Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Crispy Fish Tacos

Almost three years ago now I got the opportunity to go to Blog'her in San Diego California. My first time at a conference, my first time on the west coast and the longest I'd ever been away from my kids. Side note: I came back from the trip and a month later found out I was pregnant with kid #4. My husband used to joke that if the baby came out with a surfer tan I was in big trouble. Back to the trip... it was amazing! The sun, the beaches, the ocean, and the fooooooood. OMG the food. San Diego is right next to Tijuana, Mexico. Mexican flavours permeate the food in SD. 

It was on a poolside patio at the fabulous hotel I was staying at that I ordered my first fish tacos. It always sounded kind of gross to me, I pictured fish tossed with taco seasoning and smothered in shredded cheese, and fish does NOT go with cheese. 

I had no idea. 

But sitting there, by the pool full of happy tanned people, a stone's throw from the ocean, it just felt like the right thing to order. 

I got my plate of 3 little fish tacos and had it not been for the fact that I was sitting at a table with a bunch of people I barely knew and I didn't want to embarrass myself, I would have ordered 2 more plates. They were so fresh, and light, and crispy, and just the yummiest tacos I've ever had. Well, that is until I came home and started working on my own recipe. It took me about a year to get all the components tasting like they did that day by the pool in California, but I think I've got it!

Now, I've seen people use frozen breaded fish sticks, an ingenious solution for those nights you just need to get dinner on the table in a hurry, but I promise you, you will not regret making the fish by hand. And the same for the tortillas. Store bought will do the trick, but this tortilla recipe was given to me by a friend by way of her husband's Mexican grandmother. It's straight up legit


The best part of this meal is that my whole family LOVES it, which quite frankly shocked the hell out of me. Try this once and I guarantee it'll quickly become a family favourite at your house too!

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Crispy Fish Tacos

For the Pico de Gallo:

3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped into small pieces
1/2 a lime, juiced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
A small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

1. Mix the tomato, lime, onion and cilantro in a small bowl.
2. Season to taste with salt.
3. Set aside to allow the flavours to incorporate.


For the Cilantro Lime Crema:

1 cup premium quality sour cream (I like Gay Lea Gold Sour Cream) 
1 tbsp lime zest
1/2 lime, juiced
1 small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

1. In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, lime zest, lime juice and cilantro until well combined. 
2. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


For the guacamole:

(Side note, I like my guacamole creamy, if you like a chunkier guac, you can just mash with a fork)

2 ripe avocados, pitted and scooped from skin
1 lime, juiced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tsp Tajin*
1/4 cup red onion, minced
Salt to taste

1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the avocado and lime juice and pulse until the avocado is broken down into small chunks.
2. Add the garlic & Tajin and purée until it has reached your desired consistency. 
3. Scrape the guacamole out into a bowl and add the onion and season with salt to taste. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate covered until ready to use.


For the tortillas:

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups of hot water

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the first 4 ingredients until incorporated.
2. Slowly start pouring in the water as the mixer mixes on low speed.
3. Allow the dough to mix for 7 minutes. Then turn off the mixer and allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes.
4. Separate the dough into 16 equal portions.
5. Heat a cast iron pan over high heat (I set my burner to 9) with nothing in it (ie no oil or butter)
6. Roll out the balls of dough on a floured surface until they are about 1/8" thick.
7. Add a round of dough to the frying pan (one at a time) and all ow to cook on each side for about 10 seconds a side.
8. Keep warm on a plate in the oven, set on a low temperature) covered in a damp tea towel, or in a tortilla warmer.


For the fish: 

2 cups milk
1/2 lime juiced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked chipotle powder (optional)
2 large cod fillets
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 cup flour
Seasoned salt
1 tsp cumin
2 cups panko crumbs
Oil for frying

1. Mix together the 2 cups or milk, the lime juice, the cumin, the chipotle powder and a wee bit of salt and set aside.
2. Cut the cod into strips about 2-3" long. Think fish stick size.
3. Add the fish to the milk mixture and set aside. 
4. In a small bowl, add the flour and salt and cumin and set aside.
5. In a second bowl, mix the eggs and 2 tbsp of milk and set aside.
6. In another small bowl add the panko crumbs and set aside.
7. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or a deep pan on the stove to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Take a strip of fish out of the milk mixture and roll it in the flour until it's coated on all sides. Shake off the excess.
9. Dip the floured fish in the eggs and them roll in the panko until the fish is coated on all sides.
10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until you have 4-6 strips done.
11. Place the breaded fish carefully in the hot oil and cook for about 7 minutes* or until the coating is golden brown. (If you cut your fish thicker this can take longer. You can use a thermometer to check for doneness or cut into a piece and check and then adjust your cooking time accordingly)
12. When the fish fingers are cooked remove them from the oil and place on a wire rack set over a cookie sheet and place in the oven to keep warm.
13. Repeat steps 8 to 12 until all your fish fingers are cooked.
For an authentic fish taco, place a piece or two of fish in a tortilla and top with cilantro lime crema, guacamole, pico de gallo, shredded cabbage (I use bagged coleslaw mix), and thinly sliced radish.

*Tajin is a spice that is commonly used in Mexico. It has a chili lime flavour. My sister originally brought it back for me from Mexico after a missions trip there and she has since found it for me in Ottawa, Ontario. I imagine it can be found in most city centres if you poke around a bit. You can also order it online. Google it :)

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