I always claim that San Diego has the best Mexican food this side of Mexico (and that includes all things Tex-Mex). One of the many reason for that is Baja California – an 800-mile long peninsula jutting south of San Diego – where the food is fresh and generally pulled from the sea. It is also the birthplace of the fish taco. I have spent many times in San Felipe or Ensenada chowing down on these simple tacos made from warm tortillas filled with crispy fried fish, shredded cabbage, cilantro spicy salsa made from chilies de árbol, fresh pico de gallo, and silky smooth guacamole from a quirt bottle. <<drool>> There is a real beauty in this simple beach food.
No longer do you have to travel an hour south of the border to get a great fish taco now that they have become so mainstream. To suit my love of cooking outdoors and my desire to cut out so much fried foods (although you can bet that when I am in Baja, I’ll eat ’em as fast as they can make ’em!), I have replaced the crispy fried deliciousness with an equally flavorful spice rub and grilled the fish over direct heat. However, I have kept true to the add-ons including the chilies de árbol salsa, fresh pico de gallo, and taqueria guacamole. You can get the recipes for both salsas and the guacamole here.
Grilled Halibut Tacos
serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 pounds halibut with skin left on (or firm flesh fish – whitefish, snapper, mahi-mahi, cod)
1 teaspoon Ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 cups shredded green cabbage, for serving
¼ cup chopped cilantro, for serving
¼ cup chopped white onion, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
Chiles de Árbol Salsa
Pico De Gallo
Rinse fish with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the Ancho powder, curry powder, cumin, oregano garlic, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Rub the fish with the spice mixture and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
Set up grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. Remove fish from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
Just before grilling, bush and oil the grates very well to avoid sticking and tearing up the fish. Place fish on hot oiled grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until opaque thoughout. Use a spatula to transfer to a cutting board. Peel away the skin and flake the fish into big pieces and transfer to a serving bowl.
To warm tortillas, wrap three stacks of four tortillas in aluminum foil. Place on the grill while the fish cooks and turn a few times until heated through; about 5 minutes
To assemble tacos, place chunks of fish in a warm tortilla, top it with cabbage and any optional garnishes and finish with Taqueria Guacamole, Chiles de Árbol Salsa and Pico De Gallo.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!