The Microwave: Baja Fish Tacos

Sunday February 1, 2015

What made you want to put together a microwave cookbook?

I had been working on a number of counter top appliance cookbooks…bread machine, rice cooker, and slow cooker. And they were extremely popular. the microwave was the next logical appliance. I wanted to explore the capabilities of the machine beyond popcorn, hot chocolate, and reheats. I was pleasantly surprised that the microwave does many jobs even better than stove top or other methods.

How often do you cook with a microwave?

Everyday. It is an essential tool in my kitchen. My last microwave broke and I had to get a new one. I was amazed how much I missed it and how dependent I had become on it. I didn’t realize until I did not have it right there next to the stove.

What are the benefits of microwave cooking?

Speed, safe in dorm rooms since there is no open flame, cooks with minimum heat outlay, cleanliness, lower electric bills due to conservation of energy, food retains its natural flavor and nutrients.

What in particular do you think tastes good in the microwave? Either an ingredient that works well and/or a recipe.

Cooking fish in the microwave is the optimum method of cooking for all methods. Eggs surprisingly also cook great. Vegetables in a flash. And of course oatmeal and other cereal grains. Small batch soups and sauces.

Baja Fish Tacos

Fish tacos from the microwave start to finish? Yes. And the fish is perfect too. Fish tacos are no longer a regional Mexican secret. Homemade is just as good and people are wild about them. Use a snapper, halibut, swordfish, tilapia, or salmon for best results. You can use a small rectangular or square Pyrex dish or CorningWare SimplyLite Bakeware, which is the lightest ceramic microwave-proof casserole ever that comes with a domed glass lid with handle ( The 1 1/2-quart, 12-inch square is perfect for cooking two fish steaks or filets. You will need to have your condiments ready and waiting for when the fish is cooked, so do those first, then you are ready to assemble and eat. The topping list here is a suggestion. You can simply have shredded lettuce and salsa and be fine. This recipe is fantastic!


Cookware: 7-x-11-inch Pyrex or ceramic baking dish
Microwave Wattage: 1,100 to 1,300
Cook Time: About 3 minutes for the fish and 60 seconds for the tortillas
Standing Time: None

Serves 4


Condiment Choices for the Fish Tacos

Chunky Guacamole (recipe follows)

Salsa Mexicana (Fresh tomato salsa-recipe follows)

Chopped fresh cucumbers

Hot sauce

Sour Cream

Shredded Monterey jack cheese

Shredded iceberg lettuce

Chopped cilantro or cilantro sprigs

Lime wedges

The Fish

1/2 white onion, chopped

1 whole jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced

3 tablespoons water or chicken broth

1 1/2 pounds (1-inch thick) white fish filets (no bones)

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Pinch or two of pure chile powder, such as Ancho or New Mexican red chile powder (optional)

8 to 12 fresh corn tortillas


1. Prepare and assemble your taco condiments. This can be informal as what you have around in the refrigerator right out of plastic storage containers to a more formal buffet setting everything out on the counter or on the table in serving dishes.

2. In the baking dish, place the onion and chile and spread out over the bottom of the dish, then add the water or broth. Arrange the fish filets in a single layer on top and rub in the olive oil on the top surface. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a bit of chile powder. If ends are thin, tuch them under to make an even layer. Cover the baking dish with a layer of paper towel. Microcook on HIGH for about 3 minutes for a 1-inch thick filet, until the fish flakes. Remove from the oven.

3. Wrap the stack of tortillas (you can do 4 at at a time to have piping hot ones at all time) in a slightly damp plain white paper towel. Place in the microwave and microcook about 60 seconds.

4. Portion the fish and some of the vegetables onto 4 dinner plates. Add some lettuce onto the warm tortilla, then place some of the fish on top. Add a squeeze of lime and then layer your condiments . Eat immediately.  Warm 4 tortillas at a time.

Chunky Guacamole

Serves 4

3 ripe avocados

1 plum tomato, diced

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

1/2 serrano chile pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced

2 limes, freshly squeezed

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Peel and pit the avocados and place in a small mixing bowl. Gently mash with a fork. Leave the pits in the bowl (this is a Mexican secret to help slow the oxidation process).

2. Fold in the tomato, onion, and chile pepper, leaving the avocado kinda chunky. Season to taste. Squeeze the lime juice over the top. Serve immediately or cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.

Salsa Mexicana

Serves 4

3 large ripe tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored, seeded, and diced in 1/4-inch pieces

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely minced

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, stir well, and let stand at least 1/2 hour at room temperature before serving. The salsa can be made and refrigerated, covered, up to a day in advance. Drain off excess liquid and season to taste with salt before serving.

Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Microwave Cooking, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2010, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2015

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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