Fish Tacos: a Costco Confessional
I have a confession. I have a shameful love for Costco. I love pushing the over-sized shopping cart, flashing my membership card like an exclusive badge of honour, perusing what’s on sale this week and making note of what’s available in the tech section which almost always begins with a large screen television that is both ridiculously bigger and ridiculously cheaper than what I’ve got at home. Cue the want.
As I snake from there past the office products, to the home renovation section and into the cleaning supplies, I consider possible tracks for business and life if I bought this giant pack of pens or this sliding door shower. I am in the process of project making. Almost subconsciously, my cart gets filled with stuff that I didn’t think that I needed before coming, and make me question how I’ve managed this long without it. I did come here with a pre-determined project though I can’t really remember what it was until I finally make it to the back of the store… oh ya: Dinner.
Angela and I text throughout the day, topics are musings of the day – what’s trending on Facebook, the funny/incredulous things are kids are saying these days and ultimately at some point this: “WFD?” That’s our short code for “what’s for dinner?”
On a day when I’m visiting Costco, that usually means I’m shopping for the weekend/week/month/armageddon and I am considering all the dishes within the realm of possibilities and how this wonderful store makes it that much more possible. Giant Avocados? Check. Box of Mangoes? Check. Giant Box of Panko Crumbs? Check! Fish Tacos! let me migrate this cart back to the fish section!…. ugh….how did this cart get so heavy?
I find a tray of line caught Haddock that’s wonderfully filleted and start salivating over the idea of what will eventually be going in my mouth. Meanwhile I add a bag of limes and – what the heck – a case of Corona – because now I have limes. I check in with Ange and she reminds me that should invite people over – because there’s no way we can consume all this food by ourselves:
Disclaimer: I don’t normally write recipes because, well, I don’t normally follow them. But because I’ve been asked on several occasions for this one – and I carry some guilt over not being able to invite everyone over here is my feeble attempt.
A good fish taco is a wonderful balance of flavour and texture, and toppings are almost as important as the fish itself. “Build-Your-Own” type dinners kind of imply a simplicity to everything, but everything added together can be a little bit of a production so step planning is key.
Here’s what goes into the spread:
Crispy Fried Haddock
Spicy Pickled Red Onions
Additional toppings: Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese, Salsa and Sriracha (of course)
Crispy Fried Haddock:
3 lbs Fresh Haddock, cut into taco sized pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup flour
Juice of 1 lime
handful of chopped cilantro
Vegetable or Canola Oil for frying
Fresh Corn Tortillas
Equal parts Ataulfo Mangoes, Red Onion, Cilantro and Chopped Red Peppers. Lime Juice.
3 Large Avocados
3 cloves garlic
1/4 finely diced red onion
1 diced roma tomato
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
Juice from 1 or 2 limes
Salt to taste
Pickled Red Onions (adapted from epicurious.com):
1/2 Red onion, sliced thinly
2 Jalapeños sliced
1 Cup Seasoned Rice Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Step One: Fish Prep
As I’m cutting the fish I season it with salt and white pepper. White pepper is my secret weapon for everything – my mom goes back to Malaysia once maybe every five years, and I get her to bring back enough to last me until the next trip. I have not-unreasonable fears that the bags of dirty white powder get confiscated at the border.
I marinate the fish in what ends up being something similar to a loose savoury pancake batter – Beat the egg with the buttermilk together and mix in the flour with pinch of salt and pepper. Add the lime juice, cilantro and fish pieces and then mix just until the fish is coated. Cover and refrigerate for up to an hour.
Step Two: Toppings
Mango Salsa: Dice all ingredients and mix
Guac: Mash avocados with garlic, onions, lime juice and cilantro – salt to taste, when just about ready fold in diced tomatoes.
Pickled Red Onions (from epicurious.com): Combine vinegar, lime juice and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until salt dissolves. Pour over over onions and jalapeños (ensure they are in a heatproof bowl!).
Step Three: Fry Fish
I make an assembly line of sorts, from left to right of the marinated fish, big mixing bowl of panko, sauté pan of with about 1 inch of oil, and then a metal strainer on top of a mixing bowl to receive and drain the cooked fish. Finally in a pre-heated oven at 275ºF keep the fish warm and crispy, but not overcooked.
Heat the oil to 350ºF and work in batches, dredging the fish in the Panko breadcrumbs, and then frying in the oil until golden brown – flipping occasionally. When ready remove from oil and place in the metal strainer to allow the excess oil to drip off keeping the fish crispy. When sufficiently drained, place the cooked fish in the oven to keep warm.
Step Four: Eat!
Prep the tortillas by warming them up on a naked non-stick pan for about 8-10 seconds each and then serve everything buffet-style.
Makes too many servings for 4 adults and 5 kids.