A quirky combination of East meets South-of-the-border flavours, complete with an authentic homemade Mexican soft corn tortilla. Gluten and dairy free.
With an Urbanspoon score of 97, San Diego’s Taco Express is an icon of sorts and a local favourite. When I worked out they were located only a couple of blocks away from the W hotel we were staying at during our recent trip to SD, not going was not an option.
I settled on a trio of Fish, and the more traditional Carnitas (pulled pork) and Pork El Pastor (spicy pork) tacos from the surprisingly extensive menu. Infatuated by the flavours of the fish taco served in a soft homemade corn tortilla, I decided to brainstorm a few simple taco ideas to try at home.
Tell me, have you ever tried recreating a restaurant dish at home? Have you tried fish tacos before?
The Torched Salmon Taco
Since I am always craving Asian flavours, and mangoes have come into season, an East-meets-Mexican tacos made with sashimi-grade salmon were born. Treated with a little blowtorch action, which gives the fish a smoky flavour while the texture is exactly as the fish is cooked; part grilled, part silky smooth, chewy and raw.
The flavours that mingle in this mini version are nothing to write home about on their own, but when put together they do pack a punch. Salsa fresca (also known as pico de gallo) is sweetened up with some fresh mango chucks and spiced with sriracha – both quite Asian in origins, while the fish is treated to a firey dash of tabasco.
The Soft Corn Tortilla
Last but not least, because this is important in a good taco, is the tortilla. I wanted to make the tortillas from scratch, which would ensure a more authentic Mexican experience and of course mean they were gluten and preservative free.
Soft Corn Tortillas require Masa Harina, which is a Mexican-style corn or maize flour for making tortillas. I picked my New Zealand produced Masa Harina from a new super-funky and well-stocked South American deli Salt Meats Cheese within the Grounds of Alexandria. You can also try the Essential Ingredient or a local Mexican community restaurant or deli. Incidentally, I found the simple 3 ingredient tortilla recipe in the March 2011 issue of Gourmet Traveller, complete with a masterclass on how to best make them on page 52.
Since I don’t have a tortilla press, I used two flat-bottomed plates to press my rounds and it worked a treat, as did… Donna Hay’s Royal Doulton mini cake stand. A rolling pin is also a good option once you’ve flattened the rounds, but be mindful to work your way right around the dough otherwise the edges will crack. Although I don’t mind them rustic like this, you could use a large glass to cut out your perfectly round tortillas, sized for a couple of bites.
For a Vegan taco version, you could use deep fried tofu or cooked broadbeans (fava beans), sans torching.
- 1 cup masa harina (tortilla flour – see note above)
- ½ cup water
- pinch of salt
- 1 ripe mango, flesh only diced finely
- 2 small tomatoes, diced finely
- ¼ avocado, peeled and diced
- 2 tbsp finely diced white onion
- 1 tbsp finely diced coriander stalks
- 1 tbsp Sriracha or sweet chilli sauce
- juice of ½ lime
- 10 thin slices of sahimi-grade salmon
- (10 soft corn mini tortillas – see ingredients above)
- coriander leaves
- tabasco saue
- extra lime wedges
- Place flour in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and add water.
- Mix together for a couple of minutes until the dough forms a soft, pliable ball.
- Wrap the dough tightly with cling film and rest for 20 minutes.
- When ready, divide dough into 8 and roll into balls.
- Place each ball inbetween 2 small sheets of baking paper and roll out, or press inbetween two flat plates until only about 3mm thick. For a perfect circle, use a large glass to cut out the circles and re-roll scraps to make 2 more tortillas.
- Heat a large pan over medium high heat and slide in tortilla rounds. Cook for 30 seconds on each side.
- Transfer cooked tortillas into a basket or plate lined with a kitchen towel and wrap up to steam and soften for a few minutes before serving.
- Combine diced mango, tomatoes, avocado, onion and diced coriander stalks in a bowl. Add Sriracha and lime juice and mix well.
- Arrange salmon sashimi slices and lime wedges on another plate.
- Serve soft tortilla rounds with a spoonful of mango salsa. Top with a coriander leaf and a salmon sashimi slice. Blowtorch fish until lightly charred. Drizzle with a dash of tabasco and serve with extra lime wedges on the side.