Is it bad to say that the best fish taco we ever had was at an aquarium? During a visit to the aquarium in San Diego, Caroline and her family had lunch at the cafeteria, where they gleefully devoured the local specialty within feet of an ocean life display. Since then, Caroline has forced her family to sample many fish tacos in and around the San Diego area, but has yet to find better. That winning combination of crisp cabbage, creamy sauce, and tender, lightly spiced fish inspired this version, which we also like with Pineapple Salsa.
1/2 cup sour cream
Grated zest of 1/2 lime, and juice
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 pounds skinless thick white, flaky fish fillets, such as halibut, cod, or mahimahi, cut into pieces about 4 inches long and patted dry
Salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra, if needed
8 warm small flour tortillas (see Tip)
TOPPINGS OF YOUR CHOICE
Pineapple Salsa (recipe follows)
Large handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
Halved cherry tomatoes
Shredded green cabbage
In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, lime zest, and water. Add a splash of lime juice, then set the sour cream sauce aside. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the cumin and chili powder and rub to evenly distribute.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the fish, in batches if needed, and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the fish over and cook until just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer the fish to a platter. Serve with the warm tortillas, sour cream sauce, and toppings and let everyone assemble their tacos as they like.
TIP: If you have a favorite way to warm tortillas, use it. We usually wrap a stack of about 4 at a time in a layer of damp paper towels and microwave on medium-high for about 20 seconds or wrap the paper towel-covered stack in a layer of foil and bake in a 250°F oven for about 15 minutes. Either way, keep the tortillas wrapped until you’re ready to use them so they stay warm and pliable.
Makes about 1 1/3 Cups
This sweet, tropical salsa with a little kick really complements the fish tacos. It’s also good with grilled meats and seafood. If you like a lot of heat, add more jalapeño.
1 cup finely diced pineapple (from about 1/4 pineapple)
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
In a small bowl, stir together the pineapple, jalapeños, onions, and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Check the seasonings. The Pineapple Salsa will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for about 4 days.
Reprinted from Keepers by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion. Copyright (c) 2013 by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.