Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fish tacos with gingered mango salsa

There's a spirited, longstanding, ongoing debate in food writing over who invented the fish taco. Ensenada certainly gets the most credit for it, but that may simply be the spoils of convenience – Ensenada is right across the border from my hometown, San Diego, making it easy for foodie luminaries like Calvin Trillin to sample the wares and declare it, unequivocally, the best, and probably the first, fish taco in the world.

San Felipe, on the other hand, is almost three hours' drive from the border towns of Calexico and Mexicali, which themselves are in the middle of nowhere. I've been there twice, and it wasn't easy either time. The trip requires passage through a windswept, empty desert, not to mention two or three sketchy-looking military checkpoints. But it's worth it – San Felipe's population of fishermen/cooks, for my money, make the best – and probably the first – fish tacos in the world. My mom was in town this week, reminding me of our first trip there together, and so I made this dish.


Time: 30 minutes

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless perch fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 scallions, chopped

Mango salsa:
2 mangos
1/2 red onion
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced, with half its seeds
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all salsa ingredients, veggies roughly chopped, in a food processor and pulse.

Heat three tablespoons oil in a large skillet. Saute scallions for one minute, then saute fish for two. Pour over lime juice, and saute for another minute, until cooked through.

Serve fish in corn tortillas. Pour salsa on top, and garnish with cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings


Stingdor May 18, 2008 at 8:46 PM  

How dare you bathe your taste buds with the briny life of my fellow sea creatures?!?!?! Bold, nay insolent. Retribution will be mine!

Also, let it be known that your framing of the dispute over the origin of fish tacos is a boorish misrepresentation. Stingrays invented and honed to perfection the fish taco eons ago.

Matty May 19, 2008 at 9:41 AM  

drool!!!!!! For my peso, it's Ensenada!

Jon May 19, 2008 at 10:08 AM  

Yea, that's what I thought too--until I made my first trip to San Felipe.

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