Sheet pan fish tacos topped with tangy, probiotic rich fermented red onions are a match made in heaven!
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Beach days, rock hunting, & fish tacos…
We made it. Our feet were grounded on the Lake Michigan shoreline all weekend, and we couldn’t be more full of joy! While we spend most of our spring and summer days with our feet in the soft, powdery sand of our hometown shoreline, we do love to beach hop to some special places along Lake Michigan with a more rocky landscape so that my rock hunters can find special treasures! My oldest has become quite the geologist in the last few years, with such a love for collecting different rocks and fossils. And my oldest also couldn’t think of a better way to re-fuel after our first spring beach day than fish tacos!
The obsession began a few summers ago…
We were enjoying a rare to us night out at a restaurant after a long, hot beach day, and my oldest, who was about 6 at the time, ordered fish tacos. They were just about the biggest hit you could ever dream of for her, and she still talks about them to this day. They had the avocado crema, mango salsa, and those pretty little pickled red onions sprinkled on top – the works! She was obsessed, and I just knew I had to duplicate them for our menu rotation after that!
The real deal “pickled” red onions
Quick little refrigerate pickled red onions are great, and truly is nothing wrong with them, but what if there was a way to make them the “real deal” way? Instead of pickling them in vinegar for the sour punch, letting nature do it’s work with a little sea salt and water, and allowing the natural, good bacteria in the vegetable ferment the onions to tangy perfection – the way your ancestors would have preserved and “pickled” onions! And let me tell you…the tangy, sweet, salty, crunchy red onions make *the* best fish taco topping!
A quick fermentation 101
It’s as simple as making a little salt water brine to suspend your onions, a clean, air tight space to allow the science to happen, and a little time. When you add the salt water brine to vegetables, the good bacteria in the vegetables starts eating away at the natural sugars in the veggie. The lactic acid left behind from this veggie sugar metabolizing gives the vegetable a tart, tangy taste, and is also just so amazingly good for our bodies! It is a great way to keep beneficial bacteria in our gut flora (probiotics), and it balances stomach acid.
Ok, so what do I need to get started fermenting my onions?
While you can definitely get your ferments going today with just glass jar and a plastic lid (metal lids will corrode over time so plastic is recommended), as you get going you may want to take a look at fermenting tools that make the process even easier and stress free.
Vegetable ferments do best in an anaerobic environment (that is, “no oxygen” using an air tight seal). Plastic lids work fine, though some air does get through, and as the gasses build up in the ferment you need to “release” them by opening the lid here and there. The air that gets through also makes it easier for stray airborne microbes and molds to get in which can make the whole jar go bad.
There are a couple of sealing options you can choose from, and I really have found these to give the best fermenting results. The one that I use is the first recommendation, the Pickle Pipe.
- The Pickle Pipes & Pebbles :: I am convinced a busy, “every day” mom invented this fermenting tool! Talk about zero fuss, *easy to clean,* and affordable! The Pickle Pipe creates a seal with a simple (easy to wash!) silicone disk, and the metal ring your jar comes with. The “pipe” part of the silicone disk has a special opening that only pressures open when the gasses build up in the jar and need to be released. So basically…set it and forget it! You don’t have to check for pressure everyday at all. I also am in love with their Pickle Pebbles which weight down the ferment at the top so you don’t have to worry about molding or the tips of the veggies going bad from being out of the brine. Invaluable! I have never had a ferment go bad or mold using my Pickle Pipes and Pebbles.
- Fido Jar :: Fido jars create an incredible anaerobic sealed environment and are super easy to clean and take care of. No crazy parts to clean, and they are beautiful lined up in the kitchen to ferment! You will need to “burp” these every day or so to let the gasses out but they work very well! They are pricier than mason jars (especially if you already have a lot of mason jars at home, and can just get some Pickle Pipes to top them off), but they will last forever and, again, they are beautiful!
- Traditional Fermentation Crock :: I have to be honest…I love these! I really do! They are on my foodie dream list and when I can afford a really beautiful new fermenting crock I really, really want one for my kitchen! They are gorgeous, easy to clean and work fantastic. They come with a weight to keep the veggies down to prevent molding and they create a perfect anaerobic environment.
