it looks so refreshing. Love ya lots!!

    • loftybites August 30, 2011 at 2:26 PM #

      YAY! I hope you grow to love fish tacos, Mom! Tell me how you like the avocado, corn and tomato salad!

  4. heavyonthecream August 30, 2011 at 3:54 PM #

    Yum…my mouth is literally watering. This recipe looks truly delicious…it’s going into my recipe box. I’m jealous that Mike gets to try all of your tasty creations!

    • loftybites August 30, 2011 at 5:52 PM #

      Thanks Ange! You’ll get to try some yummy dishes when you visit:)

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