Skip to main content

The Bend Magazine

Grilled Fish Tacos with Cucumber Slaw, Basil Salsa, and Watermelon Granita

03/12/2021 05:31PM ● By Kayla Butts

By: Justin & Kayla Butts  Photos by: Rachel Benavides

You can use speckled trout, redfish, or flounder in your tacos, or you can use black drum, which is becoming increasingly popular. Black drum are easy and fun to catch, and you don’t need a boat to find them. We got our black drum filets from Charlie at Morgan Street Seafood, 1602 Morgan Street, Corpus Christi. The drum were caught that very morning and delivered to Charlie. You cannot get fresher fish unless you catch it yourself.

Grilling your fish to perfection is easy with a nonstick fish grilling basket. Your fish basket will fold over your filet on top and on bottom, gently holding the filet together. You can leave the basket on the grill to cook and easily turn the fish. CuisinArt makes an excellent grilling basket for less than $20. You can also grill shrimp, okra, and other delicate or smaller foods that would otherwise fall apart on the grill, or fall through the grate.

Cucumbers grow to vine-ripened perfection. Our favorite cucumber is the Market more variety--an excellent slicing cucumber. We picked red and orange bell peppers to give the slaw bright colors as well as a deeper flavor.

We prefer cherry tomatoes for the pico de gallo as they explode with flavor. 

Granita is a frozen dessert similar to Italian ice or sorbet, except with granitas the ice crystals are larger and coarser. Granita is popular in Italy, where every little town has their own unique version. We served our granita on a Turkish coffee serving platter, but you can also serve your granita in the hollowed out watermelon rind.

These dishes are perfect for a deck party, or for an easy weeknight meal for the family. We picked the produce for these recipes fresh from the garden, and the fish was caught the same day. When the ingredients are this fresh, you can keep the recipe very simple, and let the flavor of the Coastal Bend shine through.

The tacos are delicious and healthy, and the granita may be the best guilt-free dessert you ever taste—you will not believe how sweet and good they are. Feel free to go back for seconds, again and again, and enjoy these flavors.


Serves 4

Prep time: 

25 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes


4 corn and flour blend tortillas 1 lb fresh black drum, filet
Salt and pepper, to taste
1⁄4 cup olive oil

Cucumber slaw, see recipe Basil pico de gallo, see recipe


First prepare cucumber slaw and basil pico de gallo (see recipe) to allow flavors to develop while fish cooks. Preheat grill. Brush fish with olive oil and season liberally with sea salt and pepper. Place fish in a grill basket. Grill over low direct heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Garnish with slaw and pico de gallo. 



1 cucumber, grated (Market- more variety recommended)

1⁄4 sweet bell pepper, grated 1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 large pinch salt


Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to develop.



1 cup tomato, diced (sweet cherry tomatoes recommended)

1-2 jalapenos, seeded and minced

1⁄2 cup onion, diced (1015 variety recommend)

1 tbsp lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small bunch basil, chopped


Combine ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Let rest for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to develop. 



Serves 12

Prep time: 15 minutes

Inactive prep time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Cook time: 2 minutes 


3⁄4 cup water 1⁄2 cup sugar

7 cups watermelon, peeled and cubed

4 tbsp lime juice, or juice of 2 limes

Small bunch fresh sweet basil (about 6 large leaves) 


Place 9x13” glass or metal dish in freezer.

Place water and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Simmer while stirring with a whisk until all of sugar is dis- solved and liquid reaches a syrup consistency, about 2 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Combine watermelon, simple syrup, lime and basil in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Pour watermelon mixture into cooled pan and place in the freezer. Using a whisk, stir mixture every 20 minutes, until desired consistency is reached. Enjoy immediately after serving.