Whole Foods had their “One Day Sale” on Wednesday, like they always do, and yesterday, it was sustainably caught cod fillets. I like cod. I ate a lot of cod growing up and that was the fish in the fish and chips we would get back home. Since I don’t like to fry, I don’t usually buy cod for fish and chips. What has become one of my husband’s favourite seafood dishes is fish tacos. I like to use cod for my fish tacos.
Fish tacos are wonderful. I remember when I was in California many years ago for some work training, I passed by a restaurant that had a sign outside for fish tacos. I just remember thinking “Eeeew, nasty, tacos with FISH.” I think I was imagining ground up fish with some taco sauce inside a taco shell and that just didn’t sound appealing to me. For the longest time, I had no interest in making fish tacos. It must have been Food Network that changed my mind about them. I watched shows in which these celebrity chefs would be chowing down on fish tacos in California and they looked so good.
Fish tacos originated in Baja California, Mexico and even now, they are probably most popular in neighbouring California and the other western states. Nowadays, a few fast food fish taco places are popping up but they are still pretty uncommon in the South. Though, I think Wahoo’s Fish Tacos just opened up in Houston. I have tried Wahoo’s and they are good, but mine are better.
What’s in a fish taco? A firm fish, like mahi mahi, swordfish or a firm flaky fish like cod. Some people use tilapia and it works, if you like tilapia. I can’t stand tilapia; it tastes like dirt. Most commonly, the fish is battered and fried and then stuffed in a corn tortilla with some fresh salsa and sauce. That is one heavy taco! I like the waistline friendly, grilled or broiled fish with fresh, home made pico de gallo salsa and a lime chilli sour cream for drizzling. I like the corn tortillas but you can use flour ones like my children do. The corn tortilla adds another layer of flavour to the taco and it has a pleasant, chewy texture which is a nice contrast to the creamy fish and fiery, fresh salsa.
I generally just make a straight forward salsa fresca: onions, jalapeño, tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro. Fish goes very well with tropical salsas like mango or pineapple and even peach salsas. You can be very creative with these tacos. I make an easy sour cream sauce with lime juice and chilli powder but once again, you can let your imagination run wild. You can use guacamole, crema fresca (Mexican sour cream), chipotle cream sauce or even just some plain jarred salsa, the choices are endless. The other traditional ingredient in a fish taco is shredded cabbage and it really makes the taco. Yes, you can use lettuce, but the taste and the crunch of the cabbage is what you want. Once again it’s the symphony of texture and taste you are after: the toothsome and chewy corn tortilla, the soft, smoky fish, then the crisp crunch of the cabbage followed by the oozing, tangy sour cream and the fresh and vibrant salsa.
The quantity I have listed makes about 12-15 tacos, depending on how much fish you put in your taco.