As a California native, is it any wonder I love tacos? When we spent almost two months in Mexico, I fell even more deeply in love. One of the best things about them is that they’re so easy to make delicious with just about anything you have on hand, as long as you’re balancing the flavors. And that’s where this cilantro sauce for fish tacos comes into play!
Fish tacos tend to be fairly muted and earthy in flavor, of course, thanks to the fish. For a nice balance, that means the sauce should be bright and flavorful. When I created this sauce, my goal was to incorporate some traditional flavors you would expect to find on a taco with enough brightness to help elevate the fish. The result is creamy, packed with flavor, and boasting the bright tastes of lime and cilantro.
Notes on This Recipe:
Consistency: this sauce as written is fairly thick and rich. Feel free to drizzle in water, a little at a time, to thin it out if you prefer. Depending on how thick or runny your sour cream is, you may need to add some extra liquid just to get the sauce to blend.
Spice: if you like your sauces spicy, add in a piece of fresh chili! Use whatever kind you like. Jalapenos, bird’s eye chilis, and habaneros all work well. You know your own spice tolerance, so add as much or as little as you prefer.
Sour cream: this is the obvious choice for this recipe, and the easiest to get your hands on. But if you have it, I recommend substituting creme fraiche instead! The flavor is milder, which lets the other ingredients shine at the forefront. It’s not a huge difference, but I prefer its subtlety.
Thyme: there’s something about the combination of cilantro and thyme that’s just magical, and really underappreciated. The flavor of the thyme isn’t strong or forward in this sauce, but it’s just present enough to fill in the overall flavor and add an extra dimension.
Serving Suggestions for Cilantro Sauce for Fish Tacos:
This goes great on fish tacos, of course, since that’s what it’s designed for! But you can also use it on other kinds of tacos, or any other Mexican-inspired recipes. It’s delicious in burritos (use it instead of sour cream) and even works well as a drizzle over a steak or fajitas. The possibilities are endless!
Prepare the ingredients. Cut off any thick cilantro stems, but don’t worry about picking the leaves off the small stems. You just don’t want any of the thick, tough stems that will leave unpleasant chunks in the final sauce. (But these stems are full of flavor, so save them for another use!) You’ll also need to trim the roots and upper leaves off the green onions and cut them into 1” pieces to make them easier to blend. Finally, peel the garlic. That’s it!
Blend everything together. Put all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. At this point, you may need to add a bit of water to get the mixture to blend. (I don’t recommend using more lime juice, or the result will be too acidic.)
Taste and adjust. Taste your sauce and see what you think. At this point, before you take it out of the blender, it’s easy to adjust anything. Add more cilantro, chili, garlic, salt, cumin, or anything else you think it needs. If the sauce is thicker than you prefer, mix in water a bit at a time until it reaches your preferred consistency.
Cilantro Sauce for Fish Tacos
- 1 cup moderately packed cilantro (thick stems cut off)
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ cup sour cream
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon picked thyme leaves
- 3 green onions
- 4 tablespoons lime juice
- pinch of salt
- piece of chili pepper (optional)
- Trim the roots and upper loose leaves off the green onions, then cut into 1” pieces. Peel the garlic.
- Put everything in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If necessary, add a bit of water to loosen the sauce and allow it to blend.
- Taste and add more cumin, salt, or lime juice if necessary.
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