Baja Fish Tacos at the Celtic Festival in DOA

Baja Fish Tacos at the Celtic Festival in DOA

“Wow!” She walked round him in a circle, goggling.  “Roger, you are gorgeous!”  She smiled, a trifle lopsided.  “My mother always said men in kilts were irresistible.  I guess she was right.”

He saw her swallow hard, and wanted to hug her for her bravery, but she had already turned away, gesturing toward the main food area.

“Are you hungry?  I had a look while you were changing.  We’ve got our choice between octopus-on-a-stick, Baja fish tacos, Polish dogs–“

He took her arm and pulled her round to face him.

“Hey,” he said softly.  “I’m sorry; I wouldn’t have brought you if I’d know it would be a shock.”

“It’s all right.”  Her smile was better this time.  “It’s — I’m glad you brought me.”

“Truly?”

“Yeah.  Really.  It’s –” She waved helplessly at the tartan swirl of noise and color all around them.  It’s so — Scottish.”

Diana Gabaldon, Drums of Autumn (Chapter 4 – A Blast from the Past)

You can say alot of things about Bree…but she’s brave.

Brave to the point of stupidity — which she pays for further down the line — much like her sire, AND her mother for that matter.  Instinctual courage:  nature and nurture?

Probably a little bit of both. (She’s got more than a little bit of Frank in her, after all.)

For now, her only decision is what to eat.  And because she’s a bit distracted, I’ve made the choice for her.

BAJA FISH TACO SLAW

The Baja fish tacos available in 1969 at a Celtic Festival in the mountains outside of Boston would have looked quite different than mine.  Bree and Roger would have likely munched down on some heavily battered cod laid on top of shredded iceberg lettuce, smothered with a bland mayonnaise sauce and wrapped in a cardboard-like tortilla.  I don’t even want to think about the octopuses-on-sticks.

On the streets of Baja today, you’re more likely to find some lightly breaded, crispy-fried white-fish fillets wrapped in a soft homemade corn tortilla, garnished with cabbage and drizzled with lime-spiked Mexican crèma.

But battering/breading fish can be verra involved and messy…and there’s already lots of crunch from the cabbage, bell pepper and onion, so I took my Baja fish tacos the route of light, fresh, flavourful and fast by searing the spice-rubbed pieces quickly in an oil-brushed pan.

BAJA FISH TACO

(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)

Baja Fish Tacos at the Celtic Festival in DOA

A lighter, healthier and  flavour-packed version of the fish tacos Bree & Roger encountered at the Fair outside of Boston in 1969.

Serves 4

White Sauce:

  • Mayonnaise – ½ C
  • Milk – 2 Tble
  • Lime, juice and zest – 1
  • Garlic, minced – 1 clove

Fish Tacos:

  • Firm White Fish (halibut, cod, tilapia, etc), in skinless fillets – 1½-2 lbs
  • Ground Cumin – 1 tsp
  • Ground Coriander – 1 tsp
  • Salt – ½ tsp
  • Chili Flakes – pinch
  • Veg Oil – 1 tsp
  • Cabbage, shredded – 2 cups
  • Red Pepper, sliced – ½ small
  • Red Onion, sliced – ½ small
  • Cilantro, chopped – handful
  • Salt & Pepper – to taste
  • Corn tortillas, store bought or homemade, warm – 8 (recipe)
  • Lime wedges, for garnish

Read all of the instructions through before you start.

Mix all of the white sauce ingredients together, cover, and set in the fridge until ready to serve.

Cut the fish into (8) 1-1½” wide pieces.  Mix together the cumin, coriander salt and chili flakes, then season the fish generously on all sides.

Toss together the cabbage, red pepper, onion and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.  When hot, brush the pan lightly with vegetable oil, then add the fish pieces.  Fry until the bottom half of the flesh begins to turn opaque.  Gently flip the fish and fry until cooked through — the timing will depend on the thickness of the fillets.  Remove to a plate and tent lightly with foil to keep warm.

Fill each tortilla with a small handful of cabbage slaw and a drizzle of sauce, then top with a piece of fish and more sauce.  Serve with lime wedges.

Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)

Notes:

  • The fish in my pictures is halibut. (expensive, but local and in-season for us)
  • To warm the tortillas, wrap the stack in a clean, lightly damp dish towel and set in a 250° F. for 15-20 minutes.
  • These make great cold leftovers the next day.

halibut-tacoS

 

I am a professional chef, a food writer and an unabashed fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

19 Comments

  1. Aaron Brown

    Those look delicious!!

    Reply

    • Theresa

      Thanks, Aaron! Both My Englishman and I really enjoyed them!

      Reply

  2. Stacey Reynolds

    yum to fish tacos and a MacKenzie in a kilt!

    Reply

    • Theresa

      Especially that MacKenzie! Oooh those green eyes…

      Reply

  3. bullrem

    This looks yummy. Speaking of Bree being Brave…..
    Is Everyone going to see the new movie ‘ BRAVE this coming weekend???
    Probably as close as we will get to a Jamie and Claire type film anytime soon.
    Helen in Ark.

    Reply

    • Theresa

      That’s right, Helen! Brave is out soon, isn’t it? I’ll definitely be taking a trip of this rock to see it in the next few weeks!

      Reply

  4. The Mom Chef

    Oh, I could eat a dozen or so of those. I like the idea of the seared fish so much more than breaded and fried. It looks divine.

    I fully expect a recipe with octopus on a stick, you know. Can’t wait to see what you think. :)

    Reply

    • Theresa

      I could never do that to an octopus who gave its life so I could eat it! :D

      Reply

  5. Lior Aronoff

    yum!!! i think i need to start my own taco tuesday!
    i really hope this recipe makes it into the book!

    Reply

    • Theresa

      Taco and gluten-free beer Tuesday! Sounds good to me…

      Reply

      • dearli13

        mmm it’s been years since i’ve been able to enjoy tacos and beer!!! getting my shopping list together!

        Reply

  6. Claudia

    I’m on a fish taco kick so definitely will be doing this. Love men in kilts.

    Reply

    • Theresa

      Thanks for stopping by, Claudia!

      Reply

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    […] find the recipe for these on my “other” blog.  You know about that one, […]

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  8. Lorna

    Those look really good and the cilantro in my prairie garden definitely needs pruning!

    Reply

  9. Laura

    These are a staple in our house whenever we have halibut. I usually beer-batter and fry mine. I’ve got a great recipe for a thick but light crust. Occasionally I make ‘em without the batter or leave out the tortilla and put them on a big salad, but I almost always top with a homemade Chipotle Aioli. Yum!

    Reply

  10. Sandie Johnson

    Try with a homemade mango salsa (if you can get fresh mangos!). So good and so easy with a cabbage, vinegar slaw! YUM! YUM!

    Reply

    • Theresa

      The mango salsa is a great addition!

      Reply

  11. Laurie P.

    I have had a taste for fish tacos for weeks now. Went to a Mexican restaurant yesterday & was completely disappointed by some kind of thinly sliced, over-fried fillet. Now THIS is what I’m craving, and I happen to have several types of fishy goodness in the freezer….. REAL fish tacos tomorrow night! Thanks Theresa ♥

    Reply

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