I had no idea what nixtamal and masa harina were before I decided that it would be a good idea to start making my own tortillas. It’s fair to say that from the moment I purchased my old school Mexican tortilla press (see pic below) to the time I produced my first not-so-perfect tortilla, I had learnt a little more than anticipated about this ancient process.
To cut a long story short, to make tortillas at home (unless you want to soak and grind your own corn kernals – no thanks), you need to use masa harina which is a ground version of the authentic, fresh corn dough. So I found masa harina at the local mexican shop and practised pressing my dehydrated corn dough until I had nice, reasonably thin, golden tortillas worthy of eating. And while they tasted good, I wasn’t completely satisfied with my efforts. It’s hard to admit but I think some things are just better bought.
So with La Tortilleria (look them up!) 2 blocks from my house, I now buy freshly ground corn tortillas. They make them the old style way. I can’t compete.
For now, my Mexican tortilla press sits forlornly at the bottom of the cupboard, waiting for days like today when it gets dusted off for a photo shoot.
Here are my tempura fish tacos. I’ve battered the fish but of course you can grill or crumb the fish and the result will be just as good. It may not look like it but this is a great mid-week dinner – it’s quick to prep the salsa and crema and then you just need to cook the fish and heat the tortillas!
Stay tuned…I’m sure this won’t be the last taco post I write….
Tempura fish tacos with lime crema and salsa
For the tacos
8 – 10 flat head fillets, depending on the size (or any other firm white fish)
Vegetable or sunflower oil for frying
2 jalapeños, sliced
Chilli sauce, optional
A few sprigs of coriander
12 corn tortillas (3 per person) or as many as you like!
For the tempura batter
I took the tempura quantities from my Toyko cookbook
125ml very cold water
75g plain flour
For the salsa
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cobs of corn
1/2 red onion, finely diced
2 avocados, diced
1/2 cup of coriander, mint and parsley, finely chopped
Olive oil and lime juice, salt and pepper
For the lime crema
1 cup sour cream
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp of paprika
A couple of pinches of salt
For the salsa, cook the corn cobs in the microwave for 6 minutes. I do this by placing the corn cobs in a wide bowl, adding about 1cm of water and then covering the bowl with a plate. Remove when done, allow to cool and then slice the kernels off. Place in a bowl with the tomato, red onion, avocado and herbs. Drizzle over some olive oil and lime juice and add a good pinch of salt and pepper.
For the lime crema, mix all ingredients together and set aside.
For the batter, crack the egg into a bowl and mix well with the cold water. Add the flour and stir roughly (I used chopsticks to do this), leaving some lumps as this makes the batter crispy. Heat a couple of inches of vegetable or sunflower oil in a wok and bring to a high heat. Dip your fish fillets in the batter, shake off any excess, and then drop into the hot oil. They should only take a couple of minutes on each side to cook through and turn a nice golden colour. Remove from the oil and let drain on some paper towel.
Meanwhile, heat a frypan over medium – high heat and place your tortillas in, one by one, to heat up. They should need a few seconds each side. When done, place them in foil to keep warm. The steam that they generate in the foil also makes them nice and soft.
To serve, throw a couple of pieces of fish in each tortilla, spoon on some lime crema, add the salsa, jalapenos, coriander, a squeeze of lime juice and some chilli sauce if you like spice!