Achiote Cod Tacos with Charred Corn Salsa

I wanted to try something slightly healthier than baja fried fish tacos (which are delicious), so I grilled the fish and served it with a charred corn, pepper, and tomatillo salsa, guacamole, pink pickled onions, a chipotle crema, and homemade corn tortillas. You can find the recipes for guacamole and pickled onions here. Achiote is hard to find in the UK (I had to order mine online) so if you can’t find any don’t worry, just add a bit more chipotle and more paprika for colour. This also goes for tomatillos, which I struggled to find, so you can char up some fresh tomatoes if you’d like or just omit these.

Ingredients (to serve 4):

For the fish

  • 4 Cod fillets, boneless and skinless
  • 1 tbsp Achiote paste
  • 2 heaped teaspoon Chipotle paste
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 3 Garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 tbsps Vegetable oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Smoked paprika
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper

For the salsa

  • 2 Whole ears of corn
  • 4 Tomatillos
  • 2 Bell peppers, quartered and seeds removed
  • 2 Limes, juiced
  • A bunch of coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped
  • ½ Red onion, finely diced
  • 1 Jalapeno, seeds removed and finely chopped (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Smoked paprika

For the crema

  • 75 ml Sour cream
  • 1 tsp Chipotle paste
  • ½ Lime, juiced
  • ½ tsp Garlic salt
  • Black pepper

To serve

  • Corn or flour tortillas
  • Guacamole
  • Pickled red onions
  • Lime wedges
  • Extra chopped coriander/cilantro


  1. Start by making your cod marinade. Whisk together your oil, lime juice, achiote, chipotle, honey, paprika, cumin, and minced garlic. You can also use garlic paste here if you want a smoother marinade. Taste, adjust as necessary and season with salt and pepper. You need some lime juice to break down the achiote paste, but too much starts to cook and break down the fish, and since we’ll be grilling it we want it to be in one piece. Once your marinade is ready, add your fish to a shallow dish and pour over the marinade. Gently turn to coat the fish, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  2. If you’re pickling red onions, do this ahead of time too. This is also a good time to make your corn tortillas if you’re making your own, just cover them with a tea towel until you’re ready to serve so they stay soft. If you’re serving this with guacamole, this can also be done ahead of time (see tip).
  3. Start preparing your salsa. I went for one green and one red pepper, but use whatever you have. You want to char your veggies on the barbecue, but if you don’t have a barbecue you can do this under the grill. To a small jug, add a splash of vegetable oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of smoked paprika. Add your veggies to a baking tray, and pour the oil mixture over. Carefully rub this into the veggies – tomatillos can be delicate.
  4. Heat up your barbecue, then cook your veggies until charred on all sides. The tomatillos might burst, so just remove them as soon as they do this so they don’t melt into your barbecue. If you have a charcoal barbecue instead of a gas one, you can grill the veggies at the same time as the fish, and just keep the fish warm in the oven until the salsa has cooled.
  5. Once all the veggies are nicely charred, set aside until cool enough to handle. Don’t worry about waiting until they’ve completely cooled to chop them up, as chopping them will cool them down quicker. Carefully slice the corn off the cob, dice your peppers and tomatillos.
  6. Add to a bowl and allow to cool. While these are cooling, finely dice your red onion and squeeze over the juice of half a lime and allow to sit for 10 minutes. This will turn the onion a lighter pink colour. Once everything’s cool, add your red onion, the rest of your lime juice, chopped coriander, jalapeno, salt, and pepper. You can also add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil here. Taste, and set aside.
  7. The last thing to do before grilling your fish is your crema. In a small bowl, mix together your sour cream, chipotle paste, lime juice, garlic salt, and pepper. If you want a creamy sauce but don’t want any heat, sub the chipotle for some smoked paprika for colour, and some more chopped coriander. Serve in a shallow dish or a squeezy bottle.
  8. Turn your barbecue back on, and prepare your grilling basket by dipping some kitchen roll in vegetable oil, and brushing it all over the basket. If you don’t oil this well, the fish will stick, and the benefit of the grilling basket is so you can grill fish in one piece! Once it’s oiled, carefully add your fish to the basket and close it. Grill both sides for around 5 minutes each side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork and has reached an internal temperature of 63℃.
  9. Remove from the basket, and chop into bite size chunks. Serve with your tortillas, salsa, guacamole, pickled onions, crema. Finish with some lime wedges and extra chopped coriander. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s