Written by Kon-Tiki Taco
Fish tacos have rocked from “what the?” to “where can I get some?” in the past couple of decades. Why? There are 100 answers, found in the ingredients.
One supposes it should be a universal phenomenon in cooking that cabbage and fish would go together. After all, cabbage is found growing naturally on all seven continents (yes, even the island regions of Antarctica sport a relative of the Brassica oleracea species). And fish…well, they swim in the waters around and in those continents.
The more recent global conquest of tacos, found also on all seven continents, suggests that fish and cabbage (usually a slaw) in a tortilla shell would be a natural. There may be no fish taco caterers on the far south Atlantic islands of the coldest continent, but an adventurer with a boat and cook stove could probably pull off a reasonable facsimile.
So mankind, being creative with food, developed the fish taco (with and without cabbage) that comes with a broad range of variation. And appreciation: even the Zagat organization has published reviews of fine taco dining involving fish as the main filler. Fish tacos are a common request from event planners working with their taco catering company, another indicator of their widespread popularity.
But it’s the full mix of ingredients, the fillings, and taco preparation methods, which rocket fish tacos to culinary fame. A brief rundown of some fish taco concepts that mobile taco catering experts know and taco fans love:
Pan-sear the fish – Battered and fried work for some, but in health-conscious crowds (i.e., 90% of Californians under the age of 85) the lighter approach allows the fish to be tender and flaky, minus significant fat calories.
Red snapper, lightly battered – Done just right, the outside batter should be light and greaseless so as not to overwhelm the taste and texture of the fish.
Sea beans – Pretty much only available on the West Coast, these “drift seeds” have a mild taste similar to asparagus but offer a crisp texture and briny flavor. The prep time involved is a bit much for many cooks; it’s a task eased by a trip to the mobile margarita bar (all kitchens should have at least one).
Citrus tobiko, mango and pineapple salsas – Hey, if we’re putting fish and cabbage together, why not add some tropical fruit? The sweet-savory combination is mouthwatering, plus the healthiness factor ratchets up several notches with the antioxidants.
Rice and tapioca flour tortillas – Eliminates the gluten found in corn tortillas.
Cod – Yes cod, that New England/North Atlantic fish more associated with the foods of Canada’s Maritime Provinces can add a fresh, light texture to a taco that otherwise features a sprightly pico de gallo and, perhaps, lots of interesting greens (with or without the cabbage).
Crema from heaven – Using lime, some substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream and it absolutely should be made with fresh-squeezed lime (not bottled).
Chipotle mayo – Martha Stewart says it’s ok to use reduced fat mayonnaise, along with adobo sauce, minced chipotles, course salt and fresh-squeezed limes.
Grilled corn – Oddly, this Midwestern staple has found its way to coastal cuisine including in fish tacos.
So are fish tacos here to stay? Does a fish have lips?