Fish tacos have been on my dinner plate for three consecutive days and on my mind even longer, but blogging has taken a back seat to the World Cup. This is my first attempt to “speed blog” and get a fish taco post up before the next soccer game in one hour. I think I can do it.
From what I have read about fish tacos, I learned they became popular on menus in Baja, and spread to the mainland of Mexico, perhaps following the tourists. Fish tacos prepared in the Baja style are now all over the west coast of Mexico. This way of preparation involves an easy beer batter, sliced cabbage, pickled onions, avocado salsa, and thin mayonnaise and sour cream salsa. I’m sticking to tradition, except for substituting chipotle tartar sauce for the mayonnaise salsa, which is lackluster in taste when compared with the zing of chipotle chile.
At the La Cruz Fish Market, Martin recommended Chocho when I asked for a fish for tacos. Chocho? He saw me hesitate, but assured me it was a great choice. I had never heard this name before and don’t know what it is called in English. Here’s what it looks like.
Whatever it is, Martin always steers me right, and this was no exception. The fish was perfect for tacos, with great texture and flavor. If I can learn the English name, I’ll include it later. You probably won’t find chocho in your market, so ask your fish monger to make a recommendation. Please refer to the web page for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch (see Links at top of page) for guidance in purchasing sustainable seafood choices or to The Pescatarian’s Dilemma.
Remember to trim out the dark strip of meat down the center of the fillet if it is present. Not all fish have this, but the mystery fish called Chocho does.
Baja Style Fish Tacos 12 tacos, serving 4 to 6
The elements for this recipe are chipotle tartar sauce, pickled onions, sliced cabbage, avocado salsa, corn tortillas and battered, fried fish. Garnish with lime wedges and chopped cilantro.
Chipotle Tartar Sauce — Double the recipe found on the page for Fish Sandwiches.
Avocado Salsa — Process one avocado with canned, pickled jalapeños and pickling liquid in a blender until smooth. How much jalapeño and liquid is your call, depending on the heat level you like. I used about 1/3 cup jalapeño with liquid, plus a few tablespoons of water to thin the salsa. (This reminds me of the story in one of Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher’s books about someone on the east coast of the U.S. receiving a box of avocados from California before they were well known in the east. She discarded all but the seeds, boiled them for hours, and then reported to the sender that they never did become tender.)
Pickled Onions — Peel and thinly slice one red or white onion, or both for an attractive color combination. Bring a small pan of water to a boil. Turn off heat, add onion slices for 30 seconds only, then drain immediately in a colander. For each cup of sliced onions, add 4 tablespoons of cider or white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of water, 1/4 teaspoon of Mexican oregano and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Vinegars can vary in their acidity, so test to see if your pickled onions need more water or vinegar to suit your taste. Stir to blend and let sit at room temperature for one hour or longer before serving.
Sliced Cabbage — Blend two cups of thinly sliced cabbage, green or red, with the juice of one small lime and salt to taste.
Prepare lime wedges, sliced tomato and chopped cilantro for garnish.
Beer-Battered Fish Fillets
- 1 lb. (1/2 kilo) boneless white fish fillets, cut cross-wise if necessary so they are not more than 3/4″ to 1″ (20 – 25 mm.) thick and cut into 3″-4″ (75 – 100 mm.) length pieces
- 1 cup (240 ml.) beer
- 1 cup (240 ml.) sifted flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 12 warm corn tortillas
- Pour oil into a skillet to a depth of about 1/2″ (12 mm.) and heat until shimmering.
- Stir together beer, flour and salt.
- Coat fish pieces well with batter.
- Fry for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden. Drain on paper towels.
Time to assemble your tacos. Game time! Buen provecho!
Today’s catch at La Cruz Fish Market