Game and Fish Tacos from ‘The Sporting Chef’

The sky is the limit with what you can put in a taco! Scott Leysath from ‘The Sporting Chef’ lays out 5 of his favorite taco recipes, because every day should be Taco Tuesday

By: Scott Leysath, "The Sporting Chef"

This year, Cinco de Mayo falls on a Friday, a perfect day to launch a weekend celebration with an extra margarita or two. You can always sleep in a little longer on Saturday and rest up for what may end up being a weekend party. Of course, there will be tacos.

You just can’t help but notice that tacos are pretty much everywhere these days. From fast food to fine dining, tacos stuffed with just about anything you can imagine have a home on restaurant menus across the United States. Surprisingly, at least to me, tacos are not on the current list of the Top Ten Favorite U.S. Foods. The Top Four include burgers, hot dog, Oreos and fries. I’m a burger fan, but my family eats way more tacos than burgers.

When you celebrate Mexico’s stunning victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla this year, break out an assortment of your harvested fish and game and treat your friends and family to a taco fiesta. Whatever you have in your freezer beats the heck out of the local restaurant’s fish tacos made with tilapia that was raised in questionable waters in southeast Asia. Or swai. It’s a catfish-like fish raised in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Virtually no controls over how they are raised or the cleanliness of the water they inhabit. Be safe. Make your tacos with fish and game you caught or shot yourself or show your support of American commercial fishermen and shrimpers who do a much better job of bringing healthy, quality seafood to your table.

For the perfect taco fiesta, I recommend serving some of these tasty game and fish tacos:

Slow-Roasted Venison Shoulder, Onions, Cilantro and Lime

The Sporting Chef Slow Roasted Venison Tacos

(Photo courtesy of “The Sporting Chef”)


Cube up some venison shoulder, give it a good rub with your favorite Southwestern Seasoning (mine is Hi Mountain Fajita Seasoning) and then throw it in the slow cooker with a can of diced tomatoes. When you get home from work, the meat will be done. All you’ll need to do is add some chopped sweet onion, cilantro leaves, a big squeeze of lime and pop the cap off your favorite frothy beverage.

Grilled Pheasant Breast

The Sporting Chef Grilled Pheasant Tacos

(Photo courtesy of “The Sporting Chef”)


Keep the kitchen cool and the grill hot with these flavorful pheasant tacos. Marinate boneless pheasant breasts for a few hours in olive oil, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno peppers, cumin, salt and pepper. Grill until just done, but not overcooked and dry. Lightly coat corn tortillas with olive or vegetable oil and slap them on the grill a few minutes before the pheasant is done. Load pheasant onto tortillas and top with tomato, cucumber, grilled pepper, cilantro, avocado and anything else that makes you happy.

Shredded Duck

The Sporting Chef Shredded Duck Tacos

(Photo courtesy of “The Sporting Chef”)


Soft flour tortillas stuffed with slow-cooked duck that was marinated with olive oil, onions, lime, Tabasco, chili seasonings and garlic. Once marinated for several hours and then browned, place the ducks in a roasting pan. Add a can of Mexican beer, cover with lid or foil and place in a 300-degree oven for 4 to 5 hours or until the meat pulls off the bone easily. Toss the shredded meat with salsa and pile the meat into tortillas with a copious amount of cilantro leaves and shredded Jack cheese.

Fried Walleye

The Sporting Chef Walleye Tacos

(Photo courtesy of “The Sporting Chef”)


Take one of the best-eating fish in the world and lightly coat it with breadcrumbs before frying it until golden brown. Add red onion, grapefruit or orange segments, cilantro and a creamy sauce that won’t overpower the delicate fish. To make the sauce, combine 1/2 cup each plain yogurt and mayonnaise. Add a pinch or two of ground cumin and cayenne pepper, some chopped fresh dill, the juice of 1 fresh lime and salt to taste.

Dorado (Mahi-Mahi) with Mango and Cotija Cheese

The Sporting Chef Dorado Tacos

(Photo courtesy of “The Sporting Chef”)


Lightly coated with olive oil, salt and pepper, dorado fillets are grilled over a smoky fire. On deck, there’s fresh mango, tossed with salt and lime, fresh cilantro, red onion, soft corn tortillas and Cotija cheese. Simple, delicious and with flavors that enhance the great taste of line-caught dorado. Use the same recipe with any medium-firm fish.