Stop, for a moment, and consider the best fish tacos you’ve ever had. There’s always that something extra that brings together a harmony of flavors—maybe something sweet, or creamy, or crunchy (or all three)! More often than not, that clutch addition to those favorite fish tacos is a refreshing slaw to counterbalance the taste and texture of your grilled or fried fish ingredients. And the worst fish tacos tend to flagrantly omit the integral slaw topping. Make your fish tacos memorable (for the right reasons) with these excellent and unique slaw topping recipes.
Most slaws are coleslaws, meaning they have a cabbage base (kool meaning cabbage). This first recipe follows that trend, but sidesteps boring with the addition of tangy lime juice and spicy jalapeños. Thinly-sliced red pepper rounds out the last of the “big three” in terms of factors varied in a well-rounded meal: taste, texture, and color (thanks, home economics class!). This coleslaw complements even simply-seasoned grilled fish in a taco. Get our Spicy Lime and Jalapeño Coleslaw recipe.
A true cole-less slaw, our our Carrot Slaw recipe uses grated carrots instead of cabbage. With Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, and orange zest, its flavor profile is tangy, and it delivers the crunchy texture we expect from a good slaw. The vinegary, mustardy taste would pair well with tacos of beer-battered fish (think fish and chips-style), providing a healthier kick than the usual tartar sauce.
Light and refreshing, this slaw of endive, fennel, and apple adds a bright crispness your fish tacos would otherwise lack. The dressing consists of oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and shallots, highlighting the sometimes subtle flavors of the fennel. Try with deep-fried fish or even poke-style tuna! Get our Fennel-Apple Slaw recipe.
When you’re looking to make your fish tacos extra-colorful and veggie-ful, look no farther than this recipe for Rainbow Slaw. Bringing back the cabbage base, this coleslaw uses both green and red varieties, as well as yellow pepper, orange pepper, red tomatoes, orange carrots, and deep purple Kalamata olives to create a vibrant, vitamin-packed salad or taco topping. Apple cider vinegar and maple syrup combine for a touch of unexpected sweetness.
This next recipe takes that first spicy slaw to the next level by introducing a delectable creaminess with Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. It’s got the cabbage (though purple this time), the jalapeño, and the citrus, but now with those additional ingredients to provide cooling respite. Get this recipe for Creamy Cilantro Lime Slaw, touted for its halibut-taco toppability.
If you like the idea of a “cooling” slaw, but you’re not in love with mayo (mayo and I are already in a committed relationship anyway, so back off!), this recipe for Apple and Poppy Seed Coleslaw delivers “refreshing” with only a fraction of the mayo! Lemon juice, poppy seeds, and julienned apple make this coleslaw pop with tanginess, creating the perfect foil to your taco’s fried-fish protagonist.
With ginger, sesame seeds, and pineapple, this next slaw just begs to be paired with tuna poke or blackened salmon. While this recipe for Skinny Hawaiian Slaw calls for two cups of slaw mix, you can just as easily (and more cheaply) chop and shred the cabbage variety of your choice. This super fresh and bright slaw will be a welcome addition to fish tacos as well as an excellent take-along side for picnics!
This last slaw marries sweet and spicy with the help of a lime-mango vinaigrette. The citrus of limes and half an orange, the sweetness of honey, and the heat from chili pepper combine to perfectly accent the crunchy mixture of cabbage and jicama. Diced mango and cilantro bring it all together for a complex slaw that will take shrimp and fish tacos to a whole other level. Get this recipe for Mango Jicama Slaw and Lime-Mango Vinaigrette.
Any way you slice it (“it” being cabbage or another crunchy vegetable), you’re bound to enhance a boring old slaw-less fish taco with added layers of texture and flavor. Choose sweet, creamy, bright, spicy—or a combination of all!—and “relish” (yes, we went there) the perfect harmony fostered from your fish taco topping of choice!
Related Video: How to Make Easy, Healthy Fish Tacos
Header image by Chowhound.