Dreamy Fish Tacos With Creamy Chipotle Aioli

Posted by on Aug 17, 2012 in Entrees | 10 Comments

“It’s all about grace, man.” 

The group nodded, heads bobbing as one, like the buoys out in the ocean behind them. The man they called Petri sat on top of the rock, his board resting silent beside him. “You know, you can’t just go out there and slay it. That’s not what it’s about.” 

He didn’t really know why they listened to him. Every day, he went out on the waves. Then, he came back, he settled on the rock and stared out at the water. Sometimes he said things and when he did, people seemed to like it. 

First one kid came and sat next to him, then another. Then, two more. Sometimes, like today, they’d bring him food. 

They were strange offerings. Today, it was a tumble of limes into his lap.  

Petri shook his head, chased by his own thoughts and picked up one of the limes. One of the girls had asked him how he did it, how he managed to stay so calm in the curl of the wave. They thought that’s what it was, his calm, his ease, that kept him there so long, so much longer than the rest of them.  

It was true, Petri felt no fear there but there was no calm either. But he didn’t have the words to explain why or how it happened or what happened in that break. They were waiting but he stayed still and silent, unsure of what else to say, unsure if there was anything he could say that would give the girl what she wanted to hear.

Instead, he studied the lime, its perfect curves, how it fit in his hand, its hidden pockets. He let the rest of it, all of it, all of them, fall away, knowing as he did so that the answer they wanted was right there- not in the asking, but in the act of letting go. 

It’s summer. My friends are here from LA, visiting. I’m at work, willing the rest of Friday’s hours to melt away so I can meet them.

I used to live in LA, did you know that? I did. I lived in West Los Angeles, on the border of Santa Monica. For the first two years, I didn’t have a car so I took the bus and walked everywhere. If you’ve been to LA, live there or know remotely anything about LA, you know that this is madness, walking. Because LA is all about cars. Cars and the beach and the grimy glitter of Hollywood boulevard. Short skirts and sunglasses. And tacos. TACOS. When Nicole and I pondered our next recipe pick, this was at the top of my list. I saw this recent post, starring blackened fish tacos with creamy chipotle aioli and two crunchy slaws, from the wonderful ladies at Muy Bueno Cookbook and sent it to her immediately. “Let’s make this please.”

Because of all the things I miss about living in Los Angeles (and that specific list is pretty small- I ended up in Maine, after all. To say it wasn’t the right fit would be quite the obvious understatement), tacos and my friends top the list.

Not in that order, of course.

Blackened Tilapia Fish Tacos with Chipotle Aioli Sauce

Source: muybuenocookbook.com | Makes 2-4 Servings | Print Recipe


For Savory Cilantro Lime Coleslaw:

4 Cups of finely shredded cabbage
1/3 Cup of chopped cilantro
3 TBSPs of lime juice
2 TBSPs of vegetable oil
Salt to taste

For Chipotle Aioli Sauce:

1 Cup of creme fraiche or sour cream
2 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 TBSP of adobo sauce
1/3 Cup of chopped sweet onion
Salt to taste

For Tilapia Tacos:

1 and 1/2 Teaspoons of paprika
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons of dried Mexican oregano
1/2 Teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 Teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 Teaspoon of crushed red peppers
1 TBSP of honey
1 TBSP of fresh lime juice
2 (6 ounce) tilapia fillets
Cooking spray
4 to 8 corn tortillas
Lime wedges


Savory Cilantro and Lime Coleslaw:

Combine the cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, vegetable oil, and salt in a large bowl. Toss well and chill about 1 hour before serving.

Chipotle Aioli Sauce:

Combine crema, chipotles, adobo sauce, and onion in a food processor or blender. Blend until creamy and smooth. Salt to taste.

Blackened Tilapia Tacos:

1. Combine spices, honey, and lime juice in a bowl.

2. Using your hands, coat both sides of the tilapia.

3. Spray the grill grates or pan before heating. Heat and grill each side for 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Warm corn tortillas in pan and plate with hunks of blackened tilapia, coleslaw, and drizzle with spicy chipotle aioli sauce. Serve with lime wedges.


  1. Kayleigh
    August 17, 2012

    Can I just say these look amazing? Great, as usual. 🙂

  2. Elizabeth
    August 17, 2012

    Walking?! Only as exercise, not to actually get anywhere. I live in West LA now too. Could not imagine living in Maine (tad cold for this thin skinned gal). My family is what keeps me here, otherwise I’d be looking for a small town and land.

  3. Josie Lee Suska
    August 18, 2012

    Can’t go wrong with fish tacos! It’s the one reason I hunt down little corn tortillas wherever I am living! Pictures look great!

  4. Lynna
    August 19, 2012

    Ohhh, man…that sauce looks so tasty!

  5. Kate
    August 20, 2012

    I just wanted to leave a quick note — I absolutely LOVE your blog and, even more so, the photography! Your monthly calendars are my fave – always bring a smile to my face (and growl to my belly). Thanks for brightening my days! Cheers!

    • Nicole
      August 21, 2012

      Thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoy the blog & calendars!

  6. Shawn
    October 3, 2012

    These were incredible and SO fresh-tasting! I’ve yet to find good fish tacos in my city (Kentucky is lacking in great seafood options), but these tasted like I was back in California with saltwater in my hair and an ice cold beer in hand. I’ve already written this one down and added it to my recipe box. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Barbara
    August 27, 2015

    Over the years I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a restaurant and eaten something wonderful and said….”I am going to reproduce this at home”… and never do! Fish tacos have changed that for me. I came online today in search of a recipe that would suit my tastes and found it here on your website! I was enchanted by the “Lime” story and charmed with the photography. I almost forgot why I was here! It was such a pleasant interlude in my day! Not just finding a great recipe but finding a place of comfort. Thanks!

    • Judi
      August 27, 2015

      So nice! Thank you so much Barbara!


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