Who doesn’t like a good fish taco?

I remember the first time I even heard of the concept of this dish. I was 14 years old and visiting my Uncle Jim in Los Angeles. He had just moved out there from Yonkers and was into West Coast Mexican food, including things I’d never tasted or heard of, like fish tacos. Back then I thought “fish” and “taco” were two things not meant to be together. He drove us out of the way to what was lauded as the best joint in the city for fish tacos and when we arrived I chickened out, opting for a vegetarian burrito I’m sure. (This was the year I decided to go veg.)

Well you live and you learn.

These days, I’d almost get on a plane to fly 3,000 miles to try the fish tacos at such a joint. Except now it would probably be a food truck that I’d have to track down on Twitter.

I love fish tacos for their simplicity. Fresh corn tortillas, fish with a nice char to it, maybe some salsa verde, avocado, and lime. And that’s it. Of course there are many possible variations, and it’s hard to go wrong, but you can keep it basic and still revel in a delicious meal.

Last night I made one such version of the fish taco. Was it authentic? Not at all. Was it good? If I do say so myself. I used whole wheat tortillas, not hand-pressed corn tortillas. I concocted a kind of salsa with black beans, fresh sweet corn, just-picked cilantro, roasted yellow peppers, garlic, red onion, shredded carrots, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. I sautéed some fillets of flounder with salt, pepper, butter, and lemon (lime would’ve been even better but I didn’t have any). It was satisfying, relatively cheap, and took all of 30 minutes to throw together. Turns out fish + taco go together quite nicely.

Holly’s Fish Tacos

Serves 2

1 tbsp butter
10 oz flounder (or other white, flaky fish, such as mahi mahi)
cayenne or hot red pepper flakes
fresh lemon or lime juice
1/2 c black beans
2 ears of corn, shucked and the corn kernels cut from the cob, uncooked
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 c roasted red or yellow pepper, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Whole Wheat Tortillas (any kind of tortilla or soft taco will do)
1 avocado, sliced

Heat a skillet with 1 tbsp butter. (But if you have access to an outdoor grill, use it instead.) Wash the fish and pat dry, then season with salt, black pepper, and red pepper. When the pan is hot add the fish and brown on both sides for about 5 minutes per side on medium heat. You want the fish to be cooked through, but still flaky and moist. Toward the end of its cooking squeeze some fresh lemon or lime juice onto the fillets.

While that’s cooking, combine the black beans, raw corn kernels, red onion, garlic, carrot, pepper, and cilantro. Dress with the olive oil and some more fresh lemon or lime juice (maybe 1 tbsp or so). If you’d like to mellow out the raw garlic a little you can let it sit in a small amount of olive oil before combining with the other ingredients. I do this for 5-10 minutes to take the edge off.

Heat your tortillas one by one on your stove’s burner over a low flame. You must keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn or catch fire. I heat them for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. For a crispier tortilla turn the heat up a little bit, but again, don’t turn your back on these because they’ll char quickly.

When the tortilla is hot, transfer to a plate, and fill with some of the fish, the black bean-corn salsa, and slices of avocado. You can add salsa verde or any kind of salsa if you’d like.