These wholesome vegan fish tacos are SO delicious and will make for such a fun change in your taco Tuesday recipe routine! They are made with hearts of palm that are breaded using nori sheets to give them a subtle fishy flavor. Also baked in the oven, completely free of oil and they come together so easily. Get ready for a fun tasty meal!
It's Tuesday which means it's... TACO TIME!
I'm so very much excited to share my first taco recipe with you guys! Clearly it was becoming a must. How can a plant-based blog truly exist without a delish taco recipe. (updated: I also now have a lentil walnut taco meat recipe!)
Not that we don't eat tacos at all. We will usually use a black bean base that's very simple to make, which pretty much involve opening a can and warming up the beans with chili powder, or something like that. It's seems like all the other garnishes steel the show anyway and the black beans are just there for support.
So, I thought I needed to find a better 'piece de résistance' for taco Tuesdays. Something that will stand out a little more. Something that feels special, and unique, and won't be lost within the slaw and cream sauce and other veggies.
So I made these AH-MAZING fish-less hearts of palm fillets! They won't trick you thinking it's fish, obv, but they certainly will bring a super fun food-from-the-sea vibe in the taco.
And, how do you feel anyway about a 'fishy' kind of vegan recipe? I think it's so much interesting and original to make traditional meals from the sea while skipping on the real fish. Did not know that you can make a tomato-tuna or use sweet potatoes when making sushi without feeling too much disoriented?
But either you are a fan of mimicking fish or not, these tacos are incredibly tasty and such a fun recipe to make for all the seafood lovers. Hope you try them out on your next taco Tuesday cook out!
Why using hearts of palm for the vegan fish fillets
Hearts of palm are great to use as fish replacement for their flaky texture, tender bite, white color and subtle flavor. Their mostly tasteless nature makes them a great addition in many recipes as you can really flavor them the way you want.
In this case, the sea flavor comes from the seaweed (the simple nori sheets you use to make sushi) and I love adding a squeeze of lime juice to enhance the flavor.
There are different kinds of hearts of palm, but I like using the long stems opposed to the salad-cut shape, so it really looks like a fillet. I used the hearts of palm from the brand 365, but any brand will work.
Also, some brands of hearts of palm can have a more or less briny flavor. I tried different ones and didn't find it to be a problem, but you can always pat them dry first before breading if you prefer.
Ingredients you'll need to make vegan fish tacos
- Hearts of palm, whole
- Regular breadcrumbs
- Nori sheet, I used GimMe organic brand
- Vegan milk, any kind
- Freshly squeezed lime juice
- Spices (paprika, onion powder, salt)
I like to pair the 'fish' fillets with a super quick slaw. To make it, you'll need:
- Green cabbage
- Cumin powder
Plus, plan on having corn or wheat tortillas and any other garnishes you love. I love the flavor and the bigger size of the corn tortillas from Maria and Ricardo's when making tacos. But whenever I have extra time, then I'll definitively make my own vegan tortillas. I like to combine these tacos with a simple tomato pico de gallo, avocado and a spicy mayo. Or, try serving them with my pineapple pico de gallo for a sweet and salty recipe!
How to make vegan fish tacos
This is a simple recipe that can really be all done within 30 min. I like to start by making the slaw so the cabbage has some time to soften and marinade while the fillets are baking. Here is how I make it:
Step 1: Make the quick cilantro slaw
Simply shred the cabbage, transfer to a large bowl and add the cilantro, lime juice, salt and cumin powder. Stir well, taste to adjust the flavor and set aside.
Step 2: Make the vegan fish fillets
- Pre-heat the oven to 400º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a food processor, add the breadcrumbs, nori sheet (roughly break first), onion powder, paprika and salt. Process until the nori is broken down in tiny pieces. You can take a few breaks to mix up inside and help processing. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
- Take a second shallow bowl and combine the vegan milk and the juice of half of a lime (the milk might curdle, that's fine!).
- Then, drain the hearts of palm and slice them so you have about 16 pieces. You will more likely have a can that's holding 4 large stems, which you can cut in 4 equal pieces lengthwise. BUT, I also ended up with cans that had thinner stems which I simply left alone or only cut the thicker ones so they are all mostly equal (see the video to have a better idea on the shape you are looking for).
- Bread the hearts of palm: one stem at the time, dip in the milk-lime bowl, then cover them with the breadcrumb-nori mixture. Use your fingers to gently press on them and make sure they are completely covered (you should not see the hearts of palm anymore). Transfer them on the baking sheet and keep going until you have used all of the hearts of palm.
- Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, flipping half way through. They are ready when they start to crisp and turn golden brown (don't bake too much or they will dry out).
