To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I’m giving you a recipe for fish tacos that are delicious and relatively easy to make. Like a stir-fry, you really just have to get all your ingredients chopped and combined , then it’s a matter of assembly. The chopping and combining become easier as you go along, and indeed faster, because your mouth will start watering and you’ll simply just HAVE TO HAVE IT! (Always good for speeding up the cooking process).
I used sea bass in this case, which turns into a lovely moist and textured flake for these tacos. The fish is flaked after cooking and placed on top of a bed of finely sliced cabbage combined with fresh coriander (cilantro), scallions, lime, sea salt and black pepper. Then some salsa fresca (fresh tomatoes finely chopped, cilantro, scallions, chilli, sea salt and black pepper), guacamolé (fish and avocados…oh yes, absolutely…bring it on please), red onion slices marinated in red wine vinegar, and sour cream on top. All wrapped in a soft corn tortilla…as I’ve told you before so easily obtained now at: (www.mymexicanshop.ie) . This is the perfect dish for trying to make your own corn tortillas as a too thick/too thin attempt will go relatively unnoticed here, and you can better your skill as you go on. I actually steam the tortillas for this recipe, but that’s because I like it in one comforting soft bite with the crunch appearing through the cabbage layer. ( Prepare to have a shower after this meal if you eat anything like I do with this food. Hands on job, or it doesn’t taste the same ;-)…you might take a moment to feel sorry for David here, who has to sit opposite me and watch me stuff my face….actually on second thoughts no, he’s actually very lucky. Anyway the above website sells masa harina too, which means you can have the ability to whip up some tortillas at any time.
So first you need to prepare your fish fillets. I used 4 sea bass fillets…because after I have food from my childhood, or collegehood I should say in this case…nearly lived on them, I need to have them again the next day..even as a cold left-over. One sitting is just not quite enough for me!! The second tasting is like pinching myself to make sure it’s ‘for real’. I marinate them in a liquid rub, something like a chermoula…a bit of XV Olive oil, some chilli powder (mostly mild, and smokey), 3 large cloves of garlic chopped finely, some finely diced chilli pepper (you decide how much you want…don’t blame me, but I would throw in a full small-medium sized chilli with the seeds and membrane)., 3 Tablespoons lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt flakes, some black pepper, a teaspoon or so of maple syrup or sugar and 2 teaspoons of ground coriander and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin. Combine all that and then make sure that the fillets are completely rubbed in this lovely concoction of flavour. Let the fish stand in this juice for 20 minutes or so, any longer and they will cook with the lime juice (ceviche….but that’s another blog…oh how I do love Mexican food ;-).
It would be a good idea to make your coleslaw accompaniment before marinating the fish , as well as marinating your red onions in red wine vinegar (add a little sugar and a little salt and pepper to the vinegar for the red onions and set aside. They will keep in the fridge for ages, and are great added to sandwiches and all kinds of ‘I’m dying for vinegar to be added to this’ kind of dishes. For the coleslaw, finely shred some white cabbage with a mandolin, or a sharp knife….I prefer the latter, but I guess that makes me wierd. Chop and add some scallions (white and green parts), some fresh coriander and make a dressing with lime juice XV Olive oil,crushed garlic and a squeeze of honey. Add to the cabbage and toss well. This will do better if dressed at this point to soften and absorb the flavours a little bit.
Make your salsa by finely chopping fresh, sweet, ripe tomatoes (cherry are good for this as are vine tomatoes….don’t bother with the pink non-tomatoe ‘tomatoes’!!). Put them in a bowl and add finely chopped scallions, coriander, fresh chilli (to taste, but there’s no point in not ‘going for’ this in a salsa), minced garlic, a good squeeze of lime juice, sea salt and black pepper.
For guacamolé, I mash up an avocado (bumpy haas variety better and nuttier in taste than smooth fuerte variety), and then I add a couple dessertspoons of the above salsa with a little more finely chopped scallion and coriander and then add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. If I was starting from scratch and didn’t have salsa to hand (not very likely if I were to be eating Mexican food), I’d add some chopped chilli (sometimes I feel like jalapenos), tomatoes, coriander, scallions and then season again with lime, salt and pepper. I just get to cut a corner with the salsa to hand.
So now, I have all my toppings ready….I told you I HAD to have that dish of Andy Ludick’s in my Moroccan Gold pancake recipe….so this won’t be the last time you see that wonderful purple creation!! Next to it, is one we’ve had a good while, and I thought he should make an appearance too….it being a fish dish and all!! Isn’t Andy’s work amazing? Make sure you drop into the Discovery Park yard in Castlecomer if you’re passing. He isn’t the only fine artisan craft person there…you won’t regret it. Where was I? Oh yeah…so now you want to get cooking. Heat a grill pan over a medium high heat and lift the fillets out of the marinade when the pan is hot. Let the excess moisture drip off them. Now, a lot of people will tell you to wipe off the marinade at this point in recipes, but I simply can’t bring myself to do that….too much flavour potential and it only takes a few minutes more to do the washing-up (David would pipe up here , if he knew I were typing that because it’s usually he who does the washing-up…..well, it’s fair, no?).
I would usually start cooking my fish skin side down, but in this case I don’t, because I hate descaling fish if I’m not going to eat the skin, and I don’t want scales on my fish, so I start with the flesh side down….cook 2 minutes then turn the fillets.Getting hungry now. Blogging is hungry work, no doubt about it. Another minute on the skin side (you can judge how long you want to cook your fish by the thickness of its flesh…I HATE overcooked fish, so under is better in my opinion). Let it rest for a minute, then carefully remove the skin (cats love this), and flake the fish into a bowl. Add some more chopped scallion and coriander and season with lime juice, sea salt and pepper if necessary. Usually isn’t. We’re into divine material now. Steam your corn tortillas, or heat them on a gas flame, flipping regularly until warmed through.
Then layer your taco as previously stated…cabbage, fish, salsa, guacamolé, red onion and sour cream.Then, when you’re finished photographing for your blog/facebook-make yourself a real plate and get stuck-in ! Happy Cinco de Mayo!!