Sunday, June 20, 2004
Is My Blog Burning #5 - Fish Tacos
First, I need to apologize for Still No Pictures - I ordered a Canon digital camera and it's taking a very slow bus across the country to get to me.
I was introduced to fish tacos by my brother, who lives in Southern California, where Rubio's has a large presence and just about every other Mexican place nearby sells them. It is a dish which deserves to be more widely known and I was pleased to see a variant in the latest issue of Fine Cooking.
The traditional Ensenada- or San Felipe-style fish taco is quite different from the standard American Taco Bell hamburger-in-a-crispy-shell: batter-coated and deep-fried firm white fish chunks, finely shredded cabbage, salsa fresca (of the pico de gallo type), and Mexican crema (sour cream like, but more liquid) in one or two soft corn tortillas. I head over to the nearest Rubio's when I want one of those, because I don't deep-fry in my kitchen, but the principle is useful.
When I make fish tacos, I use bite-size chunks of firm white fish which has been marinated in the juice of several limes* for about half an hour. Keep one lime in reserve for garnish and cut it in wedges. I like swordfish, but swordfish is overfished, so I usually have halibut, which is widely available here on the Pacific coast. (Tuna is not a white fish but would probably be excellent.) Then I cook the fish on skewers on my grill (traditional) or in the oven until it is done.
Shredding the cabbage and salsa production (or warming to room temperature) is a good thing to do while the fish is cooking.
The tortillas should be heated up briefly in a dry cast-iron frying pan. For commercial corn tortillas it is safer to "double up" for each taco.
To assemble - pile the cooked fish and the cabbage into the tortilla(s), garnish with salsa and crema (you can thin down sour cream) to taste, and serve with a wedge of lime.
* If limes cost the earth at your regular grocery, try to find a Latin or Asian grocery for a better deal. "Key limes" work just fine if you have them, indeed I have been told that they are the usual lime in Mexico.
Apologies to the audience in parts of the world where you can't get corn tortillas regularly ... it's not quite the same with flour tortillas, so if you want a nice Mexican fish dish, a spicy-sauced shrimp cocktail with avocado or some nice piece of white fish prepared "a la Veracruz" (tomatoes, various peppers, olives, peppers, capers - check out web recipes for "Snapper Veracruz") served with rice and beans would probably be a lot easier to do.