notes from the mexican kitchen
Taco Tuesday/

A Fiery Feast: Grilled Catfish Tacos with Habanero Mayo

TacoTuesdayLogo_blueIt happens this time every year. My habanero plant is LOADED with those fiery, floral  chiles — way more than anyone could reasonably consume.

It might happen to you, too. Well-intentioned neighbors drop by with a basket full from their own gardens. Heck, even if you bring back a big handful from the grocery store, that’s probably too many.

So here’s how to make the most of them: make an easy roasted habanero-garlic puree, one that that’ll last for weeks in the fridge. Trust me, you’ll come back to it again and again.

This being Taco Tuesday, we’re going to make creative use of that puree. I’m mixing it with good-quality mayonnaise and slathering it on grilled catfish tacos. (Be warned: Too much spicy mayo may obliterate your palate.)

Still, I can’t think of a better late-summer taco. I think you’ll agree.

Tacos de Bagre Enpimeatado con Mayonesa de Chile Habanero


  • For the habanero puree
  • 16rawfresh habanero chiles
  • 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4tablespoon salt
  • 1teaspoon agave syrup or honey
  • 1cup mayonnaise
  • For the catfish tacos
  • 1pound (about 4) catfish filets
  • 2teaspoons black pepper, freshly cracked in a molcajete or freshly ground
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Zest of one lime
  • 12 warm corn tortillas


Make the Habanero Puree Set a dry skillet over medium heat. Lay in the unpeeled garlic cloves and chiles. Roast, turning frequently, until soft and blotchy brown in spots, about 10 minutes for the chiles and 15 minutes for the garlic. Cool until handleable, then slip the skins off the garlic, pull stems off the chiles and roughly chop (no need to remove the seeds).  In a small food processor, place the roasted chiles and garlic, apple cider vinegar, salt and agave syrup. Pulse the mixture into a coarse puree.

Transfer 1 ¼ teaspoons of the puree to a bowl, reserving the rest for future use. Add mayonnaise and stir to combine.

For the tacos Light a charcoal fire and let the coals burn until covered with gray ash but still very hot; bank the coals to one side and set the grill grate in place. Or, heat one side of a gas grill to high.

Sprinkle the catfish filets with salt and freshly cracked or freshly ground black pepper. Spray the filets with oil and place on the grill, cooking about 3 minutes per side.

Remove the filets from the grill. Using a sharp knife, cut the filets into bite-sized pieces and place on warm tortillas. Top with a dollop of the habanero mayonnaise and garnish with cilantro leaves and lime zest.


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