Food The Bite:

Fish Tacos With Pickled Cabbage & Pineapple Salsa

By Athena Calderone for Cook Beautiful. Photo by Johnny Miller.

Fish Tacos With Pickled Cabbage & Pineapple Salsa

Digging into fish tacos always takes me back to the very first time I made them. It was my first season on Long Island’s East End and I was discovering a whole new landscape and meeting new friends. On a sunny afternoon, a group of us piled into the kitchen, armed with a fish taco recipe we’d found in the New York Times. One friend prepped the cabbage, another diced the tomatoes, and I whipped up the black beans. As we chopped and chatted, I remember feeling it was the beginning of something special. Even though I hadn’t spent much time in this unfamiliar place, I was already feeling at home.

Swoony tip: Tacos have many accouterments, so you will need multiple plates, bowls, and serving pieces. Use them to tell a visual story. I serve my tortillas in a natural woven basket—to reflect the handcrafted aesthetic of Mexico—and incorporate varying shades of blue. The striped napkin adds a classic coastal vibe, while the teal glassware and ceramics evoke the sea.

Read on for this deliciously simple fish tacos recipe and serve it for family and friends all season long. I guarantee you will want to make this at least once a week.

Fish Tacos with Pickled Cabbage & Pineapple Salsa

Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone





3 cups shredded green cabbage
2 jalapeños, cut into thin rounds
1 1⁄2 cups white wine vinegar 1⁄4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds


2 pounds flounder or fluke fillets (any delicate white fish will do)
3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1⁄4 teaspoon minced habanero chile
1 teaspoon ground cumin|
1⁄2 orange, zested and juiced
A few sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the grill
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
3 limes, thinly sliced, for grilling (optional)


Corn tortillas
Pineapple Salsa
Avocado Cream
1 or 2 radishes, thinly sliced
A few sprigs fresh cilantro
Lime wedges


2 cups finely chopped fresh pineapple
1⁄2 cup finely chopped white onion
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
3⁄4 teaspoon minced habanero chile (or more, to taste)
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
A few sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped
A couple sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped


2 ripe avocados, flesh roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 2 juicy limes)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon salt


Make the cabbage: In a large bowl, combine the cabbage and jalapeños. In a small pot, bring the vinegar, 1 cup water, the sugar, salt, peppercorns, and coriander seeds to a boil. Stir until the sugar and salt have fully dissolved. Pour over the cabbage and jalapeños. Let them cool to room temperature, then drain them in a colander. Put the pickled cabbage into a bowl and set it aside; refrigerated, it will keep for up to 1 day.

Make the flounder: Preheat the grill over medium-high heat to about 400 F. Place the fish in a baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together all of the marinade ingredients. Pour the marinade over the flounder and let it sit for at least 10 but no more than 20 minutes. Remove the fish from the marinade and drain off the excess.

Grill the tortillas until they’re lightly charred. Wrap them in aluminum foil and put them on the cooler part of the grill to keep them warm (when you’re ready to serve them, wrap them in a kitchen towel to keep them from drying out). Oil the grill grates well and grill the fish until it’s cooked through and lightly charred, 1 1⁄2 to 2 minutes per side.

Alternatively, to avoid sticking, you can grill the fish on a bed of sliced limes until it turns opaque and is cooked through, about 3 minutes total; if you use this method, there’s no need to flip the fish.

Just before serving, use your fingers to tear the fish into chunky pieces. Serve it immediately on the warm tortillas topped with pickled cabbage, pineapple salsa, avocado cream, sliced radishes, and torn cilantro. Serve the limes wedges on the side.

PINEAPPLE SALSA: In a small bowl, stir together all of the ingredients. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to two days if not using immediately.

AVOCADO CREAM: In a mini food processor, blend all of the ingredients until they’re smooth and creamy, with a silky, yogurt-like consistency.

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