I read that the term taco comes from a Spanish word meaning “light snack” but these overstuffed eight-inch tacos were anything but light. Speedy and I had one taco each and we were full.
What makes these fish tacos “Asian style”? The fish, for starters — I used bangus (milkfish) back fillets. Second, the salsa. Although made with rather generic vegetables, the combination of seasonings and herbs is very Asian. The salsa was seasoned with rice wine vinegar, patis (fish sauce), sugar and black pepper. And, for that slant and kick that only fresh herbs can provide, I chose Thai basil, mint and cilantro. The result? Spicy, tangy and sweet tacos that smell like you’re walking through an herb garden.
Recipe: Fish tacos, Asian style
- 3 to 4 bangus back fillets, cut into one-inch cubes (see notes after the recipe)
- 3/4 tsp. of salt
- 1/2 tsp. of black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. of cayenne
- 1/4 c. of corn or tapioca starch (all-purpose flour is a passable substitute)
- about 2 c. of vegetable oil for frying
- 4 tortillas (corn, flour or whole wheat — your choice)
For the salsa:
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into half-inch cubes
- 4 to 6 tomatoes, cut into half-inch cubes (see notes after the recipe)
- 2 red onions, roughly chopped
- about 10 Thai basil leaves, chopped
- about 10 mint leaves, chopped
- cilantro, as much or as little as you like (some people are scared of cilantro), chopped
- 4 tbsps. of rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsps. of patis (fish sauce)
- 2 to 4 tbsps. of sugar, depending on your taste
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 bird’s eye chili, finely chopped
- Make the salsa seasoning. In a small bowl, mix together the rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, garlic and chili until the sugar is dissolved.
- Place the cucumber, tomatoes, onions, chili, basil, cilantro and mint in a shallow bowl. Pour in the seasoning. Toss lightly but thoroughly (i.e., do not mix vigorously) to make sure that every bit of vegetable catches some of the seasoning. Leave to macerate while you prepare the fish.
- Season the fish with salt, pepper and cayenne.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan.
- Toss the fish cubes with the starch.
- Fry the fish cubes, in batches if your pan is rather small, until lightly browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels.
- Strain the vegetables so that they don’t make the tortillas soggy. You can serve the liquid as a dipping sauce.
- In a clean pan, warm the tortillas.
- Assemble your tacos. You have enough fish and salsa to make four. Optionally, you may start by lining the tacos with a crisp leafy vegetable. Baby arugula or shredded lettuce or cabbage are good choices. Scatter a generous amount of fish cubes over the greens. Spoon a generous amount of salsa over the fish. Serve your tacos and enjoy.
You can remove the skin of the fish if you like. Personally, since the skin holds the flesh together, I retain it rather than risk having the fish flesh fall apart during cutting and handling.
If your tomatoes are too watery (i.e., too many seeds and very thin flesh), you may want to scoop out the seeds before cutting the flesh.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 7 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4