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Mexican Pescadillas = fish tacos?

I had pescadillas at a local joint. They were fish tacos. The shell was crisp, fried and light. It was filled with fresh fish that was not battered, topped with thick crema and lettuce.

It wasn't like a taco durado though. The shell was very light and thin.

Looking around on the web I'm not finding much, a couple of references that these might be Oaxacan. These are not the same as Baja battered fish tacos with the thin dressing and cabbage.

Anyone have any more info? Is the term meaningless in terms of location? Is that just the term for fish taco in Mexico?

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  1. I have heard of a term called picadas - which I believe is a regional antojito. Other than that, all I could come up with is that it a play on words: combining pescado with quesadilla, but you didnt mention any cheese? Wish I could better help.

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    1. Try searching for reference with regard to Acapulco or the Mexican state of Guerrero. I know several Mexicans who feel that fish tacos actually developed and evolved in the Acapulco area mid-20th century and that the concept was taken to Baja by someone originally from Acapulco or Guerrero.

      In some ways it is logical and probably even plausible, especially when you stop to consider that a lot of the early migration to northern Baja and California in the 40s-60s was from Jalisco and related coastal states and communities.

      There are very thin, almost delicate, corn tortillas in some parts of Mexico. They are sublime and when fried, would probably produce a taco shell similar to your description.

      1. When in doubt, check the *Diccionario Enciclopedico de Gastronomia Mexicana* by Ricardo Munoz Zurita. (Not available in the U.S. and not available in Eglish). He has two entries for Pescadilla.

        1) Sphyraena Guachancho. It's a type of fresh fish. There is a photo of it in the Diccionario and it looks a lot like barracuda. Approx. 60 centimeters in length it lives in the Gulf of Mexico. The flesh is mild and soft. Best cooked whole, can be fried, breaded, battered or with mojo de ajo.

        2) (This is a pretty literal translation). A type of quesadilla made by folding a corn tortilla around a fish stew and then frying in oil and accompanied by salsa picante. The fish is prepared with onion, garlic, chile, tomato, olives, cumin, bay leaf and canela. It is an antojito customarily found along the coast of Guerrero.

        5 Replies
        1. re: DiningDiva

          wow....awesome book, did you get it in Mexico, Dining Diva?

          I was at Ritmo Latino next to El Tigre and I noticed a series of Mexican cooking books for about $6 each, each title concentrating on an Estado de Mexico. I believe they had Jalisco and Aguascalientes.

          1. re: kare_raisu

            IIRC, I got the Diccionario in Oaxaca City. It is currently not in print, mostly because print runs are much smaller in Mexico than they are in the U.S. and often rely on outside funding to help finance the printing. The book is not impossible to find in Mexico, though it can be difficult. In D.F. it can often be found at the Ghandi bookstores. It is a tremendous resource.

            Next time you look at the books at Ritmo Latino see if they are part of the Conaculta series. There are about 50+/- separate titles. The series focuses entirely upon specific indigenous and regional cuisines and often where there is an indigenous language, such as Zapotec in Oaxaca or Purepacha in Michoacan, the volume will be in both the indigenous language and Spanish. These are an incredible treasure trove of information about Mexican food. Conaculta is a government agency dealing with the indigenous and popular cultural arts. This series of books was the brain child of one of it's recent directors. It's a remarkable legacy. They are in Spanish.

            If El Tigre has a Mexican style newstand, check it out. In Mexico almost every newstand has tons of magazines clipped all over, among them cooking magazines. Most of these are glossy color affairs. A magazine may be devoted to a particular theme, like moles, or chicken, ensaladas, enchiladas, pastels, dietetica, and the like. They are a hoot to read - and it is a good way to learn Spanish, btw - and the recipes really aren't half bad. The magazines are produced by cooking schools, appliance and food manufacturers. They're usually not terribly expensive. Sanborn's always has a ton of them, and there's a Sanborns in Ensenada right next to the fish market.

            1. re: DiningDiva

              You can purchase online from Clio... but shipping from Mexico is always very expensive. Here is a link to the 24th & Latest Volume...

              http://www.clio.com.mx/cgi-bin/store/...

              Another interesting source is a series on foreign culinary influences in Mexican cuisine:

              http://www.clio.com.mx/cgi-bin/store/...

              There are books for Spain, Europe, Orient & the Americas.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                Here is one on Colonial era culinary innovations from the various convents... which were the major culinary driving force during that time:

                http://www.clio.com.mx/cgi-bin/store/...

          2. re: DiningDiva

            Thanks. It is probably closer to the second. No garlic sauce and I doubt that this little place would spring for an odd fish. The fish itself might not have as much going on as your description, but it was something more than simply cooked fish. Yeah, I'm guessing definately fried in oil, though not battered.

          3. I had a "quesadilla Mazatlan" at our favorite Mexican place that was basically a quesadilla with shrimp, salmon, blue crab and cheese. Definitely a quesadilla and not a taco. I didn't ask why they named it Mazatlan, other than the sea connection.

            1. I haven't heard the name.... but the description fits right in with dishes that are called Quesadillas around Mexico State & Morelos. There the indegenous women tend to call any folded, fried taco a Quesadilla whether it has Cheese or not.

              Typical stuffings include Braised Fish, Smoked Fish, Mushrooms, Squash Blossoms, Huitlacoche & dozens of other less typical Quesadilla or Taco fillings.

              1. Apologize for the resurrection but DD is right on the money with the Acapulco provenance - as pescadillas are featured on a menu of a new restaurant in San Diego called El Sabor de Acapulco. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/513992

                Will report back when I try them out!

                1. Hey there, i think i can answer your question.
                  like many other people here have said, pescailla is a quesadilla with a fish fillin, i happened to be from Acapulco and i learned how to make them from my grandma, they are very simple to make and quite delicious, i'll give u the recipe, i can actually make them with canned tuna actually, i love serving them with a chile de arbol sauce which i will also share with you, i'll post that recipe tomorrow for you.

                  1. I have actually had pescadillas in, of all places, Cancun, a Mexican location not really known for its food (although cocina yucateca is really wonderful). There is a very small seafood stand called El Galleon del Caribe that is located almost directly across from the Royal Solaris Hotel on the Lagoon side, not too far from the Airport. It is right on the lagoon, and not visible from the road at all – down a flight of stairs. The fish is local and is finely chopped. It is placed in a tortilla that is folded over and quickly fried. It is served with a mild warmed salsa that is made with Guajillo chiles. The place is referred to locally simply as Las Pescadillas. Tacos cost 13 pesos each (about $1.05). This place is not easy to find, but well worth it. Any of the laborers in the area will know it, as will the waitstaff and cleaning staff of the local hotels. They also serve fresh fish (whole or by the piece) as well as Camarones con Ajo (Shrimp with garlic sauce), but the real attraction is the pescadillas. (I have attached a photo of one - sorry about the bite that is missing, but it was so good, I could not restrain myself).