Oh, fish tacos. You taste like summer vacation. It’s way, way past the first official day of Fall, yet I’ve been clinging. Last week, I was still wearing sandals and not enough layers. I ignored the new fall produce at the market and scooped up a bagful of peaches and tomatoes. By the end of the week I accepted that summer is gone and pulled my tights and coats out from storage. Fall is here! But today, I eat fish tacos. Today I say goodbye to summer.
My favorite fish taco in New York City is at Réunion Surf Bar. It’s one of the few foods I fall in love with over and over again, every single time I have it. I’m too wimpy to ask them how they make it, but last time I was there, I poked around my taco to see what I could identify. These Surf Bar Fish Tacos are not a recreation, but rather my homage to Réunion.
Battered and fried fish is de rigueur for tacos, but you know me. I’m not a big fan of deep frying. Why ruin what would otherwise be a healthy dish? I lightened up the recipe with some crispy panko-crusted baked fish. I’ve also included a stupid easy guacamole recipe if you don’t want to use store-bought stuff but can’t be bothered to make real guac. You’ll appreciate the Last Minute Guacamole when you have an ingredient list this long!
Surf Bar Fish Tacos
Makes 6 tacos
1 12oz fillet of tilapia, or other whitefish
Olive oil or cooking spray
1 egg white
6 tablespoons panko
2 tablespoon flour
Salt and pepper
6 corn tortillas
Block of Monterey Jack cheese
6 tablespoons guacamole (see recipe below)
1 medium tomato, de-seeded and finely diced
1 jalapeño, de-seeded and finely diced
1 scallion, finely diced
Small handful of shredded red cabbage (optional)
1 small carrot, shredded
2 tablespoons of Thousand Island Dressing, or mayonnaise
2 limes, quartered
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the fish fillet into 6 2oz strips. Grease a baking sheet with the olive oil or cooking spray. Mix the panko and flour in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dip each fish strip into the egg white, then the panko mixture to coat all surfaces. Place the crusted fish strips on the baking sheet and bake the fish on the top rack of the oven for about 5 minutes until cooked through, turning the baking sheet once for even cooking.
While the fish is cooking, start heating up the tortillas one by one in a dry pan over a low flame, until soft and warm. Wrap warm tortillas in a clean cloth.
Mix the diced tomato, jalapeño, scallion, and shredded cabbage together in a small bowl to make salsa mixture. In another small bowl, stir in a couple dashes of hot sauce into the thousand island dressing or mayo. Add the shredded carrot to hot thousand island or mayo, and mix it up.
Now you’re ready to assemble the tacos. First, cut a very, very thin strip of cheese, about an inch wide and about the length of the tortilla. Place it in the middle of a tortilla. Top the strip of cheese with a tablespoon of guacamole. Layer 2 tablespoons of salsa and cabbage mixture, then a strip of baked fish on top. Garnish with a tablespoon of dressed shredded carrot and cilantro leaves. Repeat with the rest of the tacos. Serve each with a wedge of lime.
Last Minute Guacamole
Makes about 1/2 cup
2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper
Cut avocados in half and remove pits. Scoop the flesh out of 3 avocado halves and put in a blender. Pour lime juice in. Give it a few pulses until you have a smooth consistency. Cut the flesh of the last avocado half into small cubes and gently mix them into the guacamole. Done!