Living in a country where food takes center-stage, as a foodie, I was only too happy to try out the various options we saw around us, whenever our wallets allowed it. Our starting point being New York, the melting pot of cultures and cuisines, we always had plenty of cuisines to choose from. We lived in a neighborhood which had every specimen from the world: Asians, Indians, Latinos, Pakistanis, Arabs, and many many more. The atmosphere was peaceful, food was affordable and people were easy to talk to.
The only problem was to choose which, from the myriad Asian stalls selling fresh stir-fries, small eateries with aromatic Caribbean spiced meats, deliciously vibrant hot-dog stands, competitive Mom& Pop restaurants selling spaghetti and Falafels, next to each others door, the list was endless. Back then there were plenty of taco trucks and burrito carts, close to our home, but being fresh parents with a brand new screaming baby, and absolutely no friends or family to give us a break, our dinners were bought from places that sold home-reminiscent comfort foods, craving the little comfort that these could give us.
It wasn't until half a decade passed that I finally tasted a real Taco and fell in love with it. (It was a Baja Fish Taco, eaten hot, on a famished stomach, in the nearest available eatery, on a California vacation!!!)
I was pleasantly surprised to find Cumin, Dry beans, Cilantro, Chilies, Tomatoes and Onions, that were so much a part of Indian cuisine was as much, vital a part of the Mexican cuisine. And the weird tangent of this common-ness made it somewhat special for the both of us. Once we got back, home from the vacation, we looked up the reviews on local Mexican restaurants and frequented the best places where you could have the best tacos, beans and rice, well stuffed burritos and the freshest salsa.
|A home recreated Burrito Meal, as you get @ Taco Del Mar.|
Obviously the best places that served authentic grub, were expensive and good for special occasions, for a tight-fisted couple like us. And the common and cheap ones (hint: starts with a Taco and ends with a Bell) served terrible food that came in high-fat, high carb, loaded with cheese and didn't resemble in anyway, the authentic Mexican cuisine we had fallen in love with. And then we discovered Taco Del Mar, close to home (you wont believe how taste of the same dish varies from franchise to franchise, when it comes to good grub!)
Taco Del Mar, (a Mexican fast Food Chain) means, Taco of the sea, and considering they specialize in Fish Tacos. But unlike the Baja Fish tacos we had, these had fried fish filets and cabbage shreds, and a mild chipotle sauce available on request. We were fairly happy with the grub they served when we craved Mexican food and didnt want to cook. But home food is home food!
On the days when the food was not good or the portions not enough, it always pushed me a little closer to recreating it at home. The trouble was with getting the recipes. Anyone who tries to find an authentic recipe online knows how difficult it is to find a recipe from the millions posted, all claiming to be the best fish taco or authentic chili sauce; that may or may not actually resemble the one you have tasted.
So starting off with fresh ingredients and leaving the radar to my senses, I started making Mexican meals in my very own kitchen.
This recipe is made with that authentic Californian Baja Fish Taco, I tasted in mind. It comes close, if not better. You try it and let me know. :-)
A 12 pack of flour tortillas, taco size
Chopped Cilantro- for garnish
For Baja Chili Sauce:-
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
3 tbsp Mayo
2 tbsp Freshly squeezed lemon Juice
1/2 tsp dry oregano
1 tbsp (or more) Tabasco or Sriracha or any other hot sauce of your choice
Shredded Cabbage- 1 cup
Shredded Carrots- 2
Shredded Onion- 1 small
Cole slaw dressing (If you cant get it, mix 2 tbsp of mayo, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp vinegar and salt & pepper, and you have a good coleslaw dressing)
|Baked Fish Filets|
For Fish Filets:-
6 mild, white fish filets (catfish, cod, tilapia, haddock etc),skinned, washed and each cut into two uniform strips.
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup flour
Salt & pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten with salt and pepper
Oil-- to fry the fish sticks ( Alternatively, you could bake them. See step 4.)
|Large Tortillas, ready to stuffed and devoured by the kids. The milder, fried, fish sticks go in theirs, while the spicier sauce and baked fish go in ours|
1. Mix all the Baja Chili Sauce ingredients together and when well blended, refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Make the slaw, by mixing all the shredded veggies and toss it with the cole slaw dressing, and chill in the refrigerator, until ready to use.
3. Pat the fish sticks with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Season them with salt and pepper. Dip each piece first in flour, then beaten egg, then roll them in crumbs until well coated. Repeat for all the pieces.
4. You could either fry them until golden all over or lay them in a single layer, on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degree F. Turn over after 6-8 minutes and bake for another 6-8 minutes.
5. If frying, drain them on paper towels and keep warm.
6. Warm the Tortillas by sealing them in foil and throwing them in a 350 degree Oven for about 10 mins.
7. Final Assembly: This should be done only right before you eat them.
Lay each tortilla on a flat surface, spread some slaw, lay 2 Fish sticks on top, drizzle the Baja dressing on top of the filets, and fold the tortilla into half. Top with cilantro and serve with a wedge of lemon on the side.
Mamma's Note: These tacos can be fun for adults, but a little tough for kids to eat without making big messes. So use burrito style larger tortillas, and serve these tacos, sealed at the bottom, like a wrap. Lesser messes, lesser cleanup and no interruptions! ;-)