Make The Best Use Of Leftover Fish And Put Them Tacos

While some foods, such as stews, soups, and pizza, can taste better the day after they are made, fish typically does not fall into this category. Freshly cooked fish is moist and tender but tends to dry out and lose its appealing texture when reheated. Fortunately, leftover fish doesn't have to go to waste, as it can be transformed into other dishes like quick and easy fish cakes or even homemade fish stock for a flavorful chowder. But if you're looking for something a bit more substantial, consider using your leftover fish to make fish tacos.

Fish tacos are excellent for repurposing leftover fish because they are both easy to make and highly customizable. To prepare them, start by reheating your fish in the oven to maintain its moisture and texture. For leftover fried or battered fish, reheat it uncovered to crisp up the exterior. For baked or grilled fish, wrap it in foil with a splash of water before reheating to keep it moist. Once the fish is properly reheated, you can assemble your tacos using your favorite toppings.

Tips for turning leftover fish into tacos

When transforming leftover fish into tacos, you don't want it to taste like leftovers stuffed into a taco shell. To avoid this, choose a fish taco recipe that actually complements the texture and flavor of your leftover fish. Fish tacos are generally categorized into two styles: Baja-style and grilled. Baja-style fish tacos are made with fried white fish, making them the perfect vehicle for using leftover fried, battered, or even parmesan-crusted fish. The traditional pairings for Baja-style tacos include creamy sauces and shredded cabbage, which harmonize well with these types of fish.

On the other hand, if your leftover fish was originally baked, pan-fried, or grilled, consider using it in a grilled fish taco recipe. Grilled fish tacos are known for their combination of smoky flavors with fresh, vibrant ingredients like citrus, chimichurri, pico de gallo, and mango salsa. This style typically favors meatier and fattier fish such as halibut, salmon, tuna, and swordfish.

When you shouldn't use leftover fish in a taco

While using leftover fish in tacos can be a delightful way to repurpose a meal, there are certain situations where it might not be the best choice. First and foremost, if the fish has been sitting in the fridge for a while or shows any signs of spoilage, such as an off-putting odor, sliminess, or discoloration, it's too late to use it in a fish taco. Leftover fish is only good for up to three days when stored properly in the refrigerator.

The only other occasion when you may not want to use leftover fish in a taco is if it was originally in a dish that had strong flavors or sauces that might not transition well into a taco. For example, a fish that has been heavily spiced or cooked in a robust sauce — like halibut with mustard seeds and curry – might clash with the usual toppings on a fish taco. In such cases, it's better to consider other uses that might suit the specific flavor profile of the fish rather than forcing it to be a taco. That said, under most circumstances, transforming leftover fish into a taco can result in a tastefully reimagined meal.