Skip to main content

How to make some very tasty, very autumnal tacos, according to a pro chef

Need a taco recipe that'll satisfy you through the fall months? Here you go

Fall stands for a lot of things, from foliage and darker beers to comfort food and sweaters. It also stands for a different kind of taco, one that fully embraces the bountiful season. After all, there’s no bad time of the year for the taco, but some are more seasonally appropriate than others.

We reached out to chef Jesus “Chuy” Cervantes of Damian. He’s the chef de cuisine at the Los Angeles restaurant and offered an outstanding fall-inspired recipe for fish tacos. That’s right, fish tacos. They’re not just for the dog days of summer, people. Born on the beach, they can be tweaked for the offseason as well, and in creative, decidedly delicious ways.

The fall-ness is in the details. The recipe calls for some genuinely earthy colors, afforded by unique additions like nori. The ponzy adds a tart and sweet element that functions a bit like a vinaigrette and really ties everything together. The cabbage adds a nice touch and is about to be in peak-season throughout most of the U.S. The resulting tacos will comfort, which is what fall is all about, while hinting at the brighter seasons you long for this time of year with the summer accents offered by chiles and cilantro.

The ultimate fusion tacos, this recipe blends Japanese and Mexican cuisines. We love it on its own but it’s also great with a light beer or bright wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc. Shoot, mix up a tequila drink and give it the autumn treatment.

Don’t have bass? Try grouper, mahi-mahi, red snapper, or even tilapia. Oh, and put some effort into your sauce selection. “Go to your local Japanese market and ask for a nice artisanal soy sauce or ponzu, it will make all the difference in seasoning your tempura,” Cervantes says of the dish, below.

Fall Fish Tempura Tacos

Fall tempura tacos from Damian in Los Angeles.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This is a recipe that will quickly become one of your favorites when making tacos. As a fine restaurant worker, chef Cervantes has some plating advice as well. And because we’re dealing with tacos, there’s an order to the building process. He suggests placing the tortillas on a warm plate, with a slice of avocado on each. Top the avocado with a piece of fried fish and then garnish it with cabbage, chiles, and cilantro. Serve them up with lime and some ponzu sauce. Still hungry? Cap it off with a nice fall dessert idea.

Prep time: 15 min

Total time: 25 min

Yield: 4 tacos


  • 240 grams clean striped bass or similar fish
  • 2 sheets of nori
  • 1 ½ cups rice flour
  • 2 cups soda water
  • ¼ head of cabbage
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 serrano chile
  • ¼ bunch of cilantro
  • 2 limes
  • Salt to taste 
  • 4 tortillas
  • Soy sauce or ponzu as needed
  • 2 liters frying oil


  1. Pre-heat the frying oil in a deep pot to 350 degreed Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the fish by cutting the loin into 60-gram strips. 
  3. Prepare the nori by splitting the two sheets in half.
  4. Layout each nori sheet separately, brush lightly with water, then lay each piece of fish in a sheet of nori. Roll the fish over until wrapped all the way around and cut away any excess. Reserve the fish. 
  5. Prepare the tempura batter by whisking together 1 cup of rice flour and 2 cups of soda water.
  6. Use the remaining ½ cup of rice flour to lightly dredge the fish prior to dipping in batter.
  7. Prepare the garnishes by thinly slicing the cabbage and serrano chiles, picking the leaves of cilantro and slicing the lime into wedges. 
  8. Prep the avocado by slicing into 4 even-sized slices, reserve until plating.
  9. Dip the prepped fish in the batter, coat completely and slowly drop into the hot oil. 
  10. Allow the fish to fry until you’ve accomplished a light golden color. About 2 minutes. 
  11. Once ready, remove the fish from the oil, season with salt and rest on dry paper towels to allow the excess oil to drain. 
  12. Prepare the tortillas by heating on a flat griddle or large pan. Reserve warm in a tea towel.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
10 classic summer cocktails everyone should know how to make
Enjoy the rest of your summer with these incredible, classic cocktails
Tatyana Vega/Unsplash

We’re in the middle of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and while temperatures (and amount of sun) are different depending on where you live, there’s a good chance you’re in need of some liquid refreshment. And while a nice glass of wine or frosty beer is sure to hit the spot, we’d rather enjoy something with layers upon layers of fresh, seasonal flavors. We’re talking, of course, about summer cocktails.

