The Best Fish Tacos

by Joseph Erdos
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fishtacosFor the longest time I didn't know what a real taco was. As a kid we ate tacos from the store-bought kit, and on rare occasion we might have fast food tacos from that place with the bell. But the first time I had real tacos was at a popular Mexican restaurant in New York during my college years. It just so happens that those first tacos were fish tacos. Since then they've been my all-time favorite.

I've never been to the place where fish tacos originated, Baja California, but I can easily imagine myself eating them on a beach with white sand and crystal clear waters. Some fish tacos are made from fried fish, but I like mine grilled with a spice-rub. This recipe is just that—it's packed with flavor and perfect on a summer day spent out on the patio.

I like to make my fish tacos with mahi-mahi, which works very nicely on the grill. Its meaty and doesn't fall apart too easily. But once it's cooked, it's easy to flake into big, juicy chunks, perfect for packing into tacos. I don't just use any store-bought tacos, I make mine from scratch—it's easy because all you need is the corn flour and water.

Fish Tacos with Homemade Tortillas and Pico de Gallo

For easy grilling, grill the fish over a grilling basket—there will be less tendency for the fish to stick to the grates.

1 pound mahi mahi fillet, skin removed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon lime juice (about 1 lime)
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
corn tortillas, recipe follows
pico de gallo, recipe follows
1/4 head red cabbage, shredded
diced avocado
sour cream
cilantro sprigs
lime wedges

Preheat a gas grill at medium-high to high heat. Place fish in a shallow dish. Whisk together oil, lime juice, and chili powder in a small bowl and pour over fish. Let marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.

Place fish on hot grill, flesh-side down and grill for 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and continue to grill until no longer opaque in the middle, about 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer fish to a plate and let rest for a few minutes. Break up into chunks for serving. Serve in warmed tortillas with pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, avocado, sour cream and cilantro. Serve with wedges of lime. Yield: 6 servings.

Corn Tortillas

2 cups corn flour
1-1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon salt

In a bowl, combine the corn flour, water, and salt. Mix until it reaches a smooth consistency—it shouldn't be too dry or sticky. Form the dough into a large disc and keep covered with a moistened towel while working with it.

Divide the dough into 12 equal-size balls. Working one at a time, flatten a ball between two sheets of wax paper and, using a tortilla press or a rolling pin, create a tortilla. Yield: 12 tortillas.

Preheat a griddle or skillet at medium heat. Cook tortillas 1 minute per side and keep warm until ready to eat.

Pico de Gallo

1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon lime juice (about 1 lime)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine tomato, red onion, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Yield: 1 cup salsa. 

 

Joseph Erdos is a New York–based writer and editor, butabove all a gastronomer and oenophile. He shares his passion for foodon his blog, Gastronomer's Guide , which features unique recipes and restaurant reviews among many other musings on the all-encompassing topic of food.

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