Baja Fish Tacos
I confess. If you had asked me, oh say, ten or twelve years ago, if I liked fish tacos, my answer would have been a very firm “No.” The fact that I had never had a fish taco at that time would have been irrelevant. I am from Minnesota you see, and we do not generally cover our fish with a lot of fixings and flavor cover-uppers. The fresh taste of walleye straight out of the lake and fried up that same day cannot be beat. Period. I am, as I have said before, my Father’s daughter. The thought of drizzling it with sauce and lettuce and cheese just made me shudder. In fact, it kind of still does. I had no clue that the quintessentially traditional fish taco is actually made with Wahoo or Mahi Mahi. Not exactly the daily catch in our 10,000 plus lakes.
When I moved to San Diego, everything changed. They were everywhere! I couldn’t get away from them! Between the street vendors, fish taco restaurant chains, and seeing them tacked onto every menu of every other restaurant like some kind of west coast requirement, I figured I better try one. I mean how sad would it have been to move back to the Midwest and say I never had a fish taco?! Sad.
So one day, standing at the end of a pier and staring out at the Pacific, (Oh! How I miss the Pacific!) my grumbling stomach deemed it necessary to purchase a fish taco from the weather beaten shack that was sharing my space at the end of said pier, looking like it would disintegrate into the ocean any moment. Technically it was a lobster taco and not a fish taco, but it was made the same way, with simple spices and a light topping of some kind of zesty sauce-thankfully, used sparingly- shredded cabbage and a bit of cheese. And it was sooo gooood. Nothing like I though it would be. It was so fresh and so light and so absolutely scrumptious, I decided then and there, as the seagulls threatened to dive bomb me in the hopes of getting a bite, that this was in no way breaking the sanctity of fresh fried lake fish. Instead, it was entirely different, hardly related, and perfectly safe to obsess over.
Fast forward a dozen years or so and I find this recipe for tilapia fish tacos in a Cooking Light magazine. So I try them, beating my family off with a spatula because they tried the fish right out of the pan and then ate so much we couldn’t actually have them for dinner that night. The fish is so good, it is like slap-your-thigh-roll-your-eyes-to-the-heavens kind of good. With my pregnancy making my stomach extremely unpredictable these days, I was just waiting for the right time to make them again. Yesterday, when I went to the store to get milk, I walked past the most beautiful Tilapia fillets I had ever seen. I didn’t even pause but turned to my 2 year old and said, “I MUST make fish tacos tonight!” And so I did. I discovered a few things along the way. Leftovers, something we didn’t have the last few times I made these, are fantastic. Cold from the fridge makes this fish great for lunch at work the next day, so make a few extra fillets. Second, a little acid takes the flavor of these tacos from fantastic to over the moon great! Don’t forget a squeeze of lemon or lime. Trust me on this one. The fact that these can be made in a matter of minutes makes them a great weeknight meal. The Pacific in the background is completely optional.
Beautiful tilapia fillets, seasoned and ready to go! One Year Ago: Pork Roast W/Mustard & Peach Glaze
Baja Fish Tacos
Adapted from Cooking Light
As I mentioned above, these tacos are even better with some kind of acid. If you add a splash or two of lime juice (bottled is just fine) to a large scoop of sour cream and stir until smooth, you have the perfect accompaniment. A finely minced jalapeno in there is great too! It cools the spice just a bit and cuts through the richness of the fish. It really makes a difference! If you aren’t a sour cream person, a squeeze of lemon or lime over the fish just before you eat it will also do the trick!
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4-8 tilapia fillets
Mix all the dry ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle the fish fillets evenly on both sides. Saute in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until JUST done. Three to four minutes on the first side and only about 2 minutes on the second side. Serve in small corn or flour tortillas with avocado, tomatoes and finely shredded cabbage if you have it. Don’t forget the lime sour cream too!