Step 3: Prepare the other fillings + tortillas
When the vegan fish fillets are baking, then prepare the pico the gallo (I usually buy this healthy pico de gallo so I can skip a step), slice the avocado, warm up the tortillas (warm them in a large pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes on each sides) and make the spicy mayo if using (I simply combine vegan mayo with sriracha to taste).
Step 4: Assemble the tacos
Just go as you wish, but I like to layer the breaded hearts of palm and avocado over the tacos, then topped with the slaw, pico de gallo and drizzle some spicy mayo over. A final squeeze of lime juice and dig in!
Watch how to make it
Other serving suggestions
This is a very fun and highly customizable recipe! The combination of cilantro, crunchy green cabbage, pico de gallo and spicy mayo is def a favorite for us, but other awesome garnishes include: vegan tartar sauce, chipotle sauce, guacamole or vegan avocado crema, pickled red onions, spicy peach salsa, vegan sour cream, cucumber mango salsa, chopped tomato and sliced jalapeño. In any cases, serve these tacos with a homemade Mexican horchata!
Tips when making these vegan fish tacos
- As already mentioned, I highly recommend to start with the slaw before breading the hearts of palm. The lime juice and salt both help soften the cabbage and turn it into a more pleasant texture, which can happen while you are making the vegan fish fillets.
- Try to slice the cabbage as thin as you can for best results. If you need to, use your food processor to slice it or buy it already shredded.
- When breading the hearts of palm, keep one hand for dipping in the milk and the other hand for covering with the breadcrumbs, so your fingers don't accumulate too much sticky breadcrumbs. This will keep the breading step easier and quicker too.
- Use regular breadcrumbs as opposed to panko breadcrumbs. The hearts of palm are delicate and you are looking for a fine breadcrumb texture to create a dense layer surrounding the stems.
- Spicy mayo pro-tips: are you a huge fan of spicy mayo? Make a bigger batch, transfer in a drizzling bottle and store in the fridge. Then, you will always be ready for a poke bowl or burger last minute spicy touch. To do this, I love using these bottles that I use for many other sauces and make my weekly meal-prep more organized.
We usually eat all of the vegan fish fillets at one meal, but I did try to store them for testing purposes and although it was not as crispy, the flavors were still really good.
Keep any leftovers cilantro-lime slaw in an air-tight container for up to 4 days in the fridge.
In any case though, the taco fillings need to be kept apart from each other during storage.
I hope you enjoy these vegan fish tacos as much as we do! If you try them, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how they were. Your feedback is so helpful!
*THANKS TO MY SISTER SONIA WHO HELPED DEVELOP AND TEST THIS RECIPE*
Vegan Fish Tacos
- Food processor
For the vegan fish filets
- 14 oz canned hearts of palm - drained
- ½ cup regular breadcrumbs
- 1 nori sheet
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp sweet paprika
- ½ cup vegan milk
- ½ lime - juiced
For the quick cilantro-lime slaw
- 3 cups green cabbage - finely sliced
- ½ cup cilantro
- 1 lime - juiced
- ¼-1/2 tsp cumin powder
- salt - to taste
For serving (optional)
- pico de gallo
- spicy mayo
- corn or wheat tortillas
Quick cilantro-lime slaw
- Combine all of the slaw ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
Make the vegan fish fillets
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pre-heat the oven to 400º.
- Add the breadcrumbs, nori sheet, onion powder, paprika and salt to a food processor and process until fine. Transfer to a medium shallow bowl.
- In another medium shallow bowl, add the milk, lime juice and whisk (the milk might curdle, that's fine).
- Cut the hearts of palm lengthwise once or twice to end up with about 16 pieces.
- One piece at the time, dip in the milk, then cover with the breadcrumb-nori mixture. Gently press to make sure the hearts of palm are completely covered. Transfer to the baking sheet and keep going until you covered all the hearts of palm.
- Bake in the oven for 15 min, flipping half way through.
Build the taco
- Warm up the tortillas in a large pan on medium heat for a few minutes on each sides. Then, layer the breaded hearts of palm, cilantro slaw, pico de gallo, avocado and spicy mayo. You should be able to make 6 to 8 tacos. Enjoy!
- To make the spicy mayo, simply combine vegan mayo with sriracha sauce to taste.
- I like to start by making the slaw so the cabbage has some time to marinate and soften while I make the vegan fish fillets.
- Most 14 oz cans of hearts of palm contain 4 large stems that you can simply cut twice lengthwise, so you will end up with 16 pieces roughly of the same size. I did find some cans that also contained thinner pieces. In this case, then only slice the thicker ones so they are all about the same thickness (you should also end up with about 16 pieces).
- Keep any leftovers apart from each other in air tight containers in the fridge.
- Other great taco garnishes include: chipotle sauce, thinly sliced jalapeño, pickled onions, peach salsa and chopped tomatoes.
- You can make your own vegan tortillas for this recipe as well!