Down Mexico way


FISHY FEAST Delicious battered-fish tacos are satisfying and simple to make.

The Cabots

Long, long ago, in a hazily remembered past life, I had the great fortune to work in Mexico and travel the length and breadth of the country from north to south, east to west. It is some country. Vast, wonderful, terrible, eccentric, warm.
Mexicans are my favourite people to hang out with; the most fun ever. Mexican cuisine is to die for – it is fresh and zingy and usually chilli-hot, bursting with flavor from herbs and spices.
There are some Mexican dishes I wouldn’t even dream of trying because they are so complicated. Mole, a rich spicy sauce that contains chocolate would be one. But some Mexican meals are easy to recreate at home; you just need a bit of time for preparation.
Fish Tacos make for a great weekend brunch. You batter and deep fry strips of robust white fish and serve in a (preferably corn) soft tortilla. What makes this meal is its accompaniments. At a typical Mexican tacqueria, you load up your tacos with a selection of fresh salsas and salad. It’s a messy business – take care not to overload your tacos!

Tasty tacos
Before you fry the fish, get your sauces and salads ready. You’re aiming to make a banquet of street food to serve at your own kitchen table! The main flavours are going to be chilli, lime and coriander.
In Mexico, pico de gallo – the beak of the rooster – is a staple salsa to add to your taco. You’ll need about six plum tomatoes, one chilli (or to taste), a small red onion, a handful of coriander, juice of half a lime, and a minced clove of garlic. Finely chop all these ingredients and mix with the lime juice and sea salt in a bowl.
Next, a creamy sauce. Use a tub of sour cream, mix with half a cup of mayonnaise, add in the juice of half a lime, a minced garlic clove, a pinch of sea salt and mix. Next, for heat and smokiness add in a hot chilli flavouring. If you can get it, this could be half a teaspoon of chipotle powder. Better again if you could get your hands on a chipotle chilli paste containing adobo sauce. Don’t despair if you can’t. Some local supermarkets stock hot chilli sriracha sauce in their Asian section, and that will do the job. If you’re stuck, even a squirt of Tabasco would do. Mix the creamy sauce till all elements are combined.
Next up is a cabbage salad, to give the tacos their crunch. This is totally simple. All you do is finely chop and wash and dry half a small cabbage (red or white) and put it in bowl!
Finally, thinly slice a few radishes and place in another bowl. These will add extra crunch and a peppery flavor. And you’re ready to go!

Tacos de Pescado
(Battered fish tacos)

What you need

  • Eight soft tortillas
  • 400g of firm white fish, like cod or monkfish, cut into strips
  • 200g plain flour
  • Half a teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of English mustard powder
  • Half a crumbled vegetable or chicken stock cube
  • About 300g cold beer
  • A neutral vegetable oil for frying

What you do
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the salt, mustard powder, stock cube and mix with the beer until the batter is thick and smooth.
Heat the tortillas in a dry frying pan, wrap