Fish Fillets with Epazote Leaves, Onion and Habanero Peppers + All About Epazote

by Spicie Foodie on August 5, 2014

Today I have another super simple meal to share with you: Fish fillets cooked with sautéed epazote leaves, onion and habanero peppers. Before we get to the recipe I’d like to introduce you to epazote.

Epazote Leaves and Recipe Ideas by @SpicieFoodie | #MexicanFood #epazote #herbs

Epazote is an aromatic herb used in Mexican cooking with a very distinct scent and taste. You may know this herb as wormseed, pigweed or goosefoot. Native to Mexico, Central and South America it has a deep and prized history in the region.; But outside of Mexico in places like Europe, Asia and the US, epazote is treated as a weed and/or a pest in gardens…Too bad.

Mexicans have long been using epazote for it’s medicinal properties and to give food a unique taste. Most people use the herb in beans, where it is added to yield a unique flavour as well as help tone-down flatulence caused by the beans. Additionally epazote may be added to quesadillas, soups, sopes, tamales, enchiladas and mole — I love it in mole!

Epazote Leaves and Recipe Ideas by @SpicieFoodie | #MexicanFood #epazote #herbs

The scent and taste of epazote are ones that you’ll either enjoy or find repugnant –similar to the cilantro debate. I’m on the enjoyable side. When I pick up a leaf of epazote I smell an herb with a wild weed scent. Other people say they smell turpentine, while others disagree and say the scent is a lemony one. I find the taste of raw epazote to be herby, peppery and astringent in the same way that arugula can be. Many others disagree and say they can’t get past the strong turpentine smell and taste. As you can see this is truly an herb that you must smell and taste for yourself to see if you’ll become a fan.

Fresh leaves or bunches of epazote may be purchased at your local Mexican or Latin American food stores. If fresh cannot be found then dried will also work. If epazote is new to you I suggest starting off with one leaf then working up to the flavour you find most pleasant. According to this article, “The older leaves have a stronger flavor and should be used sparingly. Younger leaves have a milder, yet richer flavor.” As for dried epazote I find it to have a milder taste and scent, but it still works great when I’ve run out of fresh.

As previously mentioned there are so may ways to cook with epazote, below is the recipe for this delectable fish fillets.

Epazote Leaves and Recipe Ideas by @SpicieFoodie | #MexicanFood #epazote #herbs

5.0 from 3 reviews
Fish Fillets with Epazote Leaves, Onion and Habanero Peppers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Give fish fillets a uniquely Mexican flavour by using leaves of epazote to flavour. Don't forget the habanero pepper for that spicy kick!
Recipe type: lunch, dinner
Cuisine: Mexican, Seafood, Fish
Serves: 2
  • 2 fillets of firm fish of choice (any white fish and fresh or defrosted will work)
  • 6 small and thinly sliced epazote leaves without the stems*
  • 1 extra small white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 green habanero, optional or replace with milder pepper like Serrano or Jalapeño
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • fine sea salt, to taste (I used a large pinch)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • freshly squeezed lime juice, optional
  1. Pat dry the fish fillets and set aside. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat, once warm add the onion slices and habanero peppers. Saute until the onions begin to soften and the peppers begins to blister. Next add the garlic slices and epazote and sauté until the garlic begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Make sure to keep stirring to prevent the ingredients from burning. Push the vegetables aside, or if they are starting to brown remove from the pan. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and gently place the fish fillets into the pan and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Allow to cook for 5 minutes then flip the fish and place some of the cooked vegetables onto each fillet. Continue to cook until the fish is firm and cooked through, about another 5-8 minutes. (Cooking time will depend on thickness of the fillets.) Right before serving drizzle with fresh lime juice. Serve with sautéed broccoli and warm corn tortillas if desired, or alternatively serve with your favourite green vegetable or starch.
*Please remember that if epazote is a new flavour to you to use one or two small leaves. If fresh is not available dried may be used, start off with a large pinch and work yourself up from there.

