Grilled Fish Tacos with Chipolte Dressing & Coconut Rice


It may be a surprise, but I used to be one of the pickiest eaters I’ve ever known. My parents would have to feed me Nutter-butters just so I could get some protein, and the closest thing to fish that I would eat was frozen fish sticks. Now I’ll try just about anything, and I love sea food (besides oysters, I have yet to develop a taste for those slimy things). The first dish that really got my to love sea food was these amazing fish tacos from a restaurant in Pewaukee, WI called Kahuna’s. Sadly, Kahuna’s ran out of business about three years ago, leaving us fish taco-less. We have yet to find a restaurant that makes fish tacos as well as they did. In the meantime we have been on a search for our own recipe that can stand up to Kahuna’s. After many trial and errors, we came up with this recipe for Grilled Fish Tacos, which has become one of my favorite meals. It is ALWAYS on my food list when I come home since I don’t have access to a grill at school (believe me, it tastes way better grilled than baked). Serve these tacos with a side of coconut rice and you’ll feel like you’re eating at a beach-side dive in the Caribbean.





  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp seafood seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce, such as Tobasco
  • 1 lb tilapia fillets


  • 1 (8 oz) container light sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp seafood seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Corn Tortillas (8-12, depending on how much you stuff your tacos)
  • 3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1-2 cups cabbage slaw

Coconut Rice

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp coconut flakes, toasted


Fish Tacos

  1. To make the marinade, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, lime zest, honey, garlic, cumin, chili powder, seafood seasoning,  black pepper, and hot sauce in a bowl. Place the tilapia in a shallow dish or zip-lock bag. Pour the marinade over the fish and refrigerate 2-3 hours.
  2. To make the dressing, combine the sour cream and adobo sauce in a bowl. Stir in lime juice, lime zest, cumin, chili powder, and seafood seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until it’s needed. (This makes a lot of dressing and we always have leftovers. We use the left overs on quesadillas and sandwiches, otherwise you can just cut the recipe in half if you don’t want leftovers.)
  3. Preheat the grill to high heat and lightly oil a grilling grate. Set the grate 4 inches from the heat.
  4. Remove fish from marinade, drain off excess marinade and discard. Grill the fish about 9 minutes, turning once. The fish should easily flake with a fork.
  5. Grill the tortillas for about 1 minute on each side or until they are lightly toasted. (This just prevents them from falling apart when you eat them)
  6. Assemble the tacos! I like to spread the chilpotle dressing on the tortilla first, then add the fish, then the tomatoes, cabbage, and cilantro. Sometimes I’ll put a spoonful of coconut rice inside my tacos as well. This recipe makes about 4 servings (two tacos each, depending on how full you stuff the tacos).

Coconut Rice

  1. Start the rice at least 15 minutes before grilling the fish to be sure it’s ready when you want to assemble tacos. If you leave the rice covered it will stay warm for a long time.
  2. To toast coconut, cook coconut in a non-stick pan, over medium-high heat until it starts to lightly brown. Be sure to stir constantly, as it cooks very quickly. Once it starts to turn a golden brown, remove pan from the heat and set aside. You may need to remove the coconut from the pan completely if it continues to cook too much.
  3. To make the rice, combine rice, water, and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Cover and let stand for at least 10 minutes or until ready to serve.
  4. Before serving, stir in toasted coconut.

The Frugality

Fish is often thought of as an expensive meal, however, it is possible to eat fish and not spend a ton of money. Tilapia is a very inexpensive fish, especially if it’s purchased frozen and in bulk. If you freeze fish, especially tilapia, it will keep for several months. Just be sure to thaw it completely, either in the fridge or under cold water, before cooking it!

This recipe costs around $14.60, or only $3.65 per serving! If you ordered fish tacos at a restaurant it would cost you somewhere between $10 and $20 for a plate. I can attest that these fish tacos are just as good as, if not better than any restaurant’s tacos.


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