Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tourist Fun and some (Healthy) Breaded Fish Tacos

With hubby's busy grad school schedule, we certainly don't get to clown around on the weekends as much as we used to. Our usual weekend itinerary goes a little like this... hubby's locked away in the office, head in the books...I, on the other hand spend my Saturdays out in the sun by the pool. Poor guy.

Well, last weekend we were lucky to have a sunny day to spend some time together doing fun touristy things around "America's Finest City" (San Diego, for those of you wondering). We spent the early afternoon enjoying margaaritas from the ocean view deck of the Hotel Del Coronado, soaking up the sunshine...and walking around the beautiful Coronado Island beaches.

During a nice, long stroll we proceeded to find the house of our dreams on the beach. Now, I just need to win the lottery. If you own this house, please call me. I'd be happy to be your maid.

After a rough afternoon of drinks and walks along the beach, we headed to the Gaslamp district to sip even more margaritas and grab a late lunch on an outdoor patio basking in the sun. We happened upon a somewhat cheesy Mexican joint, though it fit the bill since we were both in the mood for tacos.

By default, I always order fish tacos. I'm on a little bit of a San Diego area-wide fish taco taste test quest. You see, they're somewhat of a staple here. While Chicago has its Italian Beef and deep dish pizza, San Diego has amazing fish tacos.

While the fish tacos were tasty and satiated my craving, I thought back on my days in the Midwest where I'd cook fish tacos all the time. They didn't appear on many menus, and if they did, it was usually at a bar - not really the freshest source of fish in my opinion. It became my signature dish, seeing as they were a rare commodity. Once we moved to San Diego, we've had so much fun on our fish taco taste testing that my beloved taco recipe has fallen to the wayside.

So, today I bring you Part 2 of my Limes series: (Healthy) breaded fish tacos. I put healthy in parentheses because though these are not deep fried, its still hard to imagine anything breaded as healthy.

This is a dish I've been making for many years now, way before I realized fish tacos were somewhat trendy. (Gosh, I'm such a culinary pioneer.) Since I've been making these for years, documenting the exact recipe is a little tricky though I think this comes close. Traditionally, San Diego fish tacos are served on a charred corn tortilla with crispy fish draped in a smooth mayo-based sauce. To lighten things up, I substitute the mayo sauce with fresh pico de gallo, corn kernels and a few spinach leaves to add a smidgen more vitamins.

The fish are coated in a cornmeal breading and lightly pan fried with nothing but nonstick cooking spray. For the breading, I would highly suggest Andy's fish breading. It may not be available in all areas, but its by far the best I've tried. It lends a crispy coating without deep frying, and is seasoned to perfection. If you can't find it (look around the seafood counter), I suppose that another cornmeal-based breading would work.

Andy's Crusted Fish Tacos
Juice of one lime
1 pound of tilapia (or mahi mahi), cut into 1/4 inch chunks
dash of salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
2 egg whites
1 tbsp milk
1/2 cup of Andy's Fish Breading
4-6 flour or corn tortillas, warm
1 tablespoon cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of chopped spinach or cabbage
Assorted veggies (i.e. corn kernels, avocado slices)

Pico de Gallo
Courtesy of Rachael Ray
1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 white onion, coarsely chopped
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For pico de gallo, mix ingredients together and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Fish Tacos:
1. Sprinkle fish with lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
2. Setup breading station:
-In a medium bowl, whisk together garlic powder, egg white and milk. Place fish pieces into egg mixture.
-On a flat, shallow dish, sprinkle a thin layer of fish breading. Pour additional breading as needed.
3. Dredge fish chunks into cornmeal breading, several pieces at a time making sure that the fish are not covered in excess egg. Set the prepared fish aside.
4. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray liberally with nonstick spray. Pan fry fish one layer at a time.
5. Serve tacos with lime wedges, pico de gallo, cilantro and spinach or cabbage.

Enjoy with a tasty margarita!


grace said...

holy smokes, i'm jealous of that sunshine. the one and only change i would make to your stellar recipe would be to add about 10 times more cilantro. do you think i have an addiction? :)

Julia Goolia said...

OMG I am so excited to be in 'america's finest city' NEXT WEEK! I love the pictures. They make me happy.

Sharon said...

Grace, to be honest, we usually use A LOT more cilantro for ourselves. We also have an addiction so don't you feel bad :)

Julia, I'm sure the weather will perk up for you. Don't believe those weather forecasters. Definitely let me know if you need anymore suggestions!!

Anonymous said...

You probably updated it ages ago, but I love the new blog layout. The header is adorable! I'm so bad about just reading everything from Google Reader...

Anyway, I've never had fish tacos. But your recipe sounds delish. I think I'll pass it on to DH so he can make it for dinner one night!

Marie {Make and Takes} said...

Where were you when I was a newlywed?!! I wish I new how to cook back then and try good tasting fancy food. The fanciest I got was adding Parmesan with my spaghetti! I have learned lots more, but it's been a long road. I will be checking back for yummy recipes. Great site.

Anonymous said...

All my old haunts. I miss the gaslamp district and the Coronado hotel!

The tacos look wonderful!

Sharon said...

Kristal, lucky you - hubby that cooks AND they sell this breading at Schnucks. I actually pick it up when I visit my parents!

Marie, its funny because this is a recipe from our dating ONLY recipe, really. :) I've expanded my horizons since then. BTW, I'd love to be a fun Mom like you one day. I love your projects!

Noblepig, isn't it fun to go out and do something touristy every now and again? Hubby had never been to Coronado!

test it comm said...

Those fish tacos look good and sound fresh and tasty!

RecipeGirl said...

Hey Sharon,

I love to go out and do SD touristy things once in a while. My son and I spent a day in Seaport Village the other day and had loads of fun! Coronado is another fave.

The fish tacos look great. It's our favorite to order as well :) I love to try different versions at home.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wow, margaritas on the veranda of the Hotel Del Coronado? You know how to live in style!

Deborah Dowd said...

These look great and healthy! (I have been wanting to try fish tacos on my family and I think they will really like this version!

tigerfish said...

It looks really fun and a pretty place to be in! Healthy fish tacos too :D

La Bella Cooks said...

Oh wow Sharon, you found my beach house ;) Come on over anytime. Bring those fish tacos, ok?

Sharon said...

Kevin, thanks!

Recipegirl, you've got some great fish tacos on your site as well. Seaport is a fun visit every now and again.

cookiebakerLynn, I wish I could always live in style. :)

deborahdowd, hope they like them. They're very tasty so may go over well with those that don't love fish

tigerfish, anytime you can duplicate a fried taste in a healthier version is a good thing!

Bridgett, if that's the case you're my new best friend!!

Mary said...

If I won the lottery and lived in that house, I'd hire you to be my personal chef, not my maid! Wow, you are so lucky to live that close to the beach.

Pam said...

I love fish tacos and yours looks really good.


vanillasugarblog said...

Oh my goodness I just love fish tacos. And you're right the only place you can find good ones are in Cali. :::sigh::: I miss Cali. One of these days I'm moving back to Cali and I've always said the first thing I do is get a fish taco. :::cue music moving back to cali:::