Taco Salad with Tortilla Chip Crusted Mahi Mahi

I was recently in Florida, enjoying fish tacos on the beach for a hefty $25, and unfortunately the tacos really sucked. The Mahi Mahi was very fishy. I think it was microwaved. The fish was soggy, and it was too generously topped with sour cream and guacamole. PLUS, this was all served in floppy flour tortillas that were withering away in my hands. I was sad. I wanted crunch, I wanted to taste the fresh fish underneath all of the toppings, and I wanted my $20 well spent. These tacos don’t *deserve* any press for their underwhelming performance, but here they are just so you can understand. Oh god, I just realized there was also unmelted cheese too. It was 86 degrees outside, HOW can you have unmelted cheese?!?! Now I’m sweating profusely. I need to change the subject….

Hi ok. What I was getting at is this. I am back in New York (woohoo :/) and I decided to bring some Mahi Mahi to my life. But this time, instead of being served on sour cream soaked tortillas, the Mahi Mahi is being encased in crispy corn tortilla chips (yum) and placed on a nutritious and delicious salad with all of the elements that make a great taco or burrito bowl: green leaf lettuce, black beans (can be subbed for pinto beans,) cilantro (say what you want about our lovely cilantro but I think she’s a star,) red onion (shallot, in this case,) lime crema, tomato and avocado. If you do not like salads, think about it this way: this is a deconstructed fish taco with guacamole on a plate. If you like fish tacos and guacamole, you will like this. I promise.

a plate of taco salad with tortilla chip crusted mahi mahi

Before we get to ~*the recipe*~ I just want to note how Mahi Mahi tastes, for anyone who has never tried it. I also want to note that you can make this recipe with any fish, or even chicken breast. I am not 100% confident when I say this, but I do think it could work with red meat as well. Try it out and let me know.

Mahi mahi is what I like to call a “medium bodied” fish. What I mean by this is that it is mildly fishy (not as mild as cod, but its definitely not fish forward) and it also has a firm texture, with a bit of flakiness. It’s not as firm as swordfish or tuna, but it’s not as flaky as cod. It’s right in the middle. It’s a safe bet for seafood lovers, it’s not a safe bet for seafood haters. Seafood haters would prefer chicken or cod with this recipe (boring but you have to please boring eaters sometimes and that is ok.)

a plate of taco salad with tortilla chip crusted mahi mahi

Taco Salad with Baked Tortilla Chip Crusted Mahi Mahi

A healthier alternative to fried fish tacos: air-fried or baked tortilla chip crusted Mahi Mahi over a taco salad. Green leaf lettuce, black beans, avocado, cilantro, red onion and a lime crema make this salad nutritious and delicious! The battering method can be used with any fish or even chicken. It's also gluten-free.
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American, Gluten-Free
Servings 2


For the Mahi Mahi:

  • 2 Mahi Mahi fish fillets skin off or on (if it comes with the skin, you can easily remove the skin when the fish is cooked)
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free all purpose flour can sub for regular flour
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 cup corn tortilla chips coarsely crushed
  • Salt for seasoning
  • Olive oil for pan

For the salad:

  • 3 cups green leaf lettuce torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 can black beans washed and drained
  • 3 tbsp cilantro chopped for salad
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • 1/2 shallot sliced into rings
  • Juice of 1 lime set aside 1/2 tsp for the beans and use the rest for the salad dressing
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Extra tortilla chips for topping
  • Cilantro leaves for topping
  • 1 lime for topping (optional)

For the lime crema:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Zest of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt + more to taste if preferred


  • Prep the salad ingredients and set aside.
  • Place the oven rack to the second highest level, and set the oven broiler too high. Please note that all ovens racks are different, and I made this recipe with an electric broiler. If you have a gas broiler, make sure there is ample space between the fish and the flame, so the chips don't burn. If it feels too close, it probably is.
  • In a large bowl or dish, whisk together the egg and water to make egg wash. Pour the flour into another large dish or bowl and place it on the right side of the egg wash. (If you're left handed, place it on the other side!) Pour the crushed corn tortilla chips into another bowl and place it on the other side of the egg wash.
  • Thoroughly dry off the fish fillets with a paper towel. This helps the flour adhere to the fish, for extra crispiness.
  • Choose one hand to be your dry hand, and one hand to be your wet hand. With the dry hand, dip the fillet in the flour until it's fully coated on all sides.
  • Pick up the fish with your dry hand and transfer it to your wet hand. With the wet hand, dip the fish into the egg wash until it's fully coated in the egg mixture.
  • Place the fish into the bowl of crushed corn tortilla chips. Use the dry hand to sprinkle tortilla chips around the sides of the fish until it's fully coated. Then, put the fully coated fish onto the cutting board. Repeat with the next fillet.
  • Season an oven-safe skillet with olive oil, enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Place the fillets in the pan, skin side down if they have skin on, and broil for 10 minutes.
  • After five minutes, rotate the pan so that the tortilla chip crust is toasting evenly all over the fish.
  • While the fish are in the oven, start to build the salad. In a large mixing bowl, combine black beans, 1 tsp of olive oil, 3 tbsp chopped cilantro, 1/2 tsp of lime juice (just one squeeze if you don't want to measure) and a generous sprinkle of salt. Toss together until fully combined.
  • In a salad serving bowl, combine the beans with lettuce and tomatoes and toss. Coat the salad in 1 tbsp of olive oil, then add the rest of the lime juice and a generous sprinkle of salt. Toss the salad until all ingredients are fully coated.
  • In another bowl, make the crema. Mix together the sour cream, lime juice, lime zest and salt until thoroughly combined. If you want the crema to be saltier, add more salt to taste. Set the crema aside.
  • When the fish is done, remove it from the heat and place the cooked fish on a clean surface.
  • OPTIONAL: If you want, clean off the pan and put it over high heat. Do not add more oil. Char the lime, flesh side down, for 2 minutes until browned. Remove the lime from the heat and set aside for topping. This is truly unnecessary, it's just a cute touch
  • Plate the salad, spreading it around on the plate and leaving a little empty spot in the middle to place the fish.
  • Place the fish into the middle of the salad. Sprinkle shallot slices on one side of the salad and place the avocado slices on the other side. Top the avocado slices with cilantro leaves.
  • Finally, place the lime wedge on the edge of the plate, along with a dollop of the lime crema.
  • Serve immediately.
Keyword air fryer recipes, baked fried fish, crispy baked fish, mahi mahi

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