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Gretchen McKay's Shark Tacos

Looking for a fun take on a summer classic? Instead of making fish tacos, try this recipe for shark tacos!

Grilled Shark Tacos
PG tested

To really sink your teeth into your "Sharknado" viewing party, you could put some sort of shark dish on the menu. Henry Dewey, owner of Penn Avenue Fish Co. in the Strip District, suggests grilled shark tacos. He starts by marinating the fish steaks in a spicy Bengali-style curry, then grills, broils or pan-fries them. Toppings include shredded cabbage, tomatillo (green) salsa and a squirt of sriracha for heat.

Never cooked shark before? No worries, so long as you follow this one golden rule: "Make sure the fish is fully cooked," he advises. "Undercooked shark is NOT delicious."

Also of utmost importance is to buy a sustainable variety. The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program, which helps consumers choose seafood that's fished or farmed in ways that protect sea life, recommends spiny dogfish from California, Oregon and Washington as a "Best Choice." Common thresher and shortfin mako sharks caught in California and Hawaii are listed as a "Good Alternative."

If you're afraid to try shark, don't advocate killing it or simply can't find it (I got it at Wholey's in the Strip District), substitute any other thick steak fish such as monkfish, mahi-mahi, tuna or salmon.


1 pound shark steaks (or other firm fish), 1-inch thick

  • For marinade:
    1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed mustard seed
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • Cracked black pepper and sea salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

For tomatillo salsa:

  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 pounds fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

8 flour tortillas, warmed on the grill or in microwave

1 cup finely shredded green cabbage tossed with 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro and a pinch of salt, for serving

Sriracha for serving


An hour or so before cooking fish, preheat broiler then prepare salsa. Put chiles, garlic and fresh tomatillos, if using, on a rack of a broiler pan and broil 1 to 2 inches from heat, turning once or twice, until softened and partially charred, about 8 minutes.
Peel garlic. Discard stems of chiles. Puree tomatillos, garlic and chiles with remaining ingredients in a blender until almost smooth. Place in refrigerator to cool. (Salsa can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated, covered.)

Mix all marinade ingredients together in a shallow dish. Sprinkle fish with sea salt and place in marinade for 15 to 20 minutes. Shark steaks should take on nice yellow color from the marinade. You also can cut fish into large chunks to put on skewers.

Grill, broil, or pan fry fish until cooked through and fish flakes easily with a fork, about 7 to 8 minutes on each side. Let rest for a minute or 2, then flake apart with fork.
To serve, place shark in warm tortillas, and top with shredded cabbage, chilled salsa and sriracha.

Makes 8 tacos.

-- Adapted from Henry Dewey, Penn Avenue Fish Co.

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