23 December 2013

Fish tacos with salsa and avocado

In December, between the 21st (Walt's birthday feast) and the 25th (the Christmas feast), we really need something spicy and tasty to eat that doesn't seem too heavy. Yesterday, that turned out to be fish tacos. I'm not even sure where the idea came from. Walt might have mentioned it first.

We had fish left over from the soupe de poissons we made a couple of weeks ago. It was frozen Alaska pollock, a fairly neutral white fish, in fillets. I found a recipe on Simply Recipes, Elise Bauer's site. She's in Sacramento, California, and the recipes she posts are unfailingly good. Here also is a French recipe that's similar.

These were soft tacos, the kind we used to enjoy in San Francisco way back when. They're full of fresh ingredients, including a tomato-pepper-garlic salsa that has some sting to it. Ours was a pico de gallo that I made last fall, when we were overwhelmed by a bumper crop of tomatoes from the garden. I had put a few containers of salsa in the freezer.

I thawed some fish fillets, dried them off, and sprinkled them with hot pepper, chili powder, and ground cumin. Then I sauteed them briefly in olive oil in a big skillet. I also sliced an onion and sauteed that briefly in olive oil, with no salt so that the onion would retain some crunch and just brown a little bit. Here's the cooked fish:

I cut up some roasted red bell peppers (poivrons rouges) out of a jar, and a fresh avocado. To keep the avocado from going brown, I squeezed a fresh lime over it. Lime juice is a flavor you want with Mexican-style food. The other ingredients in the tacos were iceberg lettuce and fresh cilantro a.k.a. coriander. We each made up our own tacos at the table.

We used small corn tortillas (Mexican tortillas, not the Spanish tortilla, which is a potato omelet). We can buy corn or wheat tortillas at the supermarket nowadays  — the supermarket chains have their own brands and they're good. We heated the tortillas up very quickly in the same non-stick skillet that I had cooked the onion and fish in. As for salsa, you can of course buy it in jars at the supermarket, or you can make your own with either fresh or canned tomatoes.

The pico de gallo salsa is very easy to make, by the way, because you just have to roughly chop some fresh or tinned tomatoes, hot chili peppers, onion, garlic, and herbs, put everything in a pitcher or other tall container, and blitz it all quickly with a stick blender. If it's too liquid, pour it into a fine-mesh strainer and let the liquid drain off. Don't throw it away though. Freeze it for later use in soups or sauces.

Along with the lime juice, I think a little dash of hot-pepper vinegar adds good punch to the taco. We put a lot of jalapeño, cayenne, and banana peppers up in vinegar in years when we have a good crop, and we save the vinegar for uses like this after the peppers are gone. The hot pepper vinegar is good with beans like black-eyed peas and with greens like collards.


  1. Dammit Ken...
    I've done it again...
    I've read one of your food posts before having something to eat!!
    These look and sound wonderful...

    We haven't tried it here yet, but we grow tomatillos from time to time...
    we discovered, while looking for recipes...
    they are a heavy cropper...
    that they are the original ingredient for salsa...
    and they gave the salsas we made a totally different colour and taste...
    green and quite lemony...
    "Purple de Milpa" added a touch of deep purple from their skins, too...

    All the packets say best to grow in a greenhouse...
    but outdoors in Yorkshire they were just fine!

    Actually, you don't get much of a crop in a greenhouse...?

  2. That meal looks so delicious....now I'm thinking fish tacos for lunch.


  3. Just when I got over my craving for some Mexican food after reading "Kevin Eats" and his Taco session, your post puts me right back into the mood.

    Merry Christmas.

  4. wow! do you have much mexican - or mexi-cali food there? or any at all? you know what i miss from the "west side?" Taco Time. i know can you believe it? i know you SFO folks had tons of other mexican fast food but thats the chain that i miss here.

    we had big and weird storms the other nite - i know that the carolinas were hit also, were your people alright? it was very odd having all the windows open and being in shorts yesterday. we hit 68* for our first day of winter. this morning i had to get up, close the windows, and find my heavy jacket.

    cant wait for your guinea feast posts! :-)

  5. We love fish tacos! One condiment that I always make is simple - diced white onions mixed with finely chopped cilantro then fresh lime juice gets mixed in. Also, we like finely shredded cabbage. Good stuff! Merry Christmas!

  6. Fish tacos are wonderful! I have never made them at home but your recipe is so easy, I'll have to give it a try.

  7. Ditto, ditto, ditto, etc...
    Perhaps you could give us a shopping list for the items we need to buy for at least the next four days...since whatever you prepare and share I want to duplicate! Fish tacos sound like a nice break from the comfort food I've been eating.
    Yesterdays temps were up to 56 deg. F. after the previous week's snow.

    Mary in Oregon

  8. What a great idea - fish tacos! I love tacos if I can eat them sitting down. We once had tacos served at a stand-up finger buffet at work - nobody touched them, oddly enough. P.

  9. Yes, like you, Pauline, I think soft tacos that you can eat sitting at the table, with a plate, a knife, and a fork, are the way to go.

  10. Belle idée, mais un peu trop épicé pour la Marie ;-)
    Et un bon Noël à vous deux, mes Amis !

  11. I have some cole slaw in the fridge. Wish I had the makings for fish tacos. They would go well together. Enjoy your holidays! Thanks for the recipe.

  12. Thanks Cheryl, happy holidays to you too.

    Mary07, you can make the tacos as spicy or mild as you like them. The fish isn't especially spicy; you can use as little salsa as you want; the red peppers are sweet poivrons; and the hot pepper vinegar is optional.

    OFG, we've been seeing reports about the weird U.S. weather. Mexican food seems to be more and more popular here in France. It's true though that French people in general don't like, or they fear, spicy food. I guess they don't have harissa with their couscous.

    Tim, we've grown tomatillos here in Saint-Aignan too. The reseed themselves and come back like weeds, as do cherry tomatoes. I'm not sure that the tomatillos really ripened well in this climate, however.

    Virginia, H.Peter, Starman, Judy, Lynn, Nadège, and Mary in Oregon, hope you enjoy the holiday. Happy Christmas Eve to all.

  13. Cheryl, oh, and thanks especially to Elise for the fish tacos recipe...

  14. The re-seeding can be a problem with tomatillos... but it does mean that you can transplant those to their own bed.
    I prefer the slightly un-ripe ones...
    more lemony...
    the ripe ones remind me of bleeding the diesel lines on the Alice Chalmers tractor when I was in forestry...

  15. Hi Ken and Walt - glad you survived the storm, we got it pretty bad here in the north with a tin sheet coming off our shed and hitting the car, luckily it missed the windscreen, I have often wondered what collard greens were now I have seen them up close I can see they are what we would call kale, feeling hungry now, a very Merry Christmas to you both, stay safe


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?