Jerk Around

Fish tacos spiced and slathered
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Tasting Table's National edition editor, Kaitlyn Goalen, challenged the Test Kitchen to come up with the ultimate mayonnaise recipe for our monthlong celebration of burgers. In addition to a basic mayonnaise, we devised nine easy ways to boost it, including one with Corvette-red Peppadew peppers. With Peppadews on our brains, we added them to a speedy homemade tartar sauce served on these simple jerk-spiced fish tacos.

Jerk Fish Tacos with Peppadew Tartar Sauce

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Yield: 4

Cook Time: 15 minutes


Tartar Sauce

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream

3 Peppadew peppers, finely chopped, plus 1 teaspoon Peppadew juice from the jar

1 scallion, finely chopped

½ small shallot, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


2 tilapia, or other mild white fish fillets (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise and each halve sliced crosswise into 3 pieces

2 limes, 1 halved and the other cut into wedges

½ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

¼ cup cornmeal

3 tablespoons Jamaican jerk seasoning, divided

½ cup canola oil

12 warm corn tortillas

Fresh cilantro leaves for serving


1. Make the tartar sauce: In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, Peppadew peppers, scallion, shallot, salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

2. Make the tacos: Place the tilapia pieces in a medium bowl. Squeeze the juice from the lime halves over the fish and turn the fish to coat; set aside. In another medium bowl, stir together the panko, cornmeal and 2 tablespoons of the jerk seasoning. Remove the fish from the lime juice and place on a plate. Sprinkle the fish with the remaining 1 tablespoon of jerk seasoning, then dredge the pieces in the panko mixture, one piece at a time, pressing the coating firmly onto both sides of the fish before returning each piece to the plate.

3. In a medium nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat, add the oil. Once the oil is hot, after about 1 to 1½ minutes, add about half the fish pieces. Reduce the heat to medium and fry on both sides until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes total (when the fish is semi-firm to the touch, it is done; especially thick pieces of tilapia may take a little longer to cook through). Use a spatula to transfer the fish to a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining fish pieces.

4. Place a piece of fish in the center of a warm tortilla. Top with a generous dollop of the tartar sauce and a few cilantro leaves and serve with a lime wedge.

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