Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Story of the Fish Taco

Fish tacos might be a staple among California surfers, but those of us landlocked in the Midwest have to search far and wide for the ultimate yum. A fish taco, if done right, is pure goodness. What makes a superb fish taco you ask? When all the components - fish, tortilla, sauce, and the fixings - work together harmoniously, the fish taco is no less than fabulous.

The type of fish can very but is usually a mild white fish. The standards are cod, halibut, snapper, flounder, swordfish and catfish. The fish can be fried or grilled. Nontraditional fish tacos might have shrimp, crab or salmon.

The fish is tucked into the fold of a tortilla (corn or flour). Unlike the hard shell common to ground meat tacos, the tortilla in a fish taco is soft shelled. A white Baja sauce clings to the fish. The mayo based sauce has additives such as lime, peppers, vinegar and spices. Then come the toppings. They can include lettuce, cabbage, salsa fresco (red and green), pico de gallo, cheese, tomatoes, guacamole, peppers, pickled jalapenos, beans, and a sprinkle of cilantro. And of course the essential finishing spritz of lime.

If made right, a fish taco is a mess to eat. Everything tumbles out and your fingers get goopy. The fish taco, it should be noted, is an entrée best consumed with beer or Margarita.

Tacos de pescado have been consumed in the coastal areas of Mexico for thousands of years. They originated in Baja California. Then in 1983 the fish taco migrated to America. That was the year Ralph Rubio opened Rubio's - Home of the Fish Taco in San Diego. Thank the surfers for their success (dude). Fish tacos remain most popular in California (the lucky bastards have street vendors serving up fish tacos) and the Southwest.

Landlocked we may be, but we are also determined to find the ultimate fish taco. As part of our “research” we will eat every fish taco found in the Greater Saint Louis region. We will eat and we will share our thoughts with you all. Let us know what you think of the fish tacos reviewed. And let us know what unexplored menus have the heavenly morsels to taste.

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