Variety Menu / Recipes

For the longest time, I didn't know what a real taco was. I've never been to the place where fish tacos originated, Baja California, but I can easily imagine myself eating them on a beach with white sand and crystal clear waters.

ONE FOR THE TABLE: Fish tacos and homemade tortillas

For the longest time, I didn't know what a real taco was. When I was a kid, we ate tacos from the store-bought kit, and on rare occasion we might have fast food tacos from that place with the bell. But the first time I had real tacos was at a popular Mexican restaurant in New York during my college years. It just so happens that those first tacos were fish tacos. Since then, they've been my all-time favorite.

I've never been to the place where fish tacos originated, Baja California, but I can easily imagine myself eating them on a beach with white sand and crystal clear waters. Some fish tacos are made from fried fish, but I like mine grilled with a spice-rub. This recipe is just that -- it's packed with flavor and perfect on a summer day spent out on the patio.

I like to make my fish tacos with mahi-mahi, which works very nicely on the grill. Its meaty and doesn't fall apart too easily. But once it's cooked, it's easy to flake into big, juicy chunks, perfect for packing into tacos. I don't just use any store-bought tortillas; I make mine from scratch -- it's easy because all you need is the corn flour and water.

Fish Tacos with Homemade Tortillas and Pico de Gallo

For easy grilling, grill the fish over a grilling basket -- there will be less tendency for the fish to stick to the grates.

Serves 6.

1 pound mahi mahi fillet, skin removed

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon lime juice (about 1 lime)

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

Corn tortillas (recipe follows)

Pico de gallo (recipe follows)

1/4 head red cabbage, shredded

Diced avocado

Sour cream

Cilantro sprigs

Lime wedges

Preheat a gas grill at medium-high to high heat. Place fish in a shallow dish. Whisk together oil, lime juice and chili powder in a small bowl and pour over fish. Let marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.

Place fish on hot grill, flesh-side down and grill for 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and continue to grill until no longer opaque in the middle, about 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer fish to a plate and let rest for a few minutes. Break up into chunks for serving. Serve in warmed tortillas with pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, avocado, sour cream and cilantro. Serve with wedges of lime.

Corn Tortillas

Makes 12 tortillas.

2 cups corn flour

1 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon salt

In a bowl, combine the corn flour, water and salt. Mix until it reaches a smooth consistency -- it shouldn't be too dry or sticky. Form the dough into a large disc and keep covered with a moistened towel while working with it.

Divide the dough into 12 equal-size balls. Working one at a time, flatten a ball between two sheets of wax paper and, using a tortilla press or a rolling pin, create a tortilla.

Preheat a griddle or skillet at medium heat. Cook tortillas 1 minute per side and keep warm until ready to eat.

Pico de Gallo

Makes 1 cup salsa.

1 medium tomato, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1 tablespoon lime juice (about 1 lime)

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine tomato, red onion, lime juice and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

(Joseph Erdos is a New York-based writer and editor, who shares his passion for food on his blog, Gastronomer's Guide. One for the Table is Amy Ephron's online magazine that specializes in food, politics, and love. http://www.oneforthetable.com)


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