For some reason, the mention of fish tacos seems to evoke two reactions from people who have never heard of or tried them. Either they (1) are interested and intrigued; or (2) are completely horrified. I am not sure what the terrifying thing about fish tacos is; maybe people have some sort of Taco Bell image in their head of ground-up fish cooked with taco seasoning from a packet and served in a fried shell. Not so! What makes a fish taco a taco is the fact that it’s fish served on a tortilla. The seasonings and toppings are up to you.
I was intrigued at first; Philip, on the other hand, thought they sounded terrible the first time that I told him they were on the menu, six or seven years ago. I figured, what have we got to lose? We like fish, we like tacos, the worst that can happen is that we don’t like them and I never make them again. That did not happen. We loved them, and after a couple of variations I found a Tyler Florence recipe on FoodNetwork.com that I have reworked to make it a little more convenient and healthy. I have made this recipe so many times I could do it in my sleep. And to answer your question-yes, they’re good!
Start by putting a baking stone or sheet into your oven and preheating to 450 degrees.
Now, make the sauce. About 1/4 cup of mayo (I like the olive oil kind), 1/4 cup sour cream, juice of 1/2 lime (I just love my citrus press!), and about 3/4 teaspoon of chipotle chile powder. Alternately, you could chop up a chipotle pepper and throw that in, but the powder gives the same flavor and is easy to keep in a jar in the pantry. You can add more if you like more heat. Taste it and adjust amounts as needed.
Chop up some cabbage pretty finely. I bought red cabbage because I wanted the color, but I often make fish tacos as a way to use up green cabbage or Napa cabbage left over from other recipes. You could also use slaw mix. I didn’t take a picture of this, but after chopping the cabbage, I rinsed it in a strainer and left it in the sink to drain while I worked on the fish.
You’ll need 1 piece of fish per person. This is tilapia…inexpensive and easy to find. You could use any mild-tasting white fish. Cut each fillet into 4 pieces. Salt and pepper both sides.
Set up the dredging station. You need flour, panko (Japanese) bread crumbs, and an egg beaten with a little milk (two if you’re making a lot).
Dip each piece of fish on both sides first into flour, then egg, then panko, being sure to coat each side completely. After I did this I set the pieces aside on the cutting board until I finished.
This is my oil mister. It’s a Misto and I got it at Marshall’s for $7.99. Pampered Chef sells one as well. A mister will allow you to lightly spray your food with oil, getting a crispy texture and the flavor of the oil without too much fat and without the chemical propellants in store-bought varieties. If you don’t have one, go ahead and use Pam. Then go buy a mister. They’re the best! Put the fish on the preheated stone or baking sheet and mist the tops lightly with oil. Bake for 6-7 minutes, turn, mist again, and bake for another 6-7 minutes.
While the fish is baking, chop some cilantro* (I washed my cutting board!), then heat the corn tortillas. You could use flour, but I think that corn is more traditional, and you could use a pan or a griddle, but I just fire up the burner and throw ’em on! Heat for about 30 seconds, turn, 30 seconds more, and wrap in foil. This one got a little, um, crispy. I’m okay with that, though. *I know a lot of people don’t like cilantro! Some people think it tastes like soap or bleach. For others, it’s an acquired taste. I was one of those. I used to hate it, now I love it. If you hate it, though, don’t sweat it. Just leave it off!
Okay, now for assembly. I use two tortillas per taco (if I’m really watching calories, I’ll use one, but corn tortillas are very low in fat and calories-much better than flour!). Spread on a little sauce, then put two pieces of fish per taco. While it’s not traditional, I use a little cheese. This is Cabot 75% Reduced Fat Cheddar, and it’s fantastic. Next, the cabbage, and finally, the cilantro. If you have salsa, you can throw on some of that, too. I usually do, but I didn’t tonight. I served this with black beans and Mexican rice. Great dinner!