Paddle Meals – Fabulous Fish Tacos
This is an article from WaveLength Magazine, available in print in North America and globally on the web.
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by Hilary Masson
There’s nothing more satisfying than a good fish taco after a long day paddling! This is a specialty in Baja, where there’s an abundance of fish and corn tortillas. This simple delicacy can be made with any type of fish, white fish being optimal. While on a kayak trip, frozen fish can last up to the second day if you bring along an ice pack or place it in a cooler bag, but preferably you experiment with this recipe after a successful fishing excursion. This Fish Taco batter is a great one because it is composed of two ingredients commonly found in any kayaker’s food supplies and can be thrown together at the moment a fish is hooked. A nice touch is to make your own tortillas, as the ingredients are non-perishable and will last in your kayak. Spice it up with a creative fruit salsa. Your fellow paddlers will enjoy building their own tacos, choosing which toppings suit their palate, and let me tell you—they’ll be hooked!
4 cups Masa Harina (corn flour)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups hot but not boiling water
Masa Harina (corn flour) can be purchased in most supermarkets. Place the masa harina and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and mix with your hands to make a dough that comes together in a soft ball. Continue mixing and kneading until the dough is elastic enough to hold together without cracking, about 3 minutes. Divide the dough into approximately 18 equal portions. Then to form the tortillas, place a portion of dough between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper. Press into a circle 6 or 7 inches in diameter, pat with your hands, or use a rolling pin (if no rolling pin can be found while you’re on the beach, try using a pump). Use your fingers to smooth any raggedy edges. Continue with the remaining portions until the dough is used up.
To cook the tortillas, heat a skillet or griddle over high heat until it begins to smoke. Peel the plastic wrap (or wax paper) off a tortilla and place the tortilla in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 30 seconds. Turn and cook on the other side for 1 minute. Turn again, and cook until the corn tortilla puffs a bit but is still pliable, not crisp, about 30 seconds more. Remove and continue until all the corn tortillas are cooked. Serve right away as this is when they are the best.
1 cup pancake mix
3/4 cup beer
Combine pancake mix with beer, stirring only until blended. Makes enough batter for about 2 lbs. (1 kg) fish. Play with any variation on the batter, try adding lemon or herbs. As a general rule, water will make a batter crispier, and milk will make it more tender. If there is batter left over, try pulling out some veggies from your hatch and make up some vegetable tempura.
Rinse fish or seafood and pat dry before dipping in batter. Deep fry in oil for 4 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper, and serve hot.
PAPAYA & CILANTRO SALSA
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
1 small tomato, peeled and seeded
2 bunches cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 3 limes
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the papaya, cut it in half, and remove the seeds. Dice and place in a bowl. Finely dice the bell peppers and tomato. Add the cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix well and check the seasonings.
Any variety of veggies will work to top off the fish. Chop finely and serve in bowls. Try lettuce, onion, peppers and tomatoes. Serve with guacamole and salsa, then enjoy!
Hilary Masson is a guide and part-owner of Baja Kayak Adventure Tours Ltd.