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Summer Series: Fish Tacos!

Summer is not over! Don’t pack up the beach chairs or barbecues yet! We officially have another week to enjoy. This week I’ve really been thinking about my life in California and how wonderful it was. Why did I leave? I’ve been thinking a lot about it for numerous reasons. First of all, I used to think that I enjoyed the four seasons… Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. But, it turns out, that was just a theory. A romantic theory. I like the idea of the three other seasons but I only really like summer. I’d like to spend the winter season skiing and celebrating Christmas in Aspen… For a week. I would like to spend the fall season watching the leaves changing colors and having Thanksgiving in New Hampshire… For week. I would like to spend the spring season watching the tulips and having salmon en croûte for Easter in Paris… For a week. But that’s it, the other 49 weeks of the year, I’d like to be on a beach having fish tacos.

There’s just something golden about spending one’s life barefoot in jeans and a T-shirt with a bikini underneath, salty hair, sunkissed skin, sandy feet eating a fish taco and drinking and icy cold beer. To me, that is heaven.

There’s a lot of chatter about the perfect fish taco. Which fish is best? What’s the best batter? Grilled or fried? 1 tortilla or two? Flour or corn? Accoutrements? And the sauce! The mighty sauce. So many choices.

I thought it would be fun to break it all down and overly discuss it, shall we?
Bon Appétit magazine breaks it down in six steps:

The Keys to Perfect Fish Tacos
1. Flaky Fish
Any white flaky fish will do (think black sea bass, mahi-mahi, grouper, hake), but we love red snapper. It’s classic and sustainable, and its firm fillets stand up to the heat.
2. A Good Fry
Since its earliest days in Baja California, Mexico, the fish taco has starred fried (not grilled!) fish.
3. Bubbly Batter
Carbonation’s tiny bubbles make the crispiest coating. Some swear by beer, but we found that club soda lets the fish’s flavor shine.
4. Rice Flour Power
This alt-flour lightens the batter significantly—think tempura, not fish and chips.
5. Slaw’s the Law
Some iterations use unadulterated shredded cabbage, which lends crunch, but is low on flavor. When it’s tossed with refreshing jicama and a creamy, lime-spiked dressing, it delivers on both fronts.
6. Twice the Tortillas
Corn tortillas are the authentic pick, and we stack them two per taco for a sturdier bite. Char them (see step 5) to bring out the corn’s nuttiness.

Merci Bon Appétit!

Which fish to use?
Halibut, mahi-mahi, tilapia, swordfish, salmon, even shrimp.

Now we need to talk about accoutrements. What do you add? Here’s a good list to get you started:
Mango salsa, kiwi salsa, avocados, pico de gallo, salsa Verde, roasted corn salsa, cilantro and lime, cabbage with jicama, roasted peppers, black bean salsa, pineapple salsa, cucumber salsa, green cabbage, marinated red cabbage…

The sauce is the icing on the cake and there are so many varieties:
Lime cilantro sauce, avocado cream sauce, jalapeno cream sauce, chipotle cream sauce, citrus Southwestern sauce, remoulade sauce…

Okay, now let’s take a look at some recipes…

 Chipotle Shrimp  Tacos. Click HERE for recipe.
 Crispy Salmon Fish Tacos. Click HERE for recipe.

Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado-Cilantro Sauce. Click HERE for recipe.
Voilà! Fish tacos! Stay tuned for the next summer series. Hint: Laced

*Something you don’t know about me? The second reason I was starting to question my life in France was the incident over the weekend involving the terrorist on the Paris bound train. I’m sure you’ve heard about it… Moroccan terrorist with weapons on a French high-speed train, taken down by brave Americans and one Brit? This alone made me want to move back to the states. But then, after that, I decided that America has its downfalls as well. For example, I saw on the news that female Viagra was approved by the FDA in the US. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Here I am, paralyzed with ALS, with ALS compassionate drugs or orphan drugs NOT approved by the FDA, and I am sure hundreds of millions of dollars were set aside for the research and FDA approval of female Viagra! It’s shameful not just for people with ALS but what about Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and every other cancer cancer cancer. But by all means, let’s approve female Viagra.


  1. It's 10 am.... I'm so hungry after reading this post :) I hope you have a great day! ... I always thought jewelry and a great house was the female Viagra, I guess I was wrong.

  2. Amen, sister!!! Let alone all the money spent on male viagra! Where are the priorities? Well, I guess it is obvious. Thank you for all the research you do for your posts. These pics look delicious and I am not even wild about fish! I know, I know. As for the incident on the train, thank goodness for those guys. Other times, it might not turn out so well, but as the Brit said " Why die just sitting there?". Big hugs!

  3. what do you want to bet the committee that approved the female viagra was all male. grrrr.

    i've been making my FIL talapia fish tacos but this week i will try the beer and rice flour and a coleslaw dressing. thanks E! x

  4. I've never made fish tacos, but your drool-worthy photos make me put it on my to-do list.

    I agree about the seasons - I live in the Northeastern US where we have 4 distinct seasons, but I really only love one - summer. Spring and fall are fine, but really only because they are NOT winter!

    The train event was scary - I'm always impressed and amazed by people who jump in to do what needs to be done, regardless of the potential for harm to themselves.

    Female viagra? Good lord - when there are so many real problems to spend time and money on, who decided this was worthy of limited resources??!! NUTS .

  5. Brava, dear brave one! Female Viagra...? Glad you said it, I would stutter.....Who dreamed that one up?
    some brainy opportunista? God bless those courageous Americans and Brit for repeating what happened
    in WWII when they also went to the rescue......

  6. Never mind the fact that female Viagra works by fucking with the chemistry of the brain! What could go wrong?! I don't like fish tacos because...I've never had one...because the name grosses me out. I guess I'm that gay. I like the cilantro-y slaw that goes on a fish taco though.
    I love the four seasons but I do believe there is a Stockholm syndrome type effect that occurs when you live in shitty weather as I do. I think I'd miss it terribly, but who knows if I actually would. I'm in the midst of an Elliesque panic attack as there is a burglary suspect on the loose in the immediate vicinity of my salon. Obviously I canceled my clients and got the fuck out (who wants to get their hair done with police helicopters overhead and sirens blaring?). But I think I need a female Viagra to convince myself I'm feeling better. I'm just leaning toward a g&t though.

    1. Run Stephen Run! Besides Stockholm syndrome, my other favorite disease is Munchausen by proxy disease. :-)

  7. Ellie, I am so glad that you shouted out about the female Viagra. I read about it and I thought it was so offensive with so many people with serious illnesses with no cure and we are spending money developing female Viagra seriously?
    You have made me so hungry and since I love fish tacos and I don't cook I will be going to the fish restaurant by the river tonight, ordering fish tacos and thinking of you !

  8. Ellie,
    I just read a New York Times account of the thwarted train attack. A French citizen was actually the first one to throw his body on the attacker. He declined to be named in the story. Yes, it's a truly heroic thing all 4 of them did to avoid the carnage. Not exactly what I'd like to hear about a week before I travel to France, but it sounds like security in the train stations will be vigilant. The fish tacos sound absolutely yummy!!! I will hand over the recipes to my husband, the chef around here!

  9. FL girl loves Fish Tacos, want one now.....and touche' on the FDA, CDC, and the rest of the goops ~ ridiculous.....add diabetes....
    horrors.....I mean "really" ~ upside down world out here ~ needlessly ~ I will never get it ~ while they give banker bailouts over here......grrrr ~ XO to you Ellie ~

  10. Ellie...when you are right... you are right. FDA is a joke. It's a punch in the face for all that are fighting for their lives with the clock ticking.

  11. A gal after my own heart.I too would just take a week of fall winter & spring. Living in VaBeach im a summatime gal across the from the beach bathing suits & sarongs ( after going to the gym) are the dress of the day :) we have some pretty good fish tacos too...

  12. Perfectly, perfectly said. As always. It is infuriating and insulting. And frankly, insane in the literal sense of the word and our world too.

    Your spot-on response can almost let me forgive you for writing about fish tacos...because come on, you know that had to make your fellow expat friends whimper! Fish tacos! Fish tacos? Yes, yes, we could make them over here but no WAY would they taste the same. They just wouldn't. Just starting with the only tortillas I can get are Old El Paso...*sigh*

    Wait, why don't we all live in California again?

    With so much Love and Strength to you,

  13. Ellie I cannot wit to try out these recipes ! After living 13 years in San Diego and now back in Kansas City, trust me I miss great fish tacos!! With you on the female Viagra! Too much money wasted on research in the wrong ways !

    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Alex Katz

  14. HAD Not heard about the BRAVE AMERICANS and the SOLO BRIT!Leave it to YOU to inform ME!I never watch the news......too sad.NOW about the TACOS...........GOD ALMIGHTY CAN YOU HEAR ME?I have been complaining ALL summer I canNOT find the perfect FISH TACO!IT's the salsa they lack............
    AS for the female VIAGRA......................NO THANKS!

  15. The priorities for the pharmaceutical industry have always been the bottom line -money. They are basically inhumane and have been for quite some time. Pathetic. If I could wave a magic wand for you and every Person with ALS or the other conditions you mentioned.....sigh.
    My kids introduced me to fish tacos a few years ago....anything with creamy lime cilantro dressing is ok by me! :-)

  16. Yes indeed, summer is still here and we should enjoy every minute of it! All too soon, we will start to feel a bit of nip in the air, as fall subtly approaches.
    The fish taco recipes look delicious! We have grilled or poached fish several times a week. However, nothing like a fish taco with slaw and mango salsa.
    I so agree with your comment on female Viagra. Seems it is more important to get artificially aroused, than to cure disease and enable people to have a healthy life! Of course, we all know, the bottom line is profit.
    Enjoy this last week of "official" summer Ellie, and thanks for inspiring all of us to do the same!

  17. Ellie, I mean, really, a drug approved that messes with the female brain. Are they kidding? The FDA and the pharmaceutical industry need to get their priorities straight and start dealing seriously with diseases such as yours. (ALS also touched our family.)
    When I check my email every morning and see a new blog post from you, my heart skips a beat because you have the most chic, most fun, and most fascinating blog available. I love France, and I love Santa Barbara, and I remember going in your wonderful store when I was in California. You're incredible, and I light a candle for you whenever I can---and that means Paris this summer. Forgive my anonymous post, but my blog name is for my class, and I can't go public with it. You rock, Ellie O'Connell!

  18. This post is making me so hungry........great recipe!! xoxoxo Mary

  19. Your people have said it all about the Viagra. Ridiculous!
    Now let's talk about fish tacos. Ellie you are making my tummy growl. Here I am in California and I never even thought about that wonderful dish. I will have to see where I can find some for tomorrow 's lunch. That and the gazpacho. Yum. I guess I'll be cooking tomorrow.

  20. Looks delicious! Love fish tacos and I agree with you about the 4 seasons. I always vote for summer! Nothing like washing your hair in the lake every day! My big wish today is that they will discover that female..or male for that matter…viagra will cure ALS!