Have you ever had a fish taco? I went the first 30 years of my life, never having tried one. I honestly thought the concept sounded disgusting. On this last trip to Hawaii, along with Julia and both our husbands, we all decided to be adventurous!
We received numerous recommendations to eat at Leilani’s on the beach at Whaler’s Village and to try their fish tacos. Supposedly, these were voted “Best Fish Tacos in Maui.” Well, if you’re going to try a fish taco for the first time, it makes sense to do it in Hawaii! Let me tell ya, they were amazing. To make sure we weren’t just blown away because our expectations were really, really low, we had fish tacos again on numerous occasions :)
Of course we decided that eating fresh and healthy on the island was wonderful, and how could we eat more like that at home? Yesterday morning I woke up with a mission to find out what I could about buying fresh fish in Michigan. What I discovered was this; it’s not possible. Apparently, there is not a huge market for fishermen on the great lakes any more. Most people out fishing these day are private citizens, fishing for recreation or personal reasons. The very informative man behind the seafood counter at my local, high end market, explained this all thoroughly. He explained that every other store in town does the same thing. They receive a box of frozen fish from Canada, or Panama, or Australia, etc. and take out portions of it to put on display each day. He takes out what he needs for the day in small portions, but many markets un-thaw large amounts and refreeze at the end of the day.
Now, though he said he had heard some really bad stories about Kroger, Meijer and Walmart’s fish selection, he highly recommended Costco’s selection of bagged, frozen fish. Though he did not deny that buying the bag of frozen fish from Costco was just as good as buying it from him at the counter, I went ahead and purchased 2 pounds of Tilapia from him at 6.99/pound.
Rather than make my own, I purchased this fish taco sauce off the fish counter. It seemed to be a similar recipe to those that are mayonnaise and garlic based. Though homemade is always best, this one tasted pretty good!
The fish we had in Maui was pan-seared and held together in one firm piece, rather than being shredded. The problem with frozen fish is it tends to crumble easily. This however, held together nicely! I was happy to see that it is possible, but may be attributed to buying the fish from the counter vs. bagged??
The fish tacos in Maui met the following general criteria:
- Flour Tortilla
- Shredded Cabbage
- Shredded Cheese (Mozzarella or Monterrey Jack)
- Finely Chopped Cilantro
- Firm piece of Mahi-mahi, Tilapia or other white fish (pan-seared with salt and pepper)
- Sour Cream
- Garlic Cream Sauce
- Fresh Tomato Salsa
- Fresh Mango Salsa
That’s about it! Yum! I found a recipe for the garlic cream sauce, here.
In the future, I will probably try making these using the frozen fish, but shredding it up and mixing it with corn and maybe rice. I’m interested in experimenting and seeing if I can get away with stretching the fish a little further by mixing it with fillers. Yea, not as good as the original way. But hey, when you’re on a tight budget, you do what you can! It’s still pretty fresh and healthier than many other meals that come to mind. I hope you enjoy! :)
…Of course, in Hawaii we finished it all off with a piece of hula pie!
The only fish tacos I’ve tried in Toronto (so far) are the ones from Hooked. They were ok. Nothing to rave about. I did however try fish tacos in Texas a few years ago and they were outstanding! I guess if you want tacos made right you must go to where they are authentic.