- Air-Lock Lids :: These are a really great, inexpensive option – especially if you already have a lot of mason jars at home. I think the Pickle Pipes are easier to clean and use, but if you have some of these lying around don’t let them go to waste – they work great!
Do the kids like them?
Well, 2 out of my 3 give these little onions 2 thumbs up. My youngest is still warming up to them, but onions are strong in the first place, and probably aren’t a great fermented food to start out with for really little guys. My suggestion for littles and fermented foods is to start out with fermented carrots and sauerkraut. Sour pickles and fermented asparagus are fantastic options that are kid friendly too. I also loved this recipe for Ranch Dressing made with Kefir (a style of fermented milk) to dip your veggies in! The littles will love it, and you can feel good about what their gut being nourished. All in all, be inspired to give even the smallest of children in the house a try of fermented foods. My girls were eating small shreds of sauerkraut and shredded fermented carrots by the age of 9 months old, and developing that taste palate is priceless.
Fermented onions first, then onto the tacos!
So grab a mason jar and get some fermented red onions going! Then plan a fish taco night into your menu plan this month and just wait until you see how fun fish taco night is! Here is the recipe for the fermented onions, and the tacos will follow.
Probiotic Rich Fermented Red Onions :: The Perfect Topping for Fish Tacos, Salads, Wraps, and More!
- 1 pint warm water
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 large red onion sliced
- 1 tsp sugar optional
- Dissolve the sea salt in the warm water.
- Put the sliced red onions and sugar into a mason jar, packing them in tightly.
- Pour the salt water brine over the onions leaving a half inch to inch of headspace at the top.
- Add your fermenting weight over the onions in the brine to be sure the onions stay submerged. If you do not have a weight, just be sure the onions are completely submerged in the brine or you will get molding.
- Put your fermenting lid on the jar (I use pickle pipes) and leave in a warm space in your kitchen on the counter or in a cupboard for 1-3 weeks. You can taste the onions along the way to get your preference of tartness. If your house is warmer, it will ferment faster, and if your house is cooler, it will take longer. Everyone has a different taste for fermented foods. Your fermented onions should smell oniony and taste pleasantly tangy/sour. The longer you ferment the more beneficial bacteria will be present. I ferment my onions around 3-4 weeks if it is winter time and cooler in my house, and it takes more like 2 weeks in the very warm summer months.
But getting back to those fish tacos!
A couple months back, I had dinner with some friends at a local restaurant. It was all about conversations that didn’t revolve around slime, school work, or Hatchimals; glasses of wine, and great food – it is such a necessity of mom life to do this! One of my friends and I ordered the fish tacos, and, after we quite literally devoured them, I had a renewed desire to get a fun, family friendly fish taco recipe to the blog!
Sheet pan prep for busy families
…Because fish tacos on a Wednesday night is just the bees knees, and I promise it will be *the* thing that gets you through the rest of the week. Just a quick slice through some wild caught white fish, a toss through some taco season of your liking, and 10 minutes at the most in the oven. That is weeknight dinner at it’s best.
What kind of fish?
Any wild caught white fish will do, though we have certainly enjoyed fish tacos with wild caught salmon! Use whatever your family likes to eat. We pick up wild caught mahi-mahi, cod, and salmon at Costco. We also have a local fish monger that has the fish here and there. Check around where you live, and ask! Fish mongers are always happy to tell you about where their fish comes from!
Fish Taco Bar topping ideas!
- Shredded cabbage or lettuce
- Fermented Red Onions (Recipe is below!)
- Raw cheese or goat cheese
- Shredded carrots (or ease your littles into the fermented topping idea by using shredded fermented carrots – my youngest eats them this way)
10 Minute Sheet Pan Fish Tacos
FOR THE FISH
- 4 fillets of white wild caught fish such as cod or mahi mahi Cut into strips, or bit sized chunks if you have little ones at home.
- 3-4 tsp taco seasoning I use my own taco season mix.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line your baking sheet with Silpat, or spray with avocado oil spray, or lightly grease with butter or coconut oil.
- Toss the cut up fish with the taco season and spread the pieces of coated fish onto the sheet pan. Bake for 10 minutes. If you made smaller pieces for little kids, you will have a shorter cook time.
- Serve on your favorite tortillas with toppings of your choice!