Written by Kon-Tiki Taco
Should you grill, broil or batter a fish taco? Any of them can make an event go swimmingly, as taco caterers can well attest.
Time was that serving fish for a party almost never happened. Restaurants from coast to coast at most served “surf and turf,” often a lobster and steak, because fish simply wasn’t the preferred American meal. Fish dinners were served on the coasts, but always as ordered by individual diners.
Tastes have changed, driven in part by nutrition awareness. Consumption of fish overall by American diners increased from 11.2 pounds per person in 1910 to about 15 pounds per person in 2011. One area that may have led to an uptick could be mobile taco catering, where sold as a fun food for consumption in a party atmosphere diners get a sense of the great taste and versatility of fish tacos. (The fact fish tacos are often paired with a margarita bar certainly helps as well.) Fish taco catering is now becoming commonplace.
But as with fish served today in restaurants in all price ranges, taco caterers have a broad range of recipes to work. A fish taco can be grilled, broiled, battered and fried – providing a different taste and texture, made with even greater variety by the endless types of toppings, salsas and vegetables that go into a taco.
Grilled fish tacos: The trick is a medium-hot fire and the zest of lime. To be clear, classic fish tacos are more typically fried and consequently tend to be greasier. The grilled version of fish – for those sufficiently skilled at grilling whitefish (cod, halibut, mahi-mahi or snapper) – is lighter and lower in calories. We’ll leave the argument to others as to the healthiness of a lower-calorie meal, as a little bit of fat is considered by some to be beneficial in other regards (see “battered and fried” below).
Broiled fish tacos: Broiling fish is the preferred method of those who opt for something healthier than fried (again, an arguable point) and if the chef doesn’t want to lose half the fish falling through the grill. Marinate the fish in oil, cumin, chili powder and lime juice and you have a tasty, spicy fish that speaks through however else you top off the taco.
Battered and fried fish tacos: Yes, the coating adds calories. But with the addition of citrus (a squeezed lime), plus avocado and a cabbage slaw on top, it’s a fresher and nutritious taco meal that any taco catering company would be proud to serve.
And while these recipes might seem a tad bit exotic, it bears noting that the earliest versions of tacos, used by 18th century silver miners in Mexico. It’s a taste and texture that has made sense all along.