My husband is from San Diego, so he’s very used to eating authentic, Mexican food. Having visited there twice now, I’ve also come to fully appreciate it. I remember biting into my first Carne Asada at a little Mexican restaurant called Albert’s and thinking “Wow, now that’s authentic.” Definitely not something you’d find on the East Coast where I’m from and where we live now. Daniel also introduced me to fresh flour tortillas that he used to buy on a regular basis before we were married and he was cooking for himself. It was new to me, because the only kind of tortillas you can buy in Pennsylvania are the pre-cooked kind with preservatives. But these are fresh, uncooked tortillas made with lard, so it goes without saying that they’re far superior in taste.
Although we don’t have access to the same authentic Mexican food here, we’ve managed to have a little reminiscence of San Diego each week by adding another theme night to our weekly meal plan: tacos. Normally I buy corn tortillas since the ingredients list at least seems to be shorter than the flour tortillas (eventually I’d love to get a tortilla press to make my own, but for now we settle with corn tortillas). We switch up the type of meat based on what we have, whether that’s beef, chicken, or fish. And for toppings, we pile on cilantro, tomato, onion, jalapeno, shredded cabbage, and fresh squeezed lime juice. It’s a wonderfully versatile meal and one that’s quickly become a favorite.
With summer right around the corner, I’ve decided to try a twist on our traditional tacos. I’ve been very much in the mood for fruit (of course, when am I not?) and pineapple came to mind. I’ve heard of fruit salsas but never tried any before, so when I thought of making pineapple salsa I decided to give it a whirl. I also LOVE fish tacos, so this seemed like the perfect thing to use the salsa for.
At first I was hesitant about combining pineapple with a spicy hot pepper, but the heat of the pepper complimented the sweetness of the pineapple nicely. And of course, you can certainly control the amount of heat you use by adding as much or as little banana pepper as you’d like.
For the fish tacos, I used whiting, but any kind of fish will do, though the thicker the fillets the better. Combining flour, shredded coconut, and some salt and pepper, I dredged the fillets in the mixture and fried them in the cast-iron pan. I don’t know about you, but I usually have a hard time getting my fried food crispy. So when I pulled these out of the pan and found that the coating was perfectly golden and crispy, I was thrilled! The real trick is to make sure that the oil is hot enough before putting the fish in the pan. Also don’t over crowd the fish, so work in small batches.
While the fish was cooking, I heated some corn tortillas in a separate pan then assembled the tacos, adding a slice of fish to each tortilla, a generous topping of the pineapple salsa, a sprinkle of cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime and…voila…a yummy, tropical dinner was served!
Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
2 cups diced pineapple
1/2 diced red onion
1 T. minced banana pepper (or more, depending on your preference of heat)
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Oil for frying (I used safflower since it’s a little healthier than corn or vegetable, but you can use any kind of high-heat oil here)
4 fish fillets (the thicker the better)
1 c. flour
1 c. shredded coconut
salt & pepper
4 corn tortillas
Cilantro and lime wedges for garnish
1. Combine pineapple, onion, banana pepper, cilantro, lime, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Heat about an inch of oil in a cast iron or other wide pan.
3. Combine flour, coconut, and some salt and pepper in a bowl.
4. Dab the fish fillets with a paper towel to dry them, then dredge in the flour-coconut mixture and gently lay in the pan once the oil is hot. Cook for about 3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Meanwhile, heat the corn tortillas in a separate pan.
6. Once the fish is done, assemble the tacos and top with the pineapple salsa and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges. Dig in!