Monday, 25 June 2012

Fish Tacos and Cilantro-Lime Butter

Not my best food photography, but you get the point. 
I tried fish tacos for the first time when I was in Santa Monica a few years ago with my sister. They were distinctly California- I loved the lightness of these tacos, so different than the heavy beef “Old El Paso” tacos I’m used to. Don’t get me wrong, I love that type of taco, but spending an entire week in a bikini means one cannot get lulled into a false sense of security about what they eat. Hilariously, on this same trip, I order scallops for dinner one night. My plate arrived with three scallops on it and some bean puree. I had to get an order of sweet potato fries on the side. When the waiter gave me a strange look, I said, “I’m Canadian. I need more food than this.” It all made sense to him after that.

Since that trip, I’ve tried fish tacos in a variety of places. I can’t quite achieve the hit of that first taste though, and some of the ones I’ve tried have been a little weird. I, for one, feel that for these tacos, I need to have strips of fish in it, not one whole piece of fish. It also needs a batter with a little southwest flavour. Being the type of person I am, after I tried enough of these in restaurants, I became quite convinced I could make them myself.

And so I did. And they were delish! Here’s what you need:

  • ·      White fish of some variety, I used “Basa”, which I have no idea about but it is nice and light.
  • ·      For the batter, you need cumin, coriander, chilli, flour, beer and a little baking soda.
  • ·      Tortillas
  • ·      Sliced Avocadoes, tomatoes, FRESH cilantro, limes and salsa verde (or regular salsa if that makes your life easier)
  • ·      You can also do a chipotle sour cream if you like it spicy, just finely chop a chipotle and stir it into sour cream.

Remember, we’re keeping these tacos light, so there isn’t going to be any kind of heavy sauce or anything like that.

We’re going to deep fry this fish. Start by slicing it into strips set those aside. Make your batter in the same way you made it for Fish and Chips, but to add the taco flavour, put in a teaspoon of cumin, chilli and coriander to it. A pinch of baking soda makes the batter fluff up nicely. Stir in the beer for pancake batter consistency.

Dust your strips of fish with a little flour, salt and pepper. Set up your deep-fry pot with oil and get that to the right temp. (You can drop in a couple drops of batter and if they fry up right away, your temp is good.) You definitely want the oil hot enough, if it isn’t hot enough the food absorbs more oil and thus you find yourself with a very fattening and greasy piece of fish.

This should give a good idea of the innards of the taco.
As you take your fish out, put it on a plate with paper towel to drain it. Salt it right away. (Notice how similar this is to fish and chips? It’s because my mum knows exactly what she’s talking about when it comes to a fish fry).

For an extra nice touch, wrap your tortillas in tinfoil and warm them up in the oven. Before you start frying up fish, I recommend slicing all your taco toppings. That way you aren’t tracking batter from one end of the kitchen to another, and you won’t burn up all the fish.

Once your fish is done, you’re good to go! Top your taco with fresh cilantro, tomatoes, salsa and nice, ripe avocadoes. Serve these with lime wedges and some Corona, and you’ll feel you’re right on the Baja Peninsula.

Now, if you want to get REALLY fancy with the leftover cilantro, I strongly recommend corn on the cob with lime-cilantro butter. This is easy but takes a bit of thinking ahead.

That's cilantro lime butter on that corn!
Take out a stick of butter and let it get very soft. This will take at least an hour, depending on the temperature of your house. Meanwhile, very finely chop some cilantro. Put your soft butter in a bowl, with the cilantro and juice of one lime. Mix that all up with a fork. Now, take a sheet of parchment paper, and scoop out your butter on to that. Roll it up in a little log and put that in the fridge for at least an hour. Now you can slice it and put it on the hot corn. A delightful side dish for the fish tacos! 

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