Achiote marinated fish tacos recipe

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Fish fillets marinated in a homemade achiote paste, grilled and served on warm corn tortillas with shredded lettuce and a homemade chipotle chile mayonnaise. A simple, delicious Mexican taco dish that makes a fantastic main dish.
Preparation time: 90 minutes, Cooking time: 15 minutes, Serves: 4 


For the achiote paste
4 heaping Tbsp achiote (also called annatto) seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
12 whole allspice

For the Chipotle mayonnaise
1 cup mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, roughly chopped

For the fish tacos
2 cloves garlic, peeled minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
3 Tbsp achiote paste
1 lb yellow-tail, red snapper or similar fillet, skin removed
1 Tbsp olive oil

For the fish tacos
8 (8 inch in diameter) corn tortillas
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
Chipotle mayonnaise (use as much as you like)
1 lime, cut into wedges


Prepare the Achiote paste
Add all spices in a spice grinder (you can also use a pestle and mortar) and grind them in batches as finely as possible. Put the ground spices in a small bowl and add enough water to make a thick paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Make the Chipotle mayonnaise
Add the mayonnaise, garlic, olive oil, lime juice, salt and chipotle chiles in a food processor or blender and process until you get a smooth puree. Empty the mayonnaise in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Marinade the fish fillets
In a small bowl add the garlic, salt and achiote paste and mix well. Add the fish fillets in a large plastic sealable bag and pour the achiote mixture over them. Gently massage the achiote mixture into the fillets until they are completely covered with it. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Cook the fish
When the fish has marinated for an hour, take it out of the bag and scrape as much of the achiote paste as possible. Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Cook the fish for 6 to 8 minutes per side, until done (cooking time depends on the type of fish used and the thickness of the fillet). Remove the cooked fish from the frying pan and let it rest for 5 to 6 minutes. Slice it thinly across the grain (the fish may break apart but it is normal).

Assemble the fish tacos
Warm tortillas in the oven or microwave and place 2 per person on individual serving dishes. Divide the fish among the tortillas and top with cabbage and the chipotle mayonnaise. Garnish with the lime wedges and serve immediately.

Notes and tips

You can refrigerate left over achiote paste and chipotle mayonnaise for 1 to 2 weeks.
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