Fish tacos are a feast that cries for warmth. Whether it’s from the sun high in the sky, or via an eyebrow elevating blast of chilli.

The last time I ate fish tacos, I was here.

We were on a  surfing safari in the depths of Baja.  Over the course of a dusty week I discovered an appreciation for beers with my name on them, learned that Baja Bill (the owner of the camp) makes a mean margarita and even managed to totter on top of a few waves.

The tacos came into my life at a pit stop on the long drive back into California. It was a small  road side stall outside Ensenada. We knew they were good, because Baja Bill told us so.

Bill also taught us a good barometer for checking the freshness of the food. His advice was to investigate the temperature of the squeezy bottle of crema. If it boasts beads of condensation, then the crema should be ok to eat. And it’s also probably ok to eat the fish.

A true Baja fish taco has a crispy carapace of  fried batter that protects flakes of white fish. There’s the earthiness of the corn tortilla and some pale and bitter crunch from shredded cabbage. Then there’s some  fatty creaminess from a squirt of sour cream and the sniffingly sour burn of Tapatio chilli sauce.

It’s a perfect, one handed feast that screams of warm weather and sunnier climes.

Suffice to say, it’s been too long between bites.

This version takes the original concept and makes it a little more swimsuit friendly. Instead of battering and frying the fish, here it’s roasted with a gentle crust of coriander leaves and pumpkin seeds.

What you miss in fatty crunch is made with the winning addition of guacamole and the murky heat of  a chipotle lime crema.

To me it’s all about the chipotle-  it offers a baritone note to the light trilling of grilled fish and raw veg. These dried and smoked jalapenos, when toasted, steeped and blended with lime and creme fraiche could make a sexy dip for crudites, or a fine dressing for a chicken and roasted corn salad. 

But it’s here in fish tacos that this sauce really finds its natural home. It’s the taste of summer. It’s the smell of success.

It’s one best consumed with a cold beer and a wedge of lime when you need a solid dose of sunshine in your life.

Fish tacos with chipotle lime crema


Serves 2

Equipment
1 stick blender or small food processor. 1 fry pan. 1 baking dish for the fish, or a bbq.

Shopping/foraging

Chipotle lime crema
1 dried chipotle chilli
2 tablespoons of just boiled water
Juice and zest of half a lime
2 tablespoons of creme fraiche (you could use yogurt if you wanted to keep the fat content down further)

Fish tacos
350 grams of white fish fillet (sea bass, John Dory, barramundi or mahi mahi would work well)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Zest of half a lime
3 large handfuls of shredded white cabbage
1 handful of coriander/cilantro leaves and stems, diced
1 small handful of pumpkin seeds
Salt to taste
Jalapenos
Warmed corn or wheat tortillas (2-3 per person, more if you have Hungry Ones).

Guacamole
2 ripe avocados, mashed
1 handful of coriander/cilantro leaves, roughly diced
Juice of half a lime
Salt to taste

Here’s how we roll

1. Split the dried chipotle chilli and shake out most of the seeds. Dry toast it in a fry pan until it smells nutty.  Then cover it with just boiled water and leave to steep for 15 minutes.

 2. Puree the chilli and the steeping water until smooth.

3. Keep one heaped teaspoon of the chipotle puree in the bottom of a blender (nb, you can freeze the remainder in an ice cube tray. It means there’s some on hand for next time you make tacos, burritos, enchiladas, pulled pork, etc).  Add two tablespoons of creme fraiche and the zest and juice of half a lime. NB, if you didn’t have chipotles you could always use chipotle powder, or a combination of smoked bbq sauce and cayenne pepper.

 4. Puree until smooth.

5. Top with a few coriander leaves.

Other components

Fish fillets

1. Dry the fish  fillets well  and lay them out in a baking tray. Cover them with a flurry of coriander/cilantro leaves, pumpkin seeds, a drizzle of olive oil and the zest of half a lime (use the juice in the guacamole).

2. Bake the fish in a 200 degree oven for 10  minutes, until the flesh is opaque, or grill on the bbq.

3. Flake each fillet of fish into thirds (keeping the toasted pumpkin seeds and leaves with it).  Place the fish on a serving platter with the warm soft tacos, guacamole, shredded cabbage, lime and chipotle crema and jalapenos.

4. Assemble your own soft tacos, adding jalapenos and crema to taste.