Fish Tacos – From Ocean to Table in one day

Fish we caught ourselves + a little prep and cooking = delicious (sustainable?) fish tacos

Happy Black Friday, readers!  I was lucky enough to have the day off, and we still had two Groupons to hop on a fishing boat in Marina del Rey, so I was up at 6 this morning heading through the crazy fog to the boat launch.

It was seriously foggy, and kind of chilly (though the high was 80 today, and it was sunny at our apartment when we left–it’s that marine layer), but the water couldn’t have been smoother.

A couple stops in, the fish were biting.

Ryan’s first sculpin of the day.

Me catching up.

From what I’ve been able to find online, the rockfish/sculpins we were all catching are pretty sustainable fish.  There are size limits (no keeping the little guys), and limits of keepers.  The deckhands are good about measuring the fish and keeping everyone honest.  These guys live on the bottom of the ocean, in artificial reefs, so you have to drop your line to the bottom and wait for some bites, which feel like little tugs on the line.  They’re small fish, so they don’t fight much, you just have to pay attention to your line.  Most of my fish were keepers, but Ryan caught a few he had to give back to the ocean.

This was our combined haul.

The deckhands fillet the fish for you for $1 each, which Ryan’s getting better at, but sculpin have poisonous spines running the length of their backs, so we always leave it to the pros.

Our haul for the day.
Fast forward past some shopping, a nap, and more shopping, and it was dinner time.  I haven’t heard of a lot of rockfish recipes (anyone have any good ones?), but they fry up into some yummy tacos.  Ryan loves making fish tacos, so here’s his recipe.

Fruit Salsa

one big tomato, roughly diced

1/2 orange, red, or yellow pepper (pick 2, for total one whole pepper), roughly diced

1/2 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 big Navel orange, 2 smaller oranges, or 4 clementines, skinned (obviously) and diced

juice of 1/2 lime

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp coriander (dried)

1 tsp. cumin (dried)

salt and pepper

1/2 jalapeño

Chop up all the fruit.  Mix it all up.

Don’t forget the oranges, like we did initially!

Add your liquids, jalapeño, and spices/seasonings

Set aside for later.  This stuff keeps for a day or two for leftovers.

Sriracha lime sour cream

1 cup sour cream (reduced fat is fine)

juice of 1/4 lime

1/2 tbsp sriracha (or more, whatever you want)

some salt (try it)

Mix it up.  Done.

Beer batter for fish

1 cup flour

2/3 (8 oz) beer, darker is better

salt, pepper

Mix it up, don’t let it sit too long or it’ll go flat.

Here’re some of our fish.  They leave the skin flap on so that if you get back to the dock and Fish and Game wants to count your fish (to make sure they’re legal, you’re within limits, etc), they can easily identify them.  The skin is easy to pull off when you’re ready to cook.

Get your oil to temperature (375), batter your fish, and throw them in.  Well, don’t throw, it IS hot oil.

Please ignore our gross stove.  It took a beating Thanksgiving.  Your fish will start out whitish, then get tanner

Flip them when they get tan like this.  Slotted tongs work best, but anything that won’t rip apart the batter or get hot oil on you is good.

When the fish are nice and fried-colored (yes, I’ve decided that’s a color), take them out with your tongs and put them on a paper toweled plate to soak up the extra grease.

It’s hard to take a decent looking picture of fried things.

Now comes the fun part: building the taco!  It’s best with super hot fish, fresh out of the pan.

Ryan makes a mean tortilla, but we cheated and used Trader Joe’s Truly Handmade Tortillas.  They’re a staple we always seem to have on hand because I hate the crappy paper-plate flat tortillas the grocery stores usually carry and these guys taste great heated up for a couple seconds, even plain.  Next best thing to homemade.

Toppings from left to right: bagged cole slaw mix (not made into slaw, just the cabbage bits, which I like better than lettuce, because the hot fish doesn’t wilt them and they’re crunchy), fruit salsa, and sriracha lime sour cream.  And I decided to pair my taco with a drink I concocted of pink pinot grigio and some raspberry Crystal Light.  Yes, I know it’s pretty trashy, but it tastes strangely like Sangria, so I was into it.  Ryan swears fish tacos can’t be eaten with anything but a beer, so that’s what he had with his.

He’s pretty big for a fish taco.  It’s probably more of a fish burrito.  I was stuffed after just one.

Happy fishing and eating!


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