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Feb 20, 2008 01:39 PM

the orginal fish taco...

What do you chowhounds consider to be the ORIGINAL fish taco, before all the Americanization and extra adornments?

So far I'm thinking:
some sort of fried white fish (which types are considered original?)
cabbage or lettuce?
pico de gallo?
some sort of creamy sauce?
lime juice
corn tortilla

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  1. In Baja, Mexico, they are typically served with battered fish on a corn tortilla. Usual condiments include shredded cabbage, Mexican crema, cilantro/onions, lime on the side, and salsa. Most places have a variety of different salsas, from pico de gallo to hot red chile salsa.

    1. The oldest fish taco that we know of comes from early Spanish colonial descriptions of Native Mexican traditions. The Aztecs (as most groups in Mesoamerica) were intimately tied to water which generated the bulk of non-veggie protein.... specifically we know the Aztec middle class had their major meal in mid-morning ideally consisting of the Fresh Catch (Crawfish, Freshwater Shrimp, Native Whitefish, Salamanders, Frogs etc.,) usually cooked in a Tomato-Jalapeno sauce... (similar technique as contemporary Molcajete dishes).... these were primarily eaten in Tacos accompanied with Clay Pot Beans & additional roasted chiles... a similar tradition still lives on in many communities from Mexcatitlan (which sits on a floodplain in Nayarit) to Lake Chapala villages to Papaloapan river communities.

      In the Acapulco area... Sea Bass is braised in its juices, shredded then dressed with a thick chile paste... folded into a corn tortilla and deep fried... delcious. In Cabo.. they reconstitute Smoked Marlin with tomatoes, jalapanos, olives & capers... serve on handmade tortillas... nice. In Northern Veracruz... its fish grilled on banana leaf or hoja santa and served with chipotle suaces.... In Oaxaca... they like Octopus braised in Tomato-Epazote sauce etc., etc., there are dozens (probably hundreds) of Seafood Taco styles throughout Mexico.

      When most people talk about Fish Tacos however, they are usually referring to Ensenada style.... beer battered fish (with dried Mexican oregano in the batter), shredded cabbage, mayo based "white sauce", a roasted guajillo salsa, squeez of lime... on a handmade corn tortilla.... delicious.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        Interesting. I first had them in Ensenada in 1983 and your post describes them but I sure do not remember oregano in the batter or even beer. Of course maybe that was because I had already imbibed alot of beer by the time I ate it... To me the big problemo with what we get here is that the ones we ate on the docks or at the Blow Hole were made in front of us and the fish was crispy in contrast to the other ingredients, while the stuff in most places tends to get soggy before it gets to you or dried out if fried ahead and re-fried.

        1. re: torty

          Oh yeah... food like this has to be made in right in front of you... its practically impossible to surpass what the street vendors do.

      2. I read in a food magazine that the tempura-like fish preparation was influenced by Japanese fishermen working in Baja. Has anyone else heard this?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Glencora

          I read that... no way its a romanticized version which would appeal to contemporary consumers... the reality is that both Japan & Mexico got Tempura from the same source... Portugese / Galician colonizers...

          Tempura Like Fish in Mexico is documented as early as late 16th century in Patzcuaro area... Ensenadas fish tacos likely descend from Sinaloa which also has Battered Fish tradition that goes back 300+ years.

        2. Thank you all for these great answers and insight! Keep it coming!

          1. i was taught that the "correct" (lol) white sauce for fish taco's is pink. mix mayo sour cream lime juice and chipotle in adobo, in a blender. I don't know if tis truely authentic, but its damned good

            2 Replies
            1. re: thew

              That sauce makes a very good topping for crab cakes as well. I've made that sauce many times.

              1. re: thew

                That is fine... but in Baja the white sauce is usually white... or really off white to be precise.