… Recreating an Authentic Mexican Fish Taco Experience!
A couple of weeks ago I found myself in Southern California enjoying the best Mexican food I’ve had in years. 20 years to be exact … and LONG before I had any experience with living a gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle. I have so much to share with you about that trip, but for now I’m simply trying to re-live my joy of the best and most authentic Mexican food I’ve ever had. So I decided to make fish tacos and mentally transport myself, even if just for one meal.
And what better day to do so than on Cinco de Mayo. I know it’s short notice, so if you find that this recipe doesn’t make it to your table today, know that it is worthy of finding itself on your table for Taco Tuesday … or any day, for that matter.
These tacos are gluten-free and dairy-free from start to finish, bonus right, because they are just plain delicious for anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Fish tacos are very easy to make, and can be done in very short-order time. A good piece of fresh cod, cut into 1-inch thick strips, fried in very hot oil (just before smoke point) will sear it so it doesn’t fall apart as easily. If you shy away from frying, then just use a firmer type of fish such as halibut, so the flaking only happens in your taco, not in the pan.
The garnish and embellishments for these tacos is that of a classic Baja taco … shredded cabbage, corn tortillas, and a fresh salsa. Some use a tomatillo salsa, which adds some tang, heat, and sweetness. It is the salsa I garnished my Mexican Sweet Corn Cake with in this photo and on my recipe post. For these fish tacos, I decided to do a salsa ranch, shredded cabbage, and a fresh papaya jalapeño chutney-style salsa.
I also have gotten completely turned on to making homemade corn tortillas. It honestly takes less than five minutes to mix the dough, then a quick press with a tortilla press or rolling out with a rolling pin, and heating them on a very hot griddle for about 30 seconds on each side. If this is not in your wheelhouse, no worries. Mission brand corn tortillas are gluten-free and dairy-free and are an excellent choice. Homemade or purchased, the corn tortillas don’t need any oil or butter to grill up well, but if you prefer it, that works too.
I’ve shared a taco recipe in the past in which I talked all about how to put together a killer taco bar with tons of fixin’s. While I like that a lot, what I really appreciate about this fish taco recipe is how with very little work, and simple ingredients, the flavors are so authentic and rewarding. Clean, fresh, and true. What’s not to like?
Happy Cinco de Mayo … or any Taco Tuesday (or any Taco Day) that comes your way!
Gluten-free Dairy-free Authentic Mexican Fish Tacos
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 (3 tacos each person)
1 cup diced papaya or mango
1 large jalapeno pepper, stemmed, finely diced (remove seeds to minimize heat)
2 green onions, white and 1 inch of green stem, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
¼-1/2 cup gluten-free, vegan mayonnaise (depending on how thick you like your salsa ranch dressing)
½-3/4 cup salsa – I use Pace Picante Sauce – Medium
1 cup shredded cabbage
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped, optional
1 pound fresh cod, no skin, cut into 1-inch strips
1-2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil
12 corn tortillas – I use Mission Corn Tortillas or homemade (recipe below)
Combine papaya or mango, jalapeno, green onion, and lime juice in a small bowl. Stir and set aside.
Combine mayo and salsa in a bowl and stir well to make a salsa ranch style dressing. Adjust thickness with either more mayo or more salsa to your preference. Set aside.
Place cabbage and cilantro in separate bowls and set aside.
Heat dry cast iron griddle on medium-high heat (no oil needed).
Heat oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat (almost to smoke point – watch it carefully.) Add as many fish strips as fit without over-crowding and still being able to turn fish. Sear on one side until fish become opaque, no longer translucent, about half way up the side of fish pieces. Should take about 3-4 minutes. Turn to other side to finish cooking, about another 2 minutes. Transfer cooked fish to a plate.
Make homemade tortillas (see below for directions), if doing so, while fish is cooking. If using ready-made, wait to heat tortillas until fish is almost cooked.
Heat tortillas on hot griddle until lightly golden brown on each side, then transfer to a tortilla holder, or place between damp paper towels on a plate.
To serve, spread salsa ranch dressing on warm tortilla, add piece of cooked cod, sprinkle with cabbage, papaya jalapeno chutney, and garnish with cilantro. Then feast! Yum!
To make homemade corn tortillas:
1 ½ cups corn masa flour – I use Maseca Masa Flour
pinch to 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup water, plus up to another Tablespoon extra to adjust moisture content of dough
Combine flour and salt in a medium-size bowl. Stir with finger. Add water and stir with fingers to mix to a dough consistency, until ball forms. Add additional water, 1 teaspoonful at a time, if needed to make the dough stick together. It should not crumble apart.
Cover dough with a damp cloth or damp paper towels while making tortillas. Pinch off a golf-ball size amount, roll between palms to form a ball (mine are roughly shaped, that’s okay). Place between two sheets of plastic (a quart-size baggie with top cut off and split up both sides works very well) and press in a tortilla press to flatten, or roll out with a rolling pin.
Place tortilla on very hot griddle and let brown on one side (about 30 seconds to 1 minute) then turn and repeat on other side. Transfer to a tortilla holder, or place between two damp paper towels or a damp cloth towel on a plate. Set aside until ready to use.
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™