Fish tacos for the expecting
Looking for a good recipe for fish tacos that I can make for my wife, who's pregnant. The trouble is, many of the types of fish I've seen recommended for this are in the higher-mercury categories. I know they say pregnant women should just limit, and not completely eliminate, the higher mercury fish from their diets, but I'm perhaps irrationally draconian about this--I feel bad if I serve her anything that's not at the lowest level.
Hence I made fish tacos from a Bobby Flay recipe from the Food Network website las week, but using tilapia rather than what he recommended, and they didn't come out so great. Part of this was that the tilapia wasn't great--I know some people won't even buy it because of the quality problems, but I got a really nice batch last time and so decided to try again, this time with less success.
Other considerations: (1) we live in an apartment, and have no grilling facilities, (2) I have high cholesterol, so a fried-fish approach would be less good for me.
Here's the NRDC's mercury guide, which I've been using.
Any thoughts would be welcome.
Denis, I love a good fish taco perhaps I can help you satisfy that wahoo craving. I bake the fish and usually use halibut with lime wrapped in the oven til tender and then assembly the taco.
Ingredients for fish tacos:
1/4 cup (60mL) fresh lime juice, (juice of 2 limes)reserving 4 thin slices of lime to bake with fish.
1 Tbsp (15mL) olive oil
1 Tbsp (7g) cumin powder
1 Tbsp (7g) chili powder
1/2 Tbsp (1g) oregano
1/2 tsp (2g) black pepper, freshly ground
1 1/2 pounds (170g each) halibut steaks, (four steaks)
4 flour tortillas, 10-inch (25cm) diameter)
2 cups (520g) black beans, canned, or made from scratch
1 cup (110g) reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
In a large zip-lock plastic bag or dish with cover, combine lime juice, oil, cumin, chili powder, oregano and pepper; stir well. Add fish to lime marinade and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Prepare oven (325/medium-high heat). Place fish inside foil wrap with slice of lime and cook 8-10 mins until fish flakes easily when treated with a fork.
While fish is cooking, wrap tortillas in foil and place in oven.
Place black beans in a microwave-safe dish, cover and heat in the microwave.
When fish is done, place it in a dish and flake with a fork. Assemble tacos by spooning beans into the center of each tortilla, add flaked halibut and top with cheese and salsa.
For a good, non-traditional style fish taco with tilapia or other mild-flavored whitefish I like to add as much flavor as possible. One of my favorites is to marinate the fish in the sauce (and some pureed chipotle peppers depending on your desired spice level) from a can of chipotle in adobo with a little honey and salt. I usually grill, but baking would be fine. It is best served in grilled corn tortillas with a fruit salsa. I like to use avacado, mango, citrus (be sure to get some lime juice), serrano, cilantro, red onion, salt, pepper and sometimes pineapple, tomato, or whatever else sounds good. Sometimes I go with the more common cabbage and crema as a topping, but I prefer the fruit salsa.
looking at the NRDC's mercury guide that you are using you would really want to step up to the "moderate mercury" list for the fish options. the fish in the "least mercury" category are generally too small and/or not firm enough. Tilapia generally squeeks by on the firmness factor. Salmon could possibly work, but I would think the flavor would not suit for fish tacos (and quite possibly too oily). Scallops would probably be pretty awesome if you cared to branch over to shellfish.
In the "moderate category", I would go for Bass (striped over black, because of size) or monkfish, followed by mahi mahi, halibut and cod.
If you have a good fish market that you go to I would ask your fishmonger for recommendations on stuff they have in store that would be suitable for a pregnant woman. They should be able to give good recommendations and suggest substitutes if the particular fish you are looking for is not available.
Sole will work. If you quickly panfry it'll hold together fine. Deepfry will work even better, and if you do it right you'll have very little oil in the food.
Salmon does work too, but I think it's better to go with different toppings in that case. With most fish I'll go with sliced cabbage, crema, maybe a bit of salsa and cilatro. With salmon I'd make a fruit-based salsa, say something with pineapple, mango, and chiles. Actually, here's a recipe I posted a while back:
Salmon withPineapple Chipotle Salsa
2 wild salmon filets, about 1/2 lb each
1/4 of a fresh ripe pineapple, cut into small dice
1 chipotle chile en adobo, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of adobo from the chipotles
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 pinch salt
Cook fish as desired. I happen to use a technique nearly identical to the one elmomonster posted yesterday: generously salted and pan fried with oil and a bit of butter to medium doneness.
For the salsa, stir together all other ingredients.
It's more a factor of a fish's diet and lifespan. Those that eat other fish and live longer will build up more mercury in their bodies. While those that have shorter lives and eat lower on the food chain will have less. So small ocean fish like anchovies, sardines, sole, flounder, etc. are safe, whereas tuna, swordfish, etc. are not. It is true that most freshwater are safe, certainly a larger fraction than of oceanfish, but there are still plenty of oceanfish that are okay.
I am lucky to live in New England and therefore almost all of our fish markets are fresh fish. I like to use snapper in my fish tacos, which is a moderate fish, but I have used haddock/cod (not black cod) and hake. When I use these latter choices I spice it up a bit with more chilis. These fish are bland and stand up well to the extra spices.
Congratulations and best of luck!