Fast and Fabulous Fish Tacos

Baja California is the current hot spot for celebrities seeking romantic sunsets and privacy. But long before the thin and famous arrived, this long strip of beach was already known for fine fishing and great surfing. The surfers, coming off the beach to fuel up, discovered fish tacos, the local specialty.

Food historians agree that, as long as there has been fish, fire and ground corn, Mexicans have probably been cooking fish and eating it wrapped in a tortilla. Food lovers insist that in Baja the combination was refined into the crisp, rich, cool-and-spicy fish taco that is messy to eat but irresistible for food lovers.

No one will ever know which of many Baja street vendors perfected the fish taco. At its most authentic, beer-battered fish is deep-fried and wrapped in a small tortilla along with shredded iceberg lettuce, topped with a creamy sauce, salsa and an essential squirt of fresh lime juice. Eventually, an entrepreneur saw its potential and opened a fish tacos place in Mission Bay, California. The first in a McDonalds-like chain, there are now countless sites serving fish tacos, including the San Diego ballpark.

Better news is that, as the demand for fish tacos moved north and east, so did the desire for a healthier version, and now you can get them made with grilled or baked fish in some places. My preference is pan-frying a firm, white fish, such as cod, in just a touch of oil until the fish is golden and crisp on the outside. Adding shredded cabbage to the iceberg lettuce adds more nutrition and health-protective substances. The cool freshness of this mix sets off the warm fish. If you prefer to use a prepared salsa, be sure to add a splash of fresh lime juice.

The contrast of warm fish, creamy mayo, tangy salsa and crisp veggies makes for a delicious but guilt-free meal.

Fish Tacos -Makes 4 servings.

2 ripe large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1-2 serrano chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 lb. cod or other firm white fish filet, cut in eight 4-inch by 1-inch pieces
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 2/3 cup finely shredded green cabbage (1/2 small head)
1 1/2 cups finely-shredded iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup minced cilantro leaves
Salt and ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the salsa, combine the tomatoes, onion, serrano pepper and lime juice in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and set aside.

In another bowl, combine the mayonnaise and cumin. Season to taste with black pepper and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, preferably heavy, skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish. Cook until golden on all sides and opaque in the center of the thickest part, about 2 minutes per side, 8 minutes in all, turning the fish with tongs or a pancake turner.

Meanwhile, wrap the tortillas in foil. Warm them in the oven until moist and soft, 5 minutes.

To serve, place 2 tortillas on each of four dinner plates.

Sprinkle 1/3 cup cabbage and 1/4 cup lettuce over each tortilla and add a dollop of mayonnaise. Place a piece of fish on top. Add the cilantro to the salsa and spoon a generous amount over each taco. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 313 calories, 9 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat), 36 g. carbohydrate, 25 g. protein, 6 g. dietary fiber, 279 mg. sodium.

The Author:

“Something Different” is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association which operates as the umbrella organization for the network .The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (www.wcrf-uk.org); Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (www.wcrf-nl.org); World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (www.wcrf-hk.org); and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (www.fmrc.fr).

Article Source: Aicr.org

Article Posted: March 27, 2006

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