Ah, the humble fish stick. When I was a kid, my favorite meal was fish sticks, macaroni and cheese, and whatever green vegetable was riding shotgun. I still love fish sticks, and so do my kids. And while they’re terrific with tartar sauce, sometimes it’s fun to take the familiar and shake it up. And that leads us to – Baja-style Fish Tacos!
These tasty treats may be unfamiliar to you if you’ve never visited Southern California or farther down south, into the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Fish tacos in Southern California are part of surf culture, the favorite food of stereotypically blonde, tan dudes with surfboards who say “gnarly” and wear shorts year round. And while they’re pretty easy to find in my neighborhood, they probably aren’t in yours. So make ’em yourself!
There are a few basic, mandatory components to the fish taco. First is corn tortillas – save the flour tortillas for burrito night. Next is the fish: regular fish sticks will work, as will the larger fillet-style pieces, but you definitely want the crunchy breading. Also important are the cabbage and cilantro – regular old green cabbage, sliced as thinly as possible (but not shredded like in coleslaw), and plenty of leafy cilantro. Last comes a big squeeze of lemon or lime. I like the “crema” listed in this recipe, but you can also use regular tomato salsa too. After these ingredients, you can add more to suit your taste – diced onion, avocado, even shredded cheese.
Are you ready to do this? Cowabunga!
- 1 package fish sticks
- 1 package small yellow or white corn tortillas
- 1 small head cabbage
- 1 bunch cilantro (use the rest to make the Fajitas Salad!)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
- 1 large lemon or lime
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- salsa, avocado, cheese, green or red onion, or whatever else you like on your tacos
- Bake the fish sticks according to the package directions. While they are cooking, slice the cabbage as thin as possible. If you have a food processor, you may want to try that. Wash the cilantro and remove the tough stems.
- Prepare the crema: Whisk together the mayo, sour cream, and the juice of half the lemon. Stir in the cumin and refrigerate until ready to use. If it’s too sour for you, add a dash of sugar. You can also add tabasco or a little chipotle right to the crema. Or, my favorite, if you have any leftover dressing from making the Fajitas Salad, use this in place of the crema!
- Wrap as many tortillas as you need in a damp dishtowel. Place the dishtowel between two plates to seal it up, and microwave for 30 seconds. This gets them hot, flexible and delicious!
- To assemble: Lay out your tortilla (some people use two at a time, which keeps it from ripping or falling apart) and spoon a little crema on the bottom. Top with fish sticks, sliced cabbage and plenty of cilantro. Squeeze a little lemon on top, and add any other optional ingredients you like.
Explore, experiment, enjoy! — Dana
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