My mom grew up in a hippie beach town in Southern California. Even though the beaches on the U.S. side of the border were gorgeous, her family often went on vacation to nearby Baja, Mexico.
It was a beautiful drive along ocean-lined highways, and easy to get through the border and fully immerse yourself in the rich, colorful and vibrant Mexican culture. Because of the fact that even as a kid my mom was a dedicated foodie, she loved the many flavors of authentic Mexican food.
Most of all, my mom loved the dishes that highlighted the bountiful sea. Her favorite was the cheap and satisfying fish taco that you could order as one or two or three — or however many your stomach could manage. Here is one of her recipes for those famous fish tacos with an avocado crema that my whole family has grown to love.
Baja Fish Tacos
Large mixing bowl
Blender or food processor
Small mixing bowl
Large nonstick pan for fish
Skillet, with cooking spray, or toaster for tortillas
Ingredients for herb garnish:
¼ cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, coarsely chopped
2 avocados, cut up into bite-size cubes
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt to taste
1 garlic clove
¼ cup fresh cilantro
¼ teaspoon cumin
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ½ tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste
2 pounds cod fillets (or another firm whitefish like mahi mahi)
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ancho chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 homemade or store-bought flour tortillas (here’s my recipe from last summer!)
Your favorite hot sauce, salsa or pico de gallo
Directions for garnish:
In a large bowl, mix together cilantro, scallions, bite-size avocado, lime juice and salt. Combine ingredients and set aside.
In a blender or food processor, add in your avocados, garlic, cilantro, cumin, red pepper flakes, lime juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt. Blend well until your crema is smooth.
- In a small mixing bowl, add in garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, ancho chili powder and ground black pepper. Blend everything together well.
- Pat down your fish fillets with paper towels. Season both sides with your spice mix and gently massage the mix in.
- Heat your pan on medium-high heat and gently and carefully add in your avocado oil. Place the fillets in the oil. Sear each side for two to three minutes. Remove the fish and set aside.
- Heat your tortillas in a toaster or in a skillet that is on medium-high heat.
Take one or two tortillas, add 2 ounces cod, a dollop of avocado crema, a third cup herb garnish and, according to your taste, hot sauce, pico de gallo or salsa.