Mundo Taco Enhancements
By LARRY KANE
For most consumers, the fish taco is the product of mobile stand purveyors in California in areas like Venice, L. A. and San Diego. They can trace their origin to Baja California in the early 1900s. In those days the west coast of the Americas were receiving an influx of immigrants from Japan and other Asian principalities.
Components of the fish taco vary. Many recipes call for halibut or grouper and those fish are fine indeed. Substituting tilapia is ideal. For the tortilla, corn or flour, the choice is yours. Another essential component is crema, a type of sour cream that is usually seasoned with a complimentary flavor like lime or chipotle. Shredded cabbage is traditional, but you can substitute lettuce if you like. Avocado is essential, or you can use guacamole.
Beyond the four crucial ingredients, creativity is up to the whim of the chef: yourself. Consider the following accoutrements,
For the preparation of the fish, again you have options. The first time I was handed a fish taco the fish had been grilled, not deep fried, and the fresh lime and cilantro gave it a sharp, crisp flavor. I was hooked.
In my own experiments I substituted ceviche for the fish. Delicious! Next, I grilled the tilapia, which is a delicate fish to cook on the grill, but the results were positive. Lastly, and only as a nod to tradition, I mixed a tempura beer batter and deep fried the fish. There is a reason why traditions exist. That tempura fish was excellent!
½ lb. white fish (tilapia, cod, etc.) cut ½ inch dice, rinsed and patted dry
2 ea.limes, juiced
1 ea. lemon, juiced
1 lrg. clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. sea salt
generous splash of hot sauce
¼ c. red onion, diced 1/8 inch
In a non-metal bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and chill at least three hours. After 24 hours discard any leftovers as mixture loses texture.
½ (one-half) c. sour cream
½ (one-half) c. plain yogurt
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
generous pinch of salt
optional flavors (see below)
Combine all ingredients. Chill. Keeps for about two weeks. For additional flavoring you may add the zest of one lime, or a canned chipotle chile finely chopped (seeds removed), or a tablespoon of a minced fresh herb like cilantro, oregano, basil and the like.
2 c. finely shredded (angel hair) cabbage
2 ea. scallions, green part only, very thinly sliced
½ (one-half) tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. sugar
juice of one lime (2 tbsp.)
In a non-metal bowl, combine all ingredients. Let rest five minutes, stir again. Best served immediately, as this does not keep well.