San Juan del Sur Inspired Fish Tacos

The past few weeks (maybe months?) have certainly been giving me a run for my money. Peaks and valleys, highs and lows. When you’re on a roller coaster, you don’t exactly get lulled to sleep by the waves.

But you certainly know you’re alive.

I find myself both attracted to and repelled by these points of inflection, these moments of truth. There is certainly an energy buzzing about. Sometimes the energy takes the shape of fear, sometimes excitement.

Either way, sleep is hard to come by.

It is against this backdrop that I resurrected an old practice. What I do is this…If I am headed into a make or break moment—opening a school admissions letter (or maybe I am dating myself and that’s done via email today. Or text.), going into a job interview, walking into a “we should sit down for this” relationship talk—I do this thing where, beforehand, I write myself a letter. I imagine I have been doing this for a very long time, writing letters to myself. Long enough that I no longer remember the beginning. No matter. I address a letter to my future self to remind her that, regardless of the outcome, she is still made of a good cloth, solid clay. She will be okay. 9 times out of 10 I never re-read the letter. But, that 1 time… That one time, when I walk out the other end of that moment, if things have come crashing down around my ankles, I read the letter. It helps stop the debbie downer thoughts from spinning away. Maybe I’m not good enough, and will never be good enough, and of course I wasn’t accepted, hired, loved. The letter reminds me otherwise.

I don’t know if other people do this, my husband tells me maybe they don’t. But it helps.

Although so might chocolate and shopping. 

Or fish tacos.

This recipe was inspired by a trip I took with a whole boatload of friends a few years back. We went to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. In my mind, the trip highlights can be reduced to this: awesome friends, mind blowing fish tacos. 

We stumbled across this small fish taco shack on the beach. I use the word “shack” generously. It was one plastic folding table, a cooler filled with fish and fixings, and a hibachi grill. It had the best tacos I have ever tasted. These ones come in a close second, and are quite a bit safer, assuming you’re using properly refrigerated fish. Enjoy!

I am off to write a letter. Wish me luck!

San Juan del Sur Inspired Fish Tacos


  • 1 pound tilapia, or another white, flakey fish
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup corn, cooked
  • 1 cup cabbage or other such ruffage
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 chili pepper (fresno, jalapeno, or serrano will do), chopped
  • Fresh salsa, for garnish
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • 4 whole grain tortillas


  • Place fish in a shallow dish. Mix olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, cumin and chili powder and pour over fish, turning fish over to make sure both sides are coated. Let marinade for at least 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the other toppings and set aside.
  • Warm tortillas in the oven or on an oiled frying pan. Place a dish towel over tortillas to keep them warm while you’re cooking the fish.
  • Heat grill to medium high, brushing grates with olive oil to prevent the fish from sticking. Place marinated fish on grill, being careful not to wiggle the fish around too much, lest you get unsightly grill marks. Cook for 3 minutes then flip. If you have a instant read thermometer (which you really should get!), take fish off the grill when the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, you will have to eye ball it, removing fish when it is white and opaque all the way through. This will likely take another 2-3 minutes.
  • To build your taco, slice or break apart fish into 4 even servings and place atop a warm tortilla. Top with fish, onion, avocado, corn, cabbage, bell pepper and chili pepper. Garnish with salsa and cilantro.
  • Enjoy!

food for thought

The two sides of our nature are at war with each other. We live in perpetual self-confrontation between the external success and the internal value. And the tricky thing, I’d say, about these two sides of our nature is they work by different logics. The external logic is an economic logic: input leads to output, risk leads to reward. The internal side of our nature is a moral logic and often an inverse logic. You have to give to receive. You have to surrender to something outside yourself to gain strength within yourself. You have to conquer the desire to get what you want.In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself.

David Brooks

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