Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Jack-fish Tacos

Something Smells Fishy...

I had written my list of recipes to make for this month since last year, and was on the fence about a fish taco. I wanted some kind of avocado sauce, homemade salsa and all kinds of things. However avocados are out of season, can’t find them anywhere. The grocery store did not have any snapper filet. I wanted to make authentic tortilla shells with masa harina but as you guessed it, nowhere to be found here in Mandeville. So I was ready to give up on my taco dreams. Then my sister over the last week has been making tacos like crazy, and my father got a huge catch from his fish guy; snapper, parrot, jackfish and butter fish. So I figured what the heck, let’s make tacos.

This past Saturday I made the three recipes for this and the next two posts. My father’s fish buy basically gives him the catch of the day sorted into individual bags with about 6-8 fish per bag (and we get about 6 of these bags). For some reason, his catch is always filled with those annoying silver jack-fish that everyone in our family hates; It puzzles me that my father does not tell him to stop including them in the lot. Most of th time we have more jack-fish than anything else. In terms of texture, its not the best. We fry them, steam them, brown stew them, but not one likes it. The meat is darker and reminiscent of a mackerel or sardine and it also has a distinct fishy taste not as mild as a tilapia or snapper.

In every poly bag there are at least two jack-fish, sometimes three. This bag I pulled had three jack-fish, carefully hidden in the middle surrounded by one parrot and three snapper.  I needed the parrot and snapper for the other recipe, So I was stuck with trying to make the jac-kfish delicious in the tacos. The only thing we had never done to the jack-fish was grill it, today would be the day to make every one love this bone filled fish.

 Jack-fish tends to get dry and trashy when overcooked; and generally Jamaicans overcook all meats including fish (we just love to ‘stew down’ things lol) So I knew I would have to add fat and do minimal cooking in order to keep the fish moist and tender.  Jack-fish also has a lot of bones, there is almost like an exo-skeletal spine running on the outside of the skin, that has small bones in the center. What I did was to do a traditional filet, season and grill it and then remove the bones and skin after its cooked, similar to what you would do to salted cod after it has boiled. Trying to remove all the bones from the fish prior to cooking would result in you taking the entire fish and throwing in the garbage or over your fence in frustration.

The resulting tacos were the most delicious thing ever; all ingredients working harmoniously. The fish was tender and juicy, I made my own taco shells,  as well as a lovely sauce, roasted corn, added raw tomatoes, cabbage and onions…all in all it was perfection!

Ingredients (Printable recipe)

For the fish
6 Jack-fish filets
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon Garlic powder
Oil drizzle
For the sauce
1 green pepper
4 jalapeno peppers
2 heaping tablespoons sour cream
2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup cilantro leaves (or more to taste)
1 garlic clove
Splash of lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the tortillas
1 cup flour
1 cup corn flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 pinches salt
2 pinches sugar
1 ¼ cup warm water
1 tablespoon oil
For the topping
2 whole corns
Shredded red cabbage
1 plumb tomato finely chopped
3 tablespoon finely chopped onions
Cilantro to garnish
Lime slices to garnish


For the fish

  • Filet your fish of choice, season with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, oil let it marinate for 15 min
  • On a hot grill place the fish skin side down and cook for about 1-2 minutes, while its cooking brush the flesh side of the fish with more oil
  • Turn the fish unto the flesh side and grill for about another minute
  • If you are using jack-fish after you remove the fish from the heat, make sure to flake it and remove all the bones and skin. If using a tilapia or snapper that’s boneless, just flake the fish into  medium to large chunks

For the taco shells

  • Combine the flour, corn flour, baking powder, sugar and salt
  • Add the oil and warm water and knead until smooth
  • Cover and set aside to rest for 30 minutes
  • Section and roll into balls (if dough is too sticky flour all surfaces and hands)
  • Roll into flat dish and place in a hot non-stick or lightly greased pan to cook for 1-2 minutes per side
  • Place tortillas into a covered metal baking pan lined with foil an kitchen towel to keep warm
  • Repeat until you have made all the tortilla shells.

For the sauce
  • Roast green peppers and jalapenos on open flame
  • Remove from heat, allow to steam in a closed container
  • Wash, wipe or peel off charred skin
  • In a food processor or blender, combine, sour cream, mayo, garlic clove, salt, black pepper, roasted peppers, lemon juice, honey and cilantro. Blend until smooth
  • Place in the refrigerator until ready for use
For the filling
  • Place two ears of corn on the grill and grill on all said until there is an even char
  • Once its cooked remove from the grill stand vertically and slice off all the kernels with a sharp knife
  • Finely mince raw onions
  • Finely mince tomatoes (make sure to remove the seeds)
  • Finely slice red cabbage
To assemble
  • On a tortilla shell, add the red cabbage, grilled fish, grilled corn, onions, tomatoes, and top with a lot of cilantro sauce
  • Enjoy

Xoxo Greedygirl

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