Eat in the heat: #3 Fish tacos with homemade tortillas, pickled cabbage and salsa
February 20, 2015
One of my favourite family style meals, these fish tacos are incredibly tasty, easy to make and fun for the children to put together at the table. They also make the best of local ingredients that are tasty, fresh, easy to get hold of and very affordable.
The fish that I use here, which is my favourite Barbadian fish, is mahi mahi, locally known (rather confusingly) as dolphin (no relation - mahi mahi often swim alongside dolphin pods and use similar migration paths). A firm fish with a sweet mild flavour similar to swordfish, I buy it from one of my local fish markets (Oistins or Bridgetown) and watch the fresh whole fish being expertly filleted into pale pink steaks which I always cook on the same day. You can use any fish you choose for this meal - but make sure it's as local and fresh as possible.
You can, of course, substitute the homemade tortillas for shop bought, but I urge you to give them a try if you have time. It's a yeast free recipe so there's no proving and just a few minutes of (theraputic) kneading involved. And by making your own you ensure that there are no unwanted added ingredients. There's also no comparison in taste and texture - homemade tortillas really do bring the whole meal to another level.
Six fish steaks or fillets (or enough firm fish for six people)
2 tspn ground corriander
2 tspn ground cumin
1/2 tspn smoked paprika
Pinch sea salt
Glug of olive oil
Tortillas (two per person)
500g organic plain flour
Pinch sea salt
2 tbspn olive oil
150ml cold water
Half a white cabbage or a mixture of red and white, shredded
1 1/2 tbspn cider vinegar
Pinch sea salt
Small bunch fresh corriander
2 spring onions (also known as scallions or, in Barbados, chives)
1 clove of garlic
4 medium sized fresh and juicy tomatoes or one large punnet of baby plum tomatoes
An avocado (if in season)
Pinch sea salt
A fresh chilli (optional - if you want to keep it child friendly)
Heat your oven to 200 degrees celsius (400 f).
Start by making the tortillas. Into a large bowl, place the flour and salt, then stir through the olive oil and cold water, mixing until it forms a dough. Dust a hard surface with flour and tip the dough onto it. Kneed by stretching the dough away from you, folding it overand then flipping it back on itself with a thump. Try and do this about 50 times or until it becomes stretchy - you'll be surprised by how therapeutic it is! Once it's ready, flour the surface again and halve the dough, then halve again and split each piece into four. You should have sixteen small, equally sized balls of dough. I like to make double the amount I'm going to eat and freeze the rest. Cover with a tea towel and leave until you're ready to cook.
Next prepare the fish. Add a glug of olive oil to a shallow dish along with the spices and salt and mix with your fingers. Then place the fish into the dish and keep turning it over with your hands until all the pieces are well coated. Cover with a tea towel.
For the pickled cabbage, simply put the cabbage in a lovely serving bowl, pour over the vinegar and turn the cabbage over with your hands to mix through. Sprinkle with salt.
For the salsa, get your hands on a good, small, sharp, serated knife. Chop the spring onion, then the tomato and avocado into equal bite-sized pieces. Finely chop the garlic and corriander. Add to a serving bowl, gently mix with your hands then squeeze over the juice of a lime. Finish with a sprinkle of salt. Add chopped fresh chilli if you/ your children like.
Now make the tortillas. You can either make them all now or, if you're pushed for time, cook eight (enough for four people) and put the rest of the dough in the fridge until you have time.
If you're cooking eight tortillas, put the dish of spiced fish into the oven now. Otherwise, wait until you've made around ten tortillas before putting it in.
Flour your surface again and roll the balls into circles. You'll need to do this in batches as you go. Put a good non stick frying pan onto a medium-high heat and add a tortilla. Let it cook for around 2 minutes or until golden, then flip and cook the other side. Stack the tortillas then wrap in foil to keep warm.
Check to see if the fish is done after 15 minutes . It should be firm and cooked through to the middle. You want it to be juicy and not too dry.
When the tortillas are done bring all the dishes to the table. Assemble by topping a tortilla with some salted cabbage, then add some fish, then salsa, and roll up! I add a drizzle of hot chilli sauce before I roll up. The kids like a bit of grated cheddar. Try them out. You won't be disappointed.