Baja Style Fish Tacos

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This is a very exciting post for us! We have dreamed about fish tacos for a while now. But the biggest problem we have here in South Africa is the lack of authentic Mexican products. We have some great forerunners in the restaurant trade like El Burro and San Julian that is teaching people what real Mexican and not Tex Mex is. The problem is finding all these authentic ingredients in the retail market.

We are really missing the mark on what real Mexican food is. And a fish taco can’t be anymore Mexican. When I lived in California I couldn’t get enough of the stuff and have craved it ever since!

Now the first lesson for fish tacos: use SOFT CORN TACOS. Not flour tortillas or hard taco shells. You can’t find these anywhere in Mzanzi so we decided to make our own.

Please allow me to introduce a wonderful company called Mexicorn based here in our hometown Cape Town. They are passionate about authentic Mexican products.  Firstly they make their own Masa. Masa is the Spanish word for dough. The dried product, masa de harina (corn flour) is used to make corn torillas. Masa is made from hominy (an alkaline process the corn undergoes by cooking and soaking the corn in slaked lime). This process is essential to the taste and flavour in the making of  a  corn tortilla.

I bought some corn tortillas from Mexicorn and blended and dried them to make my corn flour. This might seem like a process but let me tell you, it is well worth it! You won’t get the same flavour from using flour tortillas, so do try this wonderful method.

Do I get completely lyrical about fish tacos?.  Yes, I am not  kidding you, they are awesome! The flavours of the Mexican cuisine is complex but simple (if that makes any sense?) Lots of ingredients but a fresh and wonderful taste. The fresh ingredients and the spiciness from the smoked chilli (or chipotle) is what gives this dish its authentic flavour. And the key to making awesome fish tacos is of course a beer batter. And like I have said so many times before, beer makes anything better. I also added some smoked salt (to which we here at Yellow Papaya have become slightly addicted!) We even eat it on avocado toast… yeah everything!

Ok, I have been lyrical enough,  here is the recipe:

 

Soft Taco Recipe: (makes approx 8 soft tacos depending on the size)

2 cups Stone Ground Bread Flour ( I prefer Eureka Mills)

8 small corn tortillas, ripped into small pieces

pinch of salt

100 ml water

 

For the battered fish:

4 small firm white fish fillets, cut into 2 cm x 4 cm strips (I used yellowtail which is  on the green SASSI  list)

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp ground mustard

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp smoked sea salt

1 egg

250 ml beer

 

For the taco sauce:

1/2 cup greek yoghurt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp capers

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp dried smoked chilli

squeeze of lime juice

 

Base salad:

Mix together:

1/2 Coleslaw red or green (or mixed) finely cut

dash of lime juice

pinch of salt and pepper

Mix Together:

2 Tomatoes cut into small blocks

1 small red onion

2 stems, spring onion

pinch of salt and pepper

Mix Together: 

1 Avocado, sliced

dash of lemon juice

 

For the Tacos:

To make the tacos, start by drying your corn tortillas in an oven heated to 180 °C. You want to dry the tortillas but you don’t want them to burn, so watch them closely. About 15-20 minutes. When your tortillas are dry, place them in a blender and blend till it resembles a fine flour. You will use this as your base for the corn taco. Mix the two cups of bread flour and one cup of the corn flour together and add a pinch of salt. Start to mix in the water in small amounts until the dough comes together and you have a soft dough that resembles bread dough. You can add more water if the dough is still dry. Sprinkle some flour on a surface and knead the dough together till smooth. Don’t overwork the dough. Divide the dough into 8 equal balls and push each ball flat. Using a rolling-pin roll each ball to about 3 mm.  When you are rolling turn the dough in a circular motion to get a neat circle. I used a small pot lid to “cut” out each taco like you would with a cookie cutter. You don’t need to do this if your edges are nice and neat. I am just a bit of a perfectionist.

Once you have rolled the tacos, stack them with flour sprinkled between.  Next to “cook” the tacos. Heat a pan till almost smoking and place a taco one at a time in the pan till bubbles start to form, then turn and cook the other side. Once again watch them they burn quickly!

For the taco sauce:

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth (best sauce you will EVER eat!)

For the fish batter:

Mix all the dry ingredients together and add the egg and while mixing slowly add enough beer to make a runny batter similar to pancake batter. You are now ready to fry. To fry the fish dip each piece of fish in the batter making sure to coat all over.  Fry the fish in a pan with oil that has been heated to just below smoking point and turn the heat down to a lower setting. Fry a few pieces at a time till golden brown. Place on a paper towel.

To assemble the tacos:

Place a small amount of coleslaw in each taco. Top with tomato/onion mix. Place a few pieces of fried fish on top of the slaw and tomato/onion mixture. Drizzle with taco sauce and top with sliced avocado and some optional fresh spring onion.

ahora está listo para comer tacos!

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Photography: YSP

Styling: Simone Kruger