**To make this dish for four people simply double the fish and other ingredients.


Fish Fillets with Epazote Leaves, Onion and Habanero Peppers by @SpicieFoodie | #fishrecipes #epazote #habanero #quickmeals

The meal was really good! The flavours all complimented each other well, and epazote was not over-powering at all — in fact I consider it to be even more mild then arugula, which I like, both of them. I really hope you give epazote a try and to encourage you below are a few links to recipes using epazote. Enjoy!

Frijoles de Olla: How To Make A Pot of Mexican Beans by @SpicieFoodie | #beans #mexican #cookingbasics
Frijoles de Olla: Making A Pot of Traditional Mexican Beans (vegan)

Frijoles Refritos: Mexican Refried Beans (vegan)
Bean Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Ancho-Guajillo Chile Sauce (vegan)
Tequila Epazote Limeade by Vianney of Sweet Life
Gluten Free Squash Blossom and Epazote Quesadillas by Fearless Dinning
Split Pea Soup with Ham, Bay Leaves, Epazote and Red Bell Pepper (or Carrots) by Kalyn’s Kitchen
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup by Eating Well
Green Chard & Shiitake Tacos with Epazote by Taste with the Eyes
Mole de Olla: Not Your Typical Mole by Ericka Sanchez on mom.me
Plantain and Black Bean Bites with Cotija and Crema Drizzle, Chicken Enfrijoladas and Sweet Corn Esquites by Nibbles & Feasts

in Fish/Seafood,Food Facts,Herbs,Mexican

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rosa August 5, 2014 at 6:57 AM

A refined and succulent dish! I’d love to taste those leaves.




2 Spicie Foodie August 5, 2014 at 2:34 PM

I hope you can find them there Rosa — perhaps growing in the wild!:)


3 Sandi Gaertner (@sandigtweets) August 5, 2014 at 2:16 PM

This is a great article to introduce people to Epazote. Thank you for including my squash blossom and epazote quesadilla recipe!


4 Spicie Foodie August 5, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Thank you Sandi and loved your quesadillas.


5 Gourmet Getaways August 6, 2014 at 4:07 AM

I love cilantro so I’m sure to love epazote. Fish needs to be matched with zest or tang, so I’m good with this dish! Thanks for sharing, Nancy!

Gourmet Getaways


6 John@Kitchen Riffs August 6, 2014 at 10:56 AM

When we lived in Texas, I could always find epazote in the grocery store. Now, I have to go to a Mexican market to find it. It’s good stuff, and I love how you’ve used it here. Thanks.


7 Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today August 6, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Thank you, I didn’t know epazote.


8 mjskit August 6, 2014 at 9:50 PM

Epazote is something I’ve seen around here, especially as the Mexican markets, but I had no idea how to use it. Now I do! You’ve given me quite a few ideas now that I know more about it. thanks!


9 Juliana August 7, 2014 at 4:06 PM

I have never heard of epazote leaves…but I know that I will like since I like cilantro…sounds really good with fish. Great recipe Nancy!
Hope you are having a great week :D


10 Ramona August 10, 2014 at 10:37 AM

I love all the new ingredients you are introducing me to here. This fish sounds really delicious. :)


11 Sandra August 11, 2014 at 3:39 PM

I love learning about unique ingredients Nancy and you’re a great teacher. Thank you!


12 Spicie Foodie August 11, 2014 at 6:50 PM

Thanks so much, Sandra. I’m glad you enjoy it as much as I do sharing them.:)


13 Sandra August 11, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Please forgive me if this is a duplicate comment. It’s so nice to learn about new ingredients and you are an excellent teacher.


14 Gauss August 13, 2014 at 7:05 PM

Thank you for this recipe! I cooked it tonight with some tilapia filets and the mixture of onion, garlic, hot pepper and epazote was delicious. I have been growing epazote for a while, as it’s really easy to grow and it self-seeds easily, but I wasn’t sure what to do with it besides beans. I will definitely cook this again!


15 Spicie Foodie August 13, 2014 at 7:14 PM

My pleasure! I think it’s wonderful that you grow your own and use it in beans. Thank you and keep enjoying all these great ways of using epazote.


16 Victoria of Flavors of the Sun September 17, 2014 at 10:40 AM

I grow epazote, just for beans, Honestly, I never thought to cook fish with it. I so love to find something new and inspiring, as I always do with your blog.


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