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This site contains a collection of techniques for barbecuing, smoking and cooking over fire. The techniques shown here are not the only way or the best way to prepare a certain item. This site is just a starting point and these techniques are a guide to creating your own recipes. Recipes included here come not only from personal experiences, but from many knowledgeable folks kind enough to share their secrets. ~thirdeye~

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19950105

Fish Tacos

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I like fish and I like tacos.....so it only makes sense that I like fish tacos. I had my first ones at a roadside joint in Texas, the type of place that only locals went to, and most of the food was purchased to-go. The fish was fresh from the Gulf of Mexico and deep fried, then cut into strips. The tortillas were fresh warm corn ones. All the condiments were self serve and, from what I recall, were just lettuce, cabbage, a mayonnaise sauce, a couple of coarse salsas and some hot peppers in vinegar. These were something like thirty cents each, or 4 for a dollar.

Years later in Taos, I see some five-dollar ones on the menu in a trendy restaurant (a blue corn tortilla and $12 a shot tequila kind of a place), so I order some from my seat at the bar. I’ll spare the drawn out comparison I was prepared lay out here and cut right to the point… fish tacos have not changed very much in the last thirty years, and really, why change something too much when it works so well?

I’ve sampled various ones throughout the Southwest and also in California where they are popular in Bakersfield and really popular in San Diego. The locals there are quick to point out that Ensenada, Mexico is the real home of fish tacos, then they will tell you the story behind Rubio’s, a fish taco landmark. In a nutshell, Rubio fell in love with the fish tacos he got from a small stand but couldn’t talk the owner to moving up north to San Diego.

He did, however, get his hands on the technique for making them. Get this… the recipe calls for a soft corn (or flour) tortilla, battered and fried fish, some tangy white sauce, cabbage and salsa. One version I make is pictured above, and has most of the traditional things I like on them, however the delivery is different.

For starters, I make sort of a spicy cabbage slaw using yogurt or mayonnaise for the base. I will even jazz up deli slaw on occasion and it works just fine. The other condiments are chopped green onions, radish slices, cilantro and salsa. You might as well roast some peppers too, either for the tacos or to eat along with them. A lime wedge for squeezin’ is served on the side. The biggest difference is cooking the fish on the grill. Yes on the grill. Thin fillets of perch, flounder, trout, roughy, tilapia and many others work just fine.

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I’m looking for a crunchy texture on the fish to go with the crunch of the toppings. The cooking technique I prefer comes by way of The Naked Whiz and you can read his how-to HERE. I only made slight changes, mostly in the seasonings, and I adjusted the cook time since my tacos need thin fillets....Okay, basically, build a hot fire and let it stabilize. shoot for about 400° dome, if you are a little high or low, that's fine. While the fire is getting ready, cover a metal tray or fish screen with foil (make sure it has sides so no oil runs off). When you are ready to cook, preheat the tray for at least 10 minutes. During this time, rinse off your fillets, season some flour with chili powder and salt, make an egg/water wash and put some panko (Japanese bread crumbs) onto some wax paper. Sprinkle the fish with flour, dip in the egg wash then coat with panko.

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For cooking, add a little oil onto your preheated tray, then add the fish. They should be checked for sticking in about 2 minutes and flipped in 2 more. Once they are 135° internal, they are done. The panko should have developed a golden color and will be very light and crunchy. Slice the fillets into pieces 2 fingers wide. Wrap all this in a warmed corn tortilla or a tortilla wrap (wheat ones are good too), give it a squeeze of lime and enjoy with a cold beer.

Variations - Of course, this can be cooked in a 375° or 400° oven.