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Baja Fish Tacos at the Celtic Festival in DOA

Baja Fish Tacos at the Celtic Festival in DOA

Drums of Autumn

“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.”


“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.


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.


(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)


  • 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.




  1. Aaron Brown
    June 4, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Those look delicious!!

    • Theresa
      June 5, 2012 at 6:50 am

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

  2. Stacey Reynolds
    June 4, 2012 at 6:10 am

    yum to fish tacos and a MacKenzie in a kilt!

    • Theresa
      June 5, 2012 at 6:49 am

      Especially that MacKenzie! Oooh those green eyes…

  3. bullrem
    June 4, 2012 at 6:58 am

    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.

    • Theresa
      June 5, 2012 at 6:49 am

      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!

  4. The Mom Chef
    June 4, 2012 at 7:24 am

    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. 🙂

    • Theresa
      June 5, 2012 at 6:48 am

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

  5. Lior Aronoff
    June 4, 2012 at 10:41 am

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

    • Theresa
      June 5, 2012 at 6:47 am

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

    • dearli13
      June 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm

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

  6. Claudia
    June 4, 2012 at 11:44 am

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

    • Theresa
      June 5, 2012 at 6:47 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Claudia!

  7. Lorna
    June 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm

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

  8. Laura
    July 21, 2012 at 9:17 am

    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!

  9. Sandie Johnson
    September 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm

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

    • Theresa
      September 17, 2012 at 8:57 am

      The mango salsa is a great addition!

  10. Laurie P.
    March 10, 2013 at 8:57 am

    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 ♥

  11. Sandie Johnson
    August 10, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    They look delish! I love mine with grilled white fish tangy cabbage and mango salsa!

  12. Nicole W.
    August 17, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Just made these…they were so good!!!

  13. Carissa
    October 5, 2015 at 10:05 am

    I made these last night. Oh my goodness!! Sooo good!!!! Thanks for the awesome recipe, Theresa! One question: I made the corn tortillas according to the Saveur recipe. After mixing the water and masa, and flattening them, is there any cooking involved? It seemed like you just set them aside according to the recipe – unless using them for puffy tacos, which I wasn’t. They seemed really doughy. I feel sheepish, if I missed a step of frying them or something. :-/ They didn’t hold their shape at all, but we enjoyed a sort of Baja Fish Taco Salad. The flavors were still amazeballs!! 🙂 Thank you!!!

    • Theresa
      October 5, 2015 at 11:07 am

      Carissa, you want to heat/cook the tortillas on a hot cast iron pan for a couple of minutes each side to warm them, then wrap in a clean towel and keep warm in the oven while you prepare the fish. I’m glad you enjoyed them nonetheless!

  14. Alley
    February 25, 2016 at 10:43 am

    These are amazing. We have also made them with grilled shrimp. Delicious.

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