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May 15, 2020

Wahoo's Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw {copycat}

These copycat Wahoo's char-grilled fish tacos are fresh and flavorful, combining influences from Mexico, Asia, and Brazil.

Wahoo's Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw on a plate

Wahoo's Tacos was first opened in 1988 in Orange County, California by three brothers of Chinese descent who grew up in Brazil (their parents fled there from communist China). Fast forward, the family eventually came to California and opened up a Chinese restaurant in the 1970s.

The oldest brother, Wing Lam, is well known in Southern California as the spokesperson for the restaurants, often speaking at events and appearing on my favorite LA food talk show, The Fork Report. I religiously listen to it while cooking like crazy on Saturdays.

The food at Wahoo's is kind of a fusion between Baja California, where Wing used to surf while in college, Asia (with the special chili sauce), and Brazil (white rice and black beans). Plus, the food is so fresh and delicious.

(I haven't done a lot of copycat taco recipes, although these old school tacos could be compared to the Jack In The Box tacos we all loved at the end of an evening during college.)

Ingredients for Wahoo's Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw in bowls

Components in these tacos:

Along with the grilled fish, these tacos include a mixture of cheddar and jack cheese, some Chili garlic sauce (I like the Huy Fong Foods brand), citrus slaw, and pico de gallo.

In addition, I made some spicy green sauce to add to the tacos. While Wahoo's version of the recipe is super secret, my favorite version of the sauce combines fat free mayonnaise, cilantro, parsley, canned chopped jalapeños, vinegar, and salt and pepper. It's delicious.

For the citrus slaw, toss together some coleslaw blend, red onions, cilantro, lime juice, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.

Wahoo's citrus slaw in a bowl

Wahoo's fish tacos always are served with black beans and white rice, an homage to the Lam's Brazilian upbringing.

If you want to "meet" Wing Lam, check out this video...

These fish tacos are super easy to make once you have all of the components. I took a few liberties in that I threw together the best of Wahoo's in these tacos.. the fish, the slaw, the chili sauce, the green sauce, the pico de gallo, the cheese.

At Wahoo's, you always get a double layer of corn tortillas, but you can always skip the extra tortilla if you prefer.

Wahoo's fish tacos in hand

I also tried these ingredients in crispy home-fried corn tortillas, and the results were delicious.

Fish Friday Foodies

Copycat Restaurant Recipes

Hosted by Sue Lau

Wahoo's Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw {copycat} 

Wahoo's Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw with all of the ingredients

Wahoo's Grilled Fish Tacos

Yield: 4 tacos
These copycat Wahoo's char-grilled fish tacos are fresh and flavorful, combining influences from Mexico, Asia, and Brazil.


For the Citrus Slaw
  • 2 ounces coleslaw mix
  • 1/2 ounce thinly sliced red onions
  • 1 teaspoon minced cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
Green Sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon minced canned roasted jalapeños
  • 2 tablespoon fat free mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For the Tacos
  • 8 ounces fresh mahi-mahi, Wahoo, or other white fish
  • Garlic salt
  • Oil for brushing the grill
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 to 2 ounces freshly grated cheddar and Monterey jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup chili garlic sauce
  • Citrus slaw
  • Green sauce
  • Fresh pico de gallo


To Make the Citrus Slaw
  1. Mix the slaw ingredients in a bowl. 
To Make the Green Sauce
  1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender and pulse to combine. 
To make the Tacos
  1. Season the fish filets with the garlic salt. 
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan, and brush the grill grates with oil. 
  3. Grill the fish 2 to 3 minutes per side. 
  4. Cook the tortillas over an open flame on your stovetop or on the grill. 
  5. Assemble the tacos by adding the fish, cheese, chili garlic sauce, cabbage, pico de gallo, and green sauces. 
  6. Serve with white rice and black beans. 
Fat (grams)
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fish, tacos, copycat

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Would you like to comment?

  1. These sounds SO fresh and delicious! I can't wait to try them!

  2. I just love the flavor profile on these tacos. Asian/Mexican/Brazilian great is that!!!

  3. When we lived in Brazil, we discovered that beans and rice (the preferred color of bean depended on the region of Brazil) were present at every meal or Brazilians did not consider it a full meal. Even lasagna! And, obviously, fish tacos too. Your tacos are bursting with deliciousness, Karen!

    1. Thanks for the perspective! That reminds me of Lomo Saltado in Peru. Even though it has potatoes, you still need to serve it with rice!

  4. That looks so deliciously fresh and tempting!


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