Folks in Mexico's coastal cities - where fresh fish and tacos are both plentiful - have been enjoying fish tacos since before the arrival of the first Europeans.
The tacos in the U.S. are almost always topped with some kind of creamy sauce, as well as with shredded cabbage and/or avocado.
My version is light on calories, but heavy on flavor. The fish is lightly floured and sauteed rather than deep-fried. The citrus mayonnaise sauce went bye-bye in favor of a avocado/buttermilk puree.
A note about the fish: I used tilapia because it is sustainable, affordable and widely available. But substitute any fish you like.
HEALTHY FISH TACOS WITH BUTTERMILK AVOCADO PUREE
Start to finish: 40 minutes servings: 4
1 large Hass avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into eighths
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrot
1 cup coarsely grated radishes
1/4 cup white wine or cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
Hot sauce, to taste
1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into 8 equal pieces
Whole-wheat flour, for coating the fish
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Eight 6-inch corn tortillas
Sliced fresh jalapeno peppers, to serve
Chopped fresh cilantro, to serve
Heat the oven to 200 F
In a food processor, combine the avocado, buttermilk, 1 clove of garlic, lime juice and salt and pepper. Puree until smooth, then set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the cabbage, remaining garlic, carrot, radishes, vinegar, sugar, lime zest and hot sauce. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Set aside.
Heat a heavy skillet (such as cast-iron or stainless steel, but not nonstick) over medium heat. One at a time, place the tortillas in the skillet and toast for about 30 seconds per side. As the tortillas are toasted, stack them on a sheet of foil. Wrap the foil around the tortillas, then place them in the oven to keep warm.
Alternatively, the tortillas can be held with tongs and toasted directly over a gas burner for a few seconds per side.
In a pie plate or other wide, shallow bowl, combine about 1 cup of flour with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. One at a time, dredge each piece of fish through the flour until coated evenly. Shake off any excess.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat about 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high. Add half of the fish to the pan and cook, turning once, until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes a side. Transfer to an oven-safe plate and set in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining oil and fish.
To serve, top each tortilla with a bit of the avocado puree, then a piece of fish. Drain the cabbage mixture, then mound some of that over each portion. Serve with jalapeno slices and cilantro on the side.
Nutrition per serving: 500 calories; 190 calories from fat (38 percent of total calories); 22 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 60 mg cholesterol; 51 g carbohydrate; 10 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 31 g protein; 370 mg sodium.
Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years. She currently stars in public television's "Sara's Weeknight Meals" and has written three cookbooks, including "Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners."