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Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa and Colombian Guacamole

August 12, 2009

fish tacos

If I remember correctly, the first time I ever ate a fish taco was at Keegan’s Grill on East Camelback (near 32nd St.) in Phoenix. We used to love to go to that place and, although they later settled on Mahi tacos for their menu, what I first enjoyed there was a halibut taco with black beans. Its nearest rival in the Valley of the Sun could be found on the menu at Z’Tejas. Ever since then, I have made it something of a hobby to compare the ingredients, types of fish (and relative success), and other variations between the myriad fish tacos I’ve encountered, although I’m certainly not as obsessive as these guys. For the record, the best fish taco I have ever eaten was at Tako Taco, a hole-in-the-wall near Waimea on the Big Island.

Since we had avocados, mangos, and limes on hand, I figured it was time to take the fish taco out for a spin this week—but with a twist. Instead of just cabbage or lettuce with tomato, beans (black or refried), fish, and some kind of sauce, what if I accessorized the tacos with homemade guacamole and mango salsa? I decided to roll up my sleeves and give it a try.

First, I needed some salsa ideas. I knew that Bobby Flay would be the person to consult for a fruit salsa; just out of curiosity, I thought I would ask Nordic Babe and see if she had ideas. “Hey, honey, where would you turn to find a good mango salsa recipe?” Disinterested answer, as she walked through the dining room: “How ’bout Bobby Flay.” So that part of the equation was solved. A few modifications later, I had a tangy, fruity salsa—or is it a relish?—ready for taco-filling and chip-dipping:


My Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa — Ta-da!

Next I turned my attention to the guacamole. I remembered how intriguing I had found Steven Raichlen’s BBQ article in July’s Bon Appetit. I vaguely recalled that he had included a guac recipe, and, after consulting that issue, I found that my memory isn’t as bad as I often think it is. 🙂 It turns out that the article included a recipe for Colombian guacamole. As far as I can tell, the primary difference between it and Mexican guac is that the Colombian is smoother (really a purée for dipping) and has a much stronger lime component.  The only modification I made was leaving out the water completely—the consistency was perfect without it. I pentupled the recipe (as I started with a dozen verrrry ripe avocados) and then called a friend to come pick up some of the extra. I am happy to report that it was a hit!


Colombian Guacamole

Colombian Guacamole


As for the fish, I used some orange roughy fillets from Trader Joe’s. I pan-seared them in brown butter, only adding kosher salt for seasoning. I figured that the fish should be simple, given the mountains of flavor already present in the tacos.

I served the tacos with tortilla chips, along with sides of refried beans and Goya Mexican rice (yes, out of the box). The guacamole made the tacos more filling than I had expected, although the taste was incredibly vibrant and complex. In terms of kid-friendliness, the mango salsa was too spicy for the little ones (Drat! I knew the jalapeños I added would push it over the edge), but they devoured the fresh avocado slices I gave them, along with “simplified” tacos and rice. A great time was had by all, and that’s all I can really ask for, eh?

MUSIC: Some random conjunto ranchera, played by Flaco Jimenez… listen here. Why conjunto? Because this dish is such a cultural mash-up,  only Mexican-Mariachi-meets-German/Czech-Polka could match it. And fish tacos supposedly originated in Ensenada. Comprende?

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