~ Totally Undeserving of the James Beard Award

~ Completely Undeserving of the James Beard Award ~

Friday, March 14, 2014

Baja Fish Tacos

It is said the original fish taco originated in San Diego, California…this cast-in-stone fact everyone agrees to.

Unless you believe the cast-in-stone fact they originated in Ensenada, Mexico.

Some swear by the grilled fish version, and although very good and most likely a bit healthier, it appears to me a more accurate version is the battered and deep-fried version.

Whichever way you lean, fish tacos are one of the best ways to bring out a bit of beach bum in all of us. Up here in Seattle, I swear when the sun decides to make an appearance it is quite common to see grocery store shoppers putting tortillas, salsas, limes and a fish monger wrapped package of fresh fish on the check out stand conveyor belt.

So what type of fish? I believe that because you are going to mask and put layers of flavors, salsas, etc. on your taco and deep fry the thing…no need to take out a second mortgage and buy halibut ($19.00/lb.) or mahi mahi (14.00/lb.) or swordfish ($17.00/lb.). All that wonderful fish would be much better served…and eaten!...grilled, to really enjoy those dollar signs.

Go for something in the sole family or rockfish or even catfish. I usually get about 1 pound for 3 people.

Alright, let’s get into it, shall we?...

But first...a little appetizer for the family while I get things prepped...


This is going to be a "Coctel de Mariscos" or shrimp cocktail…obviously Mexican influenced, fresh, a bit spicy…and really easy to scarf one down.

First dice up some avocado…

...place it is your serving bowls (or even use margarita glasses) and toss in some chopped cilantro...

...add a small handful of cooked baby shrimp. Make sure it's fresh smelling...sometimes I rinse them in a strainer first. I doubt you will find them truly "fresh" as most I have seen have been previously frozen.

Now for the sauce. Here you can really get creative. I used V-8 juice, worcestershire, hot sauce, lime juice and a bit if lime zest. You could ramp it up with chili powder, cumin, garlic, clam juice or clamato...heck, even beer (Michelada con Camarones) or a splash of tequila.

Then, simply pour it over the shrimp mixture and enjoy! Just make it your own...add other veggies like celery, bell peppers, pickled peppers, tomatoes...whatever.

Okay...back to the tacos...

I am going to first dredge the fish then batter it. Just some flour and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. This flour mixture will help the batter stick to the fish.

I have seen beers which include coconut in it and I have always wanted to try this in a beer batter for fish tacos.

Some more flour in a second bowl with the beer, just add flour and beer until you get a batter which is slightly runnier than pancake batter. The beer will be leavening agent to poof up the fried fish coating…and YES, "poof up" is an authorized culinary term!

Cut the fish in to 3 or inch pieces…toss them in the flour dredge, shake off excess and plop them into the batter.

I have a deep fryer...set at 350º F. These will go fast so watch them. When they float to the surface and turn golden brown they are ready.

Set them on a rack to drain.

Toppings are at the ready, from upper left I have some wonderful cojita cheese, a hard crumbly cheese similar to parmesan in flavor, cilantro, salsa verde, Cholula hot sauce, Tabasco green hot sauce (wonderful stuff), fresh pico de gallo, avocado, lime wedges and cabbage.

I usually make a blend of mayo, sour cream and chipotle peppers with some of the adobo sauce to squirt on...but not this round.

The family digs in to assemble their perfect combination.

Excuse me now while I stuff my face.

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