fish tacos—moku’s way

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This taco recipe is also from the Merriman’s Hawai’i Cookbook. Justin and I loved this recipe! After Justin finished eating, he literally licked his fingers, and wiped the little beads of sweat from his forehead from the heat of the jalapenos. Yes, this recipe’s a keeper! And I halved the recipe since it’s just the two of us. But I gave the ingredients for the original serving size of twelve. Enjoy!

Serving size: Makes 12 fish

fish and marinade


1 1/2 lb mahi-mahi or halibut, skinless and boneless

1 tbsp coriander seeds

4 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 tbsp ground cumin

1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp kosher salt

3/4 cup canola oil

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon

1 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves

napkins! 🙂



Marinate the fish by cutting it into 12 logs (long strips), slicing across the filet. Place fish logs into resealable plastic bag.

Place garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, paprika, salt, canola oil, olive oil, lemon juice, and cilantro leaves in a blender or food processor. Process with with 3 (2 second) pulses to combine, then pulse continuously for 5 to 10 seconds. Pour marinade over fish, securely seal the bag and gently turn to distribute the marinade and coat each piece well. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours. Remove fish just before cooking and place in a colander to drain excess marinade.

Prepare tomatilla salsa (see tomatilla salsa recipe below) and garnishes (see garnishes below) as directed.

Cook fish in a cast iron skillet or on a griddle. Heat the pan or griddle for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter, and when melted add 4 to 6 fish logs, being careful not to crowd them. Cook for 2 minutes, turn, and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, until just flaking. Transfer cooked fish to a dish and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Repeat with the remaining fish logs.

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Assemble the taco by warming each tortilla in a dry skillet turning once. Compose each taco by layering one fish log, a portion of the dressed cabbage, 1 tablespoon of the tomatillo salsa, a few chunks of the avocado, a few chunks of the tomato, and some cilantro leaves. Roll or fold the taco and place into a taco holder, if you have them. Serve with lots of napkins!

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tomatillo salsa


1 lb tomatillos (about 10)

1 large sweet onion, chopped

1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp)

1 1/2 cups water mixed with 1 tbsp kosher salt

3 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, divided

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, divided

1 tsp kosher salt, divided

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided

pinch of cayenne pepper



Cut each tomatillo in half at the equator, then slice each half into quarters. Place half of the tomatillos in a 1-quart saucepan and add onion and garlic. Add salted water and stir. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain tomatillo mixture. Let mixture cool at room temperature.

Place uncooked tomatillos into blender or food processor. Add 1 tbsp of the cilantro leaves, 2 tbsp of the lime juice, 1/2 tsp of the salt, 1/4 tsp of the black pepper and the cayenne pepper. Blend or process with 2 (3-second) pulses to mix, then 2 (5-second) pulses to puree. Pour mixture into bowl, and let cool. When cooked tomatillo mixture is cool, stir into the raw mixture.




1/4 head white cabbage, julienned

1 small avocado

2 small tomatoes or 1 large tomato

splash of lime juice

salt to taste

pepper to taste



Place cabbage in a small bowl and add a splash of lime juice, salt, and black pepper to taste. Toss to combine.

Peel avocado, remove pit, and cut into a 1/2 inch dice. Cut tomatoes into a 1/2 inch dice.



(Adapted from Merriman’s Hawaii Cookbook)

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