And while we have no problem enjoying a white Russian while we stream The Big Lebowski in our backyard, a classic whisky-driven old fashioned on an unseasonably cool evening, or even a hot toddy if we’re feeling a little under the weather, summer is a time for lighter spirits and fresh ingredients. All in all, it’s a time for refreshing cocktails well-suited for sipping on a hazy, humid (sometimes unbearably so), sunny day.

Read more
You might want to steal this pro chef’s ‘Jesus juice’ for use in your home kitchen
No matter where you land on the religious spectrum, Jesus Juice is your new savior
preserved lemons and oil tips on cooking olive lemon

Every now and then, you might find yourself watching a cooking video, or hell, a how-to video about anything, really, and suddenly — bam — there's a genius tip that will change your life forever. A tip so good that you're mad you're only just getting the information. This is one of those tips.
How to Cook Perfect Scallops Every Time
In a recent YouTube video, Chef Will Murray of London's Fallow restaurant demonstrates how to perfectly cook scallops. And while his scallop cooking lesson is wonderfully informative, it was his finishing touch that really caught our attention. In one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments, Chef Murray finishes his perfect scallop with what he calls...Jesus Juice. No mention as to why exactly it's been named Jesus Juice, but we like it, and we're keeping it.
The quirkily named condiment, he goes on to say, is a mixture of pickled lemon juice and rapeseed oil that can finish just about any dish.
Intrigued, we decided to try Jesus Juice for ourselves, and it's not an exaggeration to say it was the best decision we've ever made.
By mixing one part pickled lemon juice with one part oil (Chef Murray calls for rapeseed oil, but any neutral oil will work just as well), you're creating a condiment that can be splashed on just about any dish for an immense boost of texture and flavor. The perfect balance of zingy acidity and fat combine beautifully on seafood, chicken, pork, steak, salads, or absolutely anything else that just needs a special touch.
At this point, you may be wondering where pickled lemon juice comes from, and we're here for you. Just like anything else in the produce section, lemons can be pickled. The result is a zippy, complex, pleasantly sour, intensely lemony ingredient that can be used in an array of both savory and sweet dishes. The pickled lemon juice is what remains in the jar with the lemons, and it makes for an incredibly delicious and versatile ingredient. This is our favorite preserved lemons recipe so that you can try Jesus Juice for yourself.

Pickled lemon recipe

Read more
How to make the perfect Paloma drink, a summertime favorite
Want to make the best version of a classic Paloma cocktail? Here's how
Paloma cocktail

Step aside Margarita, the Paloma is the real drink of Mexico. The zesty cocktail is delicious any month of the year but it's especially mouthwatering on a hot day. In a situation such as this, we like to pick the wise brains of cocktail gurus like Alicia Perry and Garret Dostal. Perry used to make incredible drinks at Polite Provisions and now work as a drinks guru at Consortium Holdings. Garrett Dostal is a cocktail consultant and brand ambassador for Hiatus Tequila.

"In terms of the Paloma cocktail, I am really looking for a cocktail that is juicy, acidic, and thirst quenching," Perry says. She adds that there are three major components at play -- the tequila for the Paloma, citrus, and soda. "In the process of creating my perfect Paloma I found that specific Blanco Tequilas were either too dominant, or were not able to stand up to the ingredients of the cocktail," she says. "Fortaleza Blanco allowed for subtle notes of citrus, agave, and vanilla to be well represented in the cocktail."

Read more