Day 56: Baja Fish Tacos
inspired by Breddos
It’s finally happened. It may have been 56 days. But right now I just don’t feel like cooking. In fact I would rather be anywhere than in the kitchen right now.
I’m actually rather shocked that it’s taken this long. As much as I love cooking, there is definitely such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Yep yesterday I just wasn’t feeling like it. Now I admit I might have had a few glasses of wine with my roast dinner on Sunday. That might be why I’m lacking energy. And the sun is shining, so I would rather be outside.
But this is the first time I have actually thought, you know what, I really can’t be bothered to cook.
Usually there’s a solution for this. Restaurants.
What about takeaway I hear you say? True I could order in. In fact my wine head is really liking the idea of some greasy Chinese food right now. But we had a takeaway the other day. I would struggle to justify two in a week when it was a normal week. Let alone a lockdown week where theres a food blog to write.
I wouldn’t feel guilty about going out to eat. Going to a restaurant is an event. It’s sociable. It’s date night. Whatever the reason, there is a reason. Beyond pure laziness. Which is all this is right now.
Plus I have to cook. I’ve got gurnard defrosting. I give it a poke. Yep, definitely too late to put it back in the freezer.
Tonight I am making fish tacos. Whether I want to or not.
I decide to cheat a little. Aidan is despatched to the corner shop to buy some wraps. I was going to make the actual tortillas but that is a step too far. I could even use my pastry cutters to make them smaller, like proper tacos. Good idea.
But there’s none in the shop. My cunning plan is foiled.
With an enormous sigh I drag myself into the kitchen.
Well I suppose if I have to make tacos then the person who I want to get a recipe from is Nud Dudhia, one of the co-owners of Breddos.
Which just happens to be one of my favourite places for tacos in London. Forget not being bothered to cook. You go for tacos if you can barely be bothered to eat. I don’t mean you won’t eat well. You will eat very well.
I just mean you won’t need to bother with courses, or wine lists. You barely need cutlery.
You just sit down, order a margarita, and if there’s a few of you, order a bit of everything. Nothing could be simpler. Food arrives, you eat it in whatever order you want. You leave. Or have another margarita. That’s your call.
But back to my kitchen. Nud’s recipe (I can’t find it online but it’s on his instagram page @nud_breddostacos) for the tortillas involves mixing 200g of flour and 2g of baking powder.
Hang on. Why do recipes always do this? I’m getting perilously low on plain flour whilst theres a bag of perfectly good self raising sat in the cupboard gathering dust.
So 202g of self raising flour goes into a bowl. I add 50g of butter cut into little cubes and rub it in, just like if you were making pastry. Then add 1g of salt. Honestly it could say 1g or 10g but today that means the same thing. A pinch.
Finally stir in 140g of natural yoghurt. Bring it all together into a ball and knead for a couple of minutes. Leave to rest for half an hour.
I resist the urge to also go and have a rest for half an hour.
I’ve already got pickled red cabbage to serve with the fish, like Breddos does. Made by a previous, more energetic version of myself.
But I need something else. Some sort of salsa.
I couldn’t be bothered to go to the supermarket so it’s time to play the fun game of what’s in the fridge? But that’s what’s so great about any kind of salsa or chopped salad. It really doesn’t matter.
So I chop up tomatoes, spring onions, radishes, chili and mint and it all gets mixed together with lime juice and olive oil. I find a tin of sweetcorn in the cupboard so some of that goes in.
I always think the more colourful a salsa, the better it is.
Next up is a spicy mayonnaise. Any ideas of making this from scratch goes out the window. I reach into the fridge and for the trusty pot of Hellmann’s.
I’m making it a bit lighter so I use half mayo and half natural yoghurt. This is not to reduce calories. I will eat twice as much of it. Some chipotle paste and chilli sauce get mixed in and that’s ready to go.
Time for the fish.
I should mention the reason I’m cooking with gurnard (rather than something like haddock, cod or pollock… all more obvious choices) is that I accidentally ordered far too much of it online a few weeks ago. But it’s a firm white fish so I’m sure it will be fine.
By the time I have haphazardly removed the skin and cut alway any bony bits I’m left with four large fish fingers.
Hmmm…doesn’t seem quite enough for dinner.
Back into the fridge I go and out comes some leftover roast pork from yesterday. A decent piece gets chopped up and mixed with cumin, chilli flakes, paprika and honey. Into a pan it goes to heat up and get crispy round the edges.
Back to the fish. I realise I cannot be in two places at ones so Aidan is drafted in to batter and fry the fish whilst I make the tortillas. We decide against deep frying (again, can’t be bothered) but about half an inch of oil in a frying pan works just as well to cook the fish.
Rolling out and cooking the tortillas is actually fun. Hang on does that mean I’m actually enjoying this?
I split the dough into eight, each being about the size of a golf ball. They should weigh 50g each if you’re being precise like Nud. I am not.
Nud also fries his in oil. I add oil to the pan for my first one but can’t be bothered to keep topping up the pan so most of them are dry fried. As long as your pan is non stick this doesn’t seem to make much difference.
Finally time for dinner. The tortillas get loaded up with pickled cabbage, spicy mayo and salsa, along with fish or pork. Both are good but the fish is really lovely! I have to admit Aidan has done a great job cooking the gurnard. He smiles to himself as we eat.
However his smile quickly fades when we clear the plates away into the kitchen. There is quite a lot of mess.
It’s great that he helped me clear up. The downside is he kept a tally of what I had used to make dinner.
In the end it came to 6 small bowls, 2 mixing bowls, 5 plates, 3 pans, 2 chopping boards and a rolling pin. Plus every utensil we own (except the potato masher) and handfuls of cutlery. All for a dinner for two.
“You do realise there are restaurants that create less washing up than this?” Aidan says, drying up the third pan.
I think it’s going to have to be one pot dinners for the rest of the week. For Aidan’s sanity.
But you know what? I actually did enjoy cooking in the end. And it was much better than a takeaway.
Except for the washing up that is.
Baja Fish Tacos
- 1 large tomato
- 6 cherry tomatoes
- 1 red chili (seeds removed if you want less heat)
- 3 spring onions
- 2 radishes
- 80 g sweetcorn
- 1 lime
- olive oil
- 3 sprigs mint
- 2 fillets gurnard (or other firm white fish)
- 100 g plain flour
- 200 ml soda water
- 300 ml oil for frying
Pickled Red Cabbage
- ¼ red cabbage
- 1 red chilli
- 1 green chilli
- 6 black peppercorns
- 100 ml cider vinegar
- 100 ml water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp light mayo
- 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
- 1 tsp chipotle paste
- 1 tsp chilli sauce
- 8 small flour tortillas
- lime wedges
Pickled Red Cabbage
- Make the pickled cabbage in advance, ideally the day before. This is enough for a large jam jar and will keep in the fridge for weeks. There will be plenty leftover for another meal, or more tacos!
- Shred the cabbage as finely as you can. Slice the chilis. Add to a bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix well, scrunching the cabbage with your hands.
- Take a jar and start putting in handfuls of the cabbage. Keep pressing it down so you can fit as much in as possible. Once thejar is full pour in as much of the remaining liquid as possible, so all the cabbage is covered. Put on the lid and store in the fridge.
Tomato & Sweetcorn Salsa
- Dice the large tomato. Quarter the cherry tomatoes and add them to a bowl. Finely slice the chili (remove the seeds if you wish), spring onions and mint leaves. Add them all to the bowl with the sweetcorn. Squeeze over the juice of one lime and a decent drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and set aside until serving.
- Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Taste and season with salt and pepper. If you find it too spicy you can always add a little more yoghurt. Keep in the fridge until serving.
- Remove the skin and any bones from the fish fillets. Cut into long thin goujons (basically the size of a fish finger).
- Make the batter by adding the flour and salt to a bowl. Add in the soda water and whisk unitl smooth.
- Add a bit more flour to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Roll the fish pieces in the seasoned flour.
- When ready to cook heat 2cm of oil in a high sided frying pan. When the oil reached 180°C dip the fish in the batter and add them to the oil. Fry for about 3 minutes on each side, until crisy and golden. Leave them to drain on some kitchen paper and then sprinkle with salt.
- Warm some tortillas and cut a lime into wedges. Pick the coriander leaves. Take everything to the table and dig in.