I wrote this post on July 4 of 2011 because I had decided to experiment with a good recipe that tasted like the wondrous fish tacos I first enjoyed. So instead of making this an archive post from MirePoix Vegas, I decided to post it like it’s new!
Some 30 years ago, my young family and I (and Mom) went to Mexico. We drove through Tijuana and ended up in Ensenada. We paid a kid a whole dollar to “guard” the car, and we wandered to the shopping district. While there, we happened past a cart where an old woman was selling fish tacos. “Fish Tacos????” At that time, I’d never heard of them, but at 25¢ each, I figured I give it a try.
Is that the chorus of angels?? It was one of the most ethereal moments of my life, and I scarfed down about five of them in rapid succession.
The recipe was simple: whitefish dipped in a relatively plain batter, quickly deep fat fried, then placed in a soft, warm corn tortilla and topped with cabbage (cabbage?!?), salsa, and a mayo-based sauce as a topping.
At any rate, that was in the early 80s, and I didn’t see any other fish tacos for years in the US. Fast forward to the 2000s and suddenly I started seeing fish tacos everywhere! And didn’t find any that were as simple and delicious as those I had at the little cart in Ensenada.
You can find fish tacos just about anywhere. Unfortunately, every fish taco on any menu and every recipe I’ve seen have veered away from the beauty of the simple ingredients. And while they’re delicious, none of them is as good as the simple basic recipe. In fact, the only difference between my homemade nuggets of deliciousness and those that I had at that little cart is the fat I used for frying. I used an olive oil/canola blend that I purchased at Smart N Final instead of the original lard. “Health,” you know. And I added the cheese. Just because. Had to make up for not using lard.
For this recipe, I used cod fillets dipped in a basic beer batter and fried till golden. Uber-fresh tortillas from Cardenas quickly heated in an unoiled cast iron pan were the perfect carrier for the fish, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo (multi-onion pico de gallo – yum), queso fresca, and a dollop of mayo/lime juice/chili powder sauce. No sour cream.
The great thing about this dish is that it’s quick and easy to make. The hardest thing is waiting for the oil to heat up for frying the fish!
Onions (all kinds!)
Salt to taste
Very, very easy to do and delicious.
Oh … one more note! Eat the tacos immediately. They’re best when the crust is still crunchy and hot.
Suggested wine pairings – Pinot Grigio, unoaked Viognier, Muscadet