San Diego Style Fish Tacos
Nick and I recently took a, much over due, week long vacation up the coast. We had a wonderful time camping, hiking, eating, drinking and visiting with his family. We did a ton of great stuff and had a wonderful time together! In our travels we saw and experienced many new things, but one in particular sticks out in our minds: Fish Tacos.
I’m not saying I’ve never had a fish taco, I’ve had plenty. I live in San Diego, CA, it’s nearly unavoidable to have eaten literally hundreds of them! Our revelation was that fish tacos as I know them – grilled white fish, cabbage, Pico de Gallo, avocado with a little shredded or crumbled cheese on a fresh corn tortilla – is not what you get when you order them, more or less anywhere, out side of San Diego County. Los Angeles, I would imagine, probably does them this way. But I’ll never know because I always just drive right through as fast as I can. But stop anywhere north of Santa Clarita and you are in for a rude awakening my friends. As we arrived in Arroyo Grande to visit Nick’s parents, we stopped for lunch at the small, highly Yelp-rated, local fish shop. They had one item on the menu, and in my quick scan of the reviews, Yelpers raved about it. Fish Tacos. After a long drive, and before a probably early dinner, we needed a tasty, fresh nosh for lunch. Fish tacos seemed like just the ticket. We went right in and ordered two for each of us. The sole 20-something attendant behind the counter went right to work on them. In the next 10 minutes he took to prepare our meal we heard A LOT of racket coming from the very open kitchen-like industrial space. We waited patiently but hungrily until they finally arrived. Wow. They were… “impressive” and “interesting” at least. A very generous mound of shredded (shredded?) white fish lightly sautéed in oil, covered in a massive heap of, what they called salsa, and shredded cheese to top it off, all bursting forth from a singular, feeble Mission corn tortilla. Allow me to really put-you-in-it for a moment and describe the “salsa” atop these culinary wonders of the central coast. Imagine, if you are so bold, a healthy serving of canned diced tomatoes gently mixed with delicately sliced green onions….. What? Oh, no. That’s – that’s it. That was the salsa. Yeah.
Anyway, we ate them. We were hungry and paid in full. They were food. I’ll tell you what I told Nick: Those were the most Italian fish tacos I’ve ever had.
So when we got back home a few days later one of the first meals I made was actual fish tacos. Or how I like them at least.
I rounded up some local Wahoo for these little babies and ended up roasting it. Mostly because I wanted to do as few dishes as humanly possible. I would have eaten them off
Fresh White Fish Fillets (Halibut is always my favorite! But any fresh white fish is good. Hell, use salmon, that’s delicious too!)
2 Limes, Zest and Juice One, cut and save the other for serving
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Honey
Freshly Ground Pepper and Salt (I used some Guava Lime Salt that I had on hand)
Fresh Corn Tortillas
Purple Cabbage, shredded
Fresh Pico de Gallo or Salsa
Pepper Jack Cheese/Cotija/Queso Fresco, shredded or crumbled
1. Preheat oven to 400º. in a small bowl combine the lime juice, honey and plenty of salt and pepper. Mix together. Crate a small foil packet for the fish. Coat foil with olive oil. Place fish inside and brush/pour on the lime juice mixture. Roast in the oven for 10-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.
2. While the fish is roasting, toast the tortillas over one of the ranger burners. Take the fish out and baste with juices and throw under the broiler for a minute to get some color on the fish if you’d like.
3. Pile up the fish and fixin’s on 1 or two toasted tortillas.
4. Mmmmmm, it’s good to be home!