Swordfish is an extremely delicious taco filling that pairs amazingly with tangy tomatillo salsa. You will love the balance of sweet and tart in these tacos.
A little kick from the roasted jalapeño and the creaminess of the avocado perfectly complement the seared swordfish perfectly. Plus, you can have them ready and on the table in just 30 minutes!
Why this Recipe Works
The meaty swordfish strips are paired with creamy and smooth avocados which have a mild flavor, and also with a spicier, tangy tomatillo salsa which balances out with those milder flavors.
I offer instructions to pan fry or grill, making this recipe flexible for your preference.
Roasting or broiling your vegetables for the tomatillo salsa is a game-changer - the heat of the oven helps amplify the flavors and uplift the salsa. You can customize your level of spiciness by leaving out some of the jalapeños, leaving out the seeds, or adding more.
The swordfish has a mild taste making it the perfect base for the roasted salsa and a crowd pleaser. Everyone is going to love these tacos.
Ingredients & Substitutions
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Swordfish – This meaty fish is the preferred fish for this recipe. If you can't find it, feel free to substitute with another meaty, white fish.
White corn tortilla – My preference is white corn tortillas, but you could always use yellow corn tortillas, flour tortilla, or a gluten-free tortilla like a cassava flour tortilla.
Tomatillos – Your green tomatillos should be husked, cleaned thoroughly, and cut in half.
Note: My favorite thing to pair with swordfish is tomatillo salsa. You can always buy your favorite salsa available at the store, but if tomatillos are in season, consider making your own!
Onion – You can use either a small red or yellow onion. My preference in this recipe is red onion which is slightly milder.
Garlic – You will need whole garlic cloves that have been removed from the bulb, but not peeled.
Hot sauce – I personally love an extra kick of hot sauce on my tacos but you totally can leave it out if you want.
Oil – I usually use avocado oil. You can substitute with any other flavorless oil like canola or vegetable.
How to Make this Recipe
First, we will make the salsa, and then the swordfish tacos.
Peel the tomatillos and wash them thoroughly. Tomatillos have a stickiness under the husk that you need to wash off.
Place the tomatillos, jalapeños, onion, and unpeeled garlic cloves to a sheet pan. Lightly drizzle them all with avocado oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Broil in the oven for 5-7 minutes.
Note that piercing the garlic cloves makes them easier to peel after you broil them, and allows them to cook through.
Modifying the spice level of your salsa: If you like your salsa spicy, you can add an extra jalapeño to the oven. If you prefer your salsa on the mild side, use only ½ of a jalapeño.
Next, peel the broiled garlic so the papery outer layer is gone (they should pop out easily), and add all the ingredients to a food processor. Add in the juice of half of a lime. Pulse the salsa until the mixture is your desired level chunkiness.
Always taste it and adjust for the level of lime, salt, and pepper.
Drizzle the swordfish strips with avocado oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sear them in the pan, and make sure you get all the sides well seasoned and oiled.
Cook in a non-stick pan over medium heat for 7-10 minutes, making sure to get all sides, as shown.
You can easily grill the swordfish on a BBQ outside if you prefer too.
Heating the tortillas - Don't skip this step!
The biggest taco mistake you can make is forgetting to heat up the tortillas before serving. Heating tortillas actually helps to reduce their chances of tearing and makes them more pliable. Plus, it makes them taste better!
Heat them for a few minutes on the stovetop or in the oven before serving. I like to heat them directly on the stovetop flame, flipping them about 4-6 times.
You can also heat tortillas in the microwave. Just wrap them in a kitchen towel, and heat for 20-30 seconds at a time until they are warmed through.
Layer each taco as follows: 2 tortillas, ⅛ of the avocado mixture, 1 piece of swordfish, and then ~2 tablespoons of the tomatillo salsa. Serve with lime wedges and hot sauce, if desired.
The double tortilla is a street taco classic technique that keeps the tortilla base strong to prevent tearing. Trying to eat a taco while the contents are leaking out of your taco is no fun!
Swordfish is on the pricier end of fish because it's difficult to catch – they’re huge! – and therefore is more expensive per pound.
Swordfish is a mild, meaty fish. It has a dense texture and unfortunately is very easy to over-cook. When overcooked it has a chewy, dry texture.
There is a debate about whether or not swordfish is not Kosher. A fish needs to have scales to be recognized as kosher. Swordfish have scales before they reach adulthood, but do not have scales as adults.
Pescatarianism is when someone avoids eating meat and follows a vegetarian diet but they do allow the consumption of fish and seafood. Fish tacos and fish dishes, in general, are a great source of nutrition for pescatarians, as fish has a lot of protein and can help supplement a vegetarian diet.
More Easy and Delicious Fish Recipes
These are some of the most popular fish recipes on the blog, and some of my favorites.
Plus More Tempting Taco Recipes!
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Swordfish Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa
- 1 ½ lbs. swordfish cut into 8 strips ~1" thick
- 16 white corn tortillas
- 2 tablespoon flavorless oil like avocado, canola, vegetable
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 avocados skin and pit removed, smashed up in a bowl
- 1 lime cut into 8 wedges, for serving
- hot sauce optional
- 1 ½ lbs. tomatillos husked, cleaned, and cut in half
- 2 jalapeños stem removed and cut in half
- ½ red onion quartered
- ½ bulb garlic not peeled, cloves pierced with a pairing knife
- 1-2 tablespoon flavorless oil vegetable, or canola
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 lime juiced
- Add the tomatillos, jalapenños, onion, and unpeeled garlic cloves to a sheet pan. Lightly drizzle with avocado oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Broil for 5-7 minutes.
- Peel the garlic. Add all the ingredients to a food processor. Add the juice of ½ lime. Pulse until the mixture is your desired chunkiness. Taste and adjust for lime, salt & pepper.
- Drizzle the swordfish with avocado oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Make sure you get all the sides.
- To pan fry: heat your oil in a pan over medium to medium-high heat and add in the pieces of fish. Cook the fish for 2 to 3 minutes per side until they are cooked through.To grill: cook over direct heat for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, until cooked through.
- Layer your tacos as follows: 2 tortillas, ⅛ of the avocado mixture, 1 piece of swordfish, and then ~2 tablespoon of the tomatillo salsa. Serve with lime wedges and hot sauce.
This post was originally published in June of 2018, but was republished with new photos, step by step instructions, and tips October of 2019. It was republished again in June of 2022 with more tips.
I never had or cooked swordfish! But I'm not one to turn down tacos! Tried it with this recipe and they're great!
I'm so happy you branched out and made something new, Tisha! It's always a bonus when it comes out great the first time... great job!
This looks fabulous! So colorful and so flavorful! I appreciate your tip to lessen that heat as I love the flavors of salsa but not necessary the spiciness! We went for the spicy kick, and loved it all... thanks for sharing the recipe with us!
Oh wonderful! We opt for the spicier kick, too... glad to hear you liked!
I was looking for an easy recipe to serve Tacos for our upcoming adult party. Here we go... This Tomatillo Salsa was delicious. I am gonna make it again for sure!
So happy to hear it was a hit, Irina!
These are amazing and that tomatillo salsa is one I'll be making many times!
Glad to hear, Sapana! Enjoy!
SO FRESH SO HEALTHY. I also want to eat the salsa on everything!
So glad to hear you enjoyed it, Tilly! And I’m the same way... I put the salsa on everything... especially eggs in the morning. Enjoy!
Right?! My favorite thing to do with the leftover salsa is to use it on avocado toast topped with a fried egg... yum!