Tilapia fish tacos
Simple fish tacos are even more delicious if you use sustainable fish like tilapia.
I like fish. I like tacos. So why has the charm of fish tacos always eluded me? Maybe it’s the fact that mayonnaise is used in so many recipes. I do use mayo on occasion (and appreciate its creamy tanginess every time I do), but putting it on fish tacos sounds like tuna salad in a tortilla to me. Some recipes even call for chopped cabbage – tuna salad and coleslaw in a tortilla.Skip to next paragraph
Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, his recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.
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Recently, though, two mayonnaise-free events had me reconsidering fish tacos. The first was in New York. After catching a performance of Rajiv Joseph’s amazing play, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, we made a mad dash for the subway, practically knocking several slow-moving Times Square tourists into the street, trying to get to Luke’s Lobster in the East Village before it closed. We were rewarded with tender chunks of chilled lobster on buttered, toasted buns with just a sprinkle of lemon butter and a dash of secret spices – and no mayo. (They do offer a “swipe of mayo” if you want it, but we didn’t – we just wanted lobster, plain and simple.)
The second event, closer to home and more to the point, was dinner at El Cid, a Mexican restaurant in our Logan Square neighborhood here in Chicago. Marion ordered the fish tacos. Again, no mayonnaise – just simply, plainly cooked chunks of fresh fish topped with onion cilantro salsa and accompanied by lime wedges. It was time to try my own take on fish tacos.
Tilapia, fish farming and sustainability. In a recent post on sustainable wild caught walleye, I reported that Paul Greenberg, author of Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, said that fish farming or aquaculture will overtake wild catch in the next few years. As much as this is necessary – we are simply running out of wild fish – aquaculture is not without its considerable challenges. Concerns about threats to the environment, protecting species diversity and wild populations and producing healthy fish have all been raised. But as we rely more and more on farmed fish, solving these problems and getting aquaculture right is something we must do.
Fortunately, the world’s largest producer of farmed tilapia is getting it right on many levels. In fact, Regal Springs Tilapia is the first aquafarm in the world to meet the International Standards for Responsible Tilapia Aquaculture (ISRTA), a rigorous set of standards that ranks fish farms on seven principles of environmental and social impact. Working with the World Wildlife Fund, fish farm industry leaders created the ISRTA’s high standards. The World Wildlife Fund published the set of standards in 2009; you can find a downloadable version here.