Try these memorable and flavorful parchment-roasted salmon tacos with pickled red onions, avocado and yogurt-lime crema. The salmon is covered with a garlic-spice rub and wrapped in parchment before baking, so it’s extra tender and juicy.
These tacos are a little more substantial than a street taco but full of delicious and complementary ingredients.
What makes a street taco?
Street tacos are traditional Mexican tacos. They are typically served on corn tortillas and are stuffed with meat. Traditional toppings include onions, cilantro, and salsa. There is no lettuce, tomatoes, or cheese in traditional street tacos.
One summer while I was in pursuit of my bachelor’s degree in Spanish, I lived with a friend and her family in Guadalajara, Mexico. The family had a maid, Perla, who made the BEST tortillas I’ve ever eaten, patting the masa into shape by hand and cooking them on a griddle. Perla did all the cooking, in fact, and we ate breakfast and dinner at home, but we typically ate lunch out in town.
Eating in Guadalajara
My friend and I would go out to explore the city where we’d eat at little cafe’s or buy fun street foods. Having grown up in Southern California where tacos in my household had crisp shells, ground beef, tomatoes, cheese and lettuce, I was surprised to find that tacos were served in soft corn tortillas, with usually just some delicately seasoned meat, such as pork, inside.
I remember foods in Guadalajara being served with crema, a delicious heavy cream, but that was on the side – and there were no tomatoes, no cheese, no greens in the tacos – and they weren’t spicy.
Street tacos today
Nowadays street tacos I’ve eaten in restaurants are more complicated. They are often served open-face on platters or wooden boards, slider-style. They feature a seasoned meat or beans, a wonderful sauce and a variety of savory toppings like pickled onions, radishes or cabbage. They are messy and fun to eat.
In Denver one of our favorite places is Dos Santos on 17th Ave. The cuisine there is from the Yucatan – try them if you live nearby!!
Fish tacos are often made with fried fish, but I love the texture and flavor of this baked fish, which is delicious in or out of the taco. If you want something in-between, try my almond-crusted steelhead or salmon.
For these parchment-roasted salmon tacos, start with a fresh fillet of either steelhead or salmon, season and bake it. The tacos each get pickled red onions and yogurt-avocado crema in addition to cabbage, avocado slices and the seasoned fish.
How do you parchment-bake the salmon?
- Option 1 (see below) Place the fillet onto a sheet of parchment paper, and spread the rub evenly onto it. Then cover the salmon with a second sheet of parchment paper and tie it with baking string. After baking, untie the string and test for doneness – we like it when it will flake with a fork on the edges but is still slightly pink in the center.
- Option 2 (a quicker method): place the fillet on a baking mat, or silpat. Coat with the spice rub as before, then cover the fish with a sheet of parchment. The rub should keep the paper in place. Bake for the same length of time.
While the fish is baking, make the avocado-lime crema – it’s easy.
And if you haven’t made the pickled onions until just this minute, they’re not bad as a 20-minute recipe. The onions just won’t have taken on that glorious pink color yet.
What other fish will work for tacos?
The truth is that almost any fish will work with this method, since you don’t have to worry about a very tender fish falling apart. Tilapia, opah, and mahimahi are all delicious this way.
We often substitute steelhead trout for salmon in this and other recipes. Though steelhead is a farmed fish, it doesn’t have the drawbacks of farmed salmon, which we never buy, because of farmed salmon’s high PCB content. If you haven’t tried steelhead, it is sustainably raised, tender and delicious.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #amealinmind on Instagram. I’d love to see what you come up with. Thank you so much!!
Other recipes you may enjoy
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Parchment-Baked Salmon Tacos with Yogurt-Lime Crema
For the spice rub and salmon
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 4 6- to 7- ounce pieces salmon skin-on
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the yogurt-lime crema
- ½ ripe avocado
- ½ cup full-fat plain coconut yogurt or dairy
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Up to ¼ cup water see instructions
For the tacos
- 12 corn tortillas more if you use 2 tortillas per taco
- 1 cup romaine lettuce or green cabbage shredded
- Avocado wedges
- Parchment-baked salmon
- ½ cup pickled sliced red onion
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
- ½ cup yogurt avocado crema plus more for the table
- 1 lime cut into wedges
- To make the salmon:
- In a small bowl, combine the spices.
- Parchment-only method: place the fish skin-side down on a sheet of parchment paper lining a baking sheet. Spread the rub mixture over the salmon on the flesh side only. Place a second sheet of parchment on top of the fish, fold in the sides, then the top and bottom to form a packet. Tie the packet closed using baking string.
- Silpat-parchment method: Place a silpat in the baking sheet and place the salmon on it skin side down. Coat the non-skin side with the spice-garlic rub. Gently press a sheet of parchment paper over the top of the fish so that it's completely covered and the rub holds the paper in place.
- Bake the fish at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until a thicker part of the edge flakes with a fork. (note: we prefer it slightly underdone, so it’s more tender - bake for longer if you like it thoroughly cooked in the middle)
To make the yogurt-lime crema:
- Blend all the ingredients in a hand-held food processor. Scrape down the sides to get all the small bits of the ingredients.
- If you want a sauce that you will drizzle, rather than spoon on, add up to ¼ cup water. I hate to dilute this tasty sauce with the water, which is why my “drizzle” looks like “fingerpaint”.
- This sauce is very customizable, and you could use half mayo and half yogurt if plain yogurt is a little sour for you.
To assemble the tacos:
- Soften the tortillas by your preferred method. We moisten the tortillas and warm them in a non-stick skillet on the stove-top until they are soft and flexible or microwave them in a single layer on a plate, about 40 seconds per 2-3 corn tortillas.
- Fill each tortilla with a bottom layer of crema, lettuce or cabbage, avocado wedges, pickled onion, and 2-3 tablespoons of salmon.
- Garnish with a sprinkle of cilantro, a drizzle of fresh lime and a drizzle of yogurt-avocado crema.
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