Saturday, 13 March 2010

Perch, or Other Fish, Tacos

Mom just came back from her winter in Florida, bearing a few leftover tortillas. We were very pleased to see them (and her too, natch). For some reason it is ridiculously hard to get decent tortillas around here. There are a few local makers, but most tortillas* will be shipped up from the U.S. and even those are hard to find. Try the freezer of a Latin American grocery store - the "fresh" ones will be so full of preservatives as to taste positively disgusting. It's almost easier to buy the masa flour, and make your own. Just follow the directions on the package.

Anyway, it also happened that I had just bought some perch, so perch tacos seemed the obvious outcome. Fish tacos are a pretty traditional dish in Baja Mexico, but their fame has been spreading abroad in recent years, with complete justification. We only had cabbage, but I admit I would like a little avocado with this.

8 tacos
30 minutes prep time

Fish Tacos with Perch
Make the Sauce:
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (light is fine)
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/8 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice

Mix together the above in a small bowl and refrigerate until wanted.

Prepare the Fillings:
1 1/2 cup finely shredded cabbage OR lettuce
1/4 cup finely chopped radishes (optional)
1 green onion, finely chopped (optional)
1 cup prepared salsa, red or green
1 small avocado, peeled and sliced (optional)

The salsa and cabbage are all that you must have and in fact were all I had to put on mine. The other ingredients make good additions, although maybe not all of them at once. You can have them prepared next to your taco assembly station, or you can put them out on the table and allow people to fill their own tacos.

Cook the Fish & Assemble Tacos:
600 grams perch fillets or other white fish fillets
fine corn (arepa) meal or flour, about half a cup
ground chile (yes, I used the neverending Korean stuff)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, ground
1 medium egg (optional)
2-3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
8 corn tortillas

Skin the perch, and discard the skin. It is rather tough, so once you pry it up at the thin (tail) end of the fillet it should pull off fairly easily. Don't worry if the fillets break up a bit, because once skinned they should be cut into 16 relatively equal portions.

Salt the fish fillets, and season them with the chile and cumin. Roll the pieces in the meal. If you like, they can then be tossed with the beaten egg until coated, and rolled in meal again, which will give them a thicker, crunchier coating, but one layer will do if you prefer.

Heat most of the oil in a medium skillet, and just a dab of it in your largest skillet, both over medium-high heat. Cook the fish in the smaller skillet, until lightly browned and firm on both sides. Meanwhile, heat the tortillas in the larger skillet, getting in as many at once at you can, and turning them once they are hot and lightly browned in spots. Remove the tortillas to a plate as they heat, folding them in half as you go. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Once the fish is cooked and the tortillas heated, put 2 pieces of fish in each tortilla, and add a scant tablespoon of the sauce, along with a whatever quantity of the other fillings seems appropriate. Eat at once. A bib is helpful, and pass lots of serviettes.

* I'm refering to corn tortillas here, of course. Wheat tortillas have their place but they aren't, you know, "tortillas".

Last year at this time I made Celeriac & Beet Salad.


Joanne said...

It's true, tacos just seem incomplete without avocado. Other than that, these look great. It's so weird you can't get good tortillas up there! I mean, everyone likes Mexican food!

scribe said...

if you're still near waterloo county, we have a mexican grocery in elmira, run by mexican mennonites who have moved back to the area, that always has corn tortillas (made near leamington) as well as wheat and whole wheat. the owner's mother also makes tamales and each saturday, you can get them fresh for about $1 each.

Ferdzy said...

Scribe, yeah; I've heard about that place and I've wanted to go for at least a year, but they only have them I think on Saturdays, and I really only go down on Sunday, when they're closed. Frustrating. Once a month I drive by, and say: "There they are! And I can't go in..."

But thank you, anyway, for reminding me.

Melynda said...

I love fish tacos, probably my favorite way of eating most white fish, thanks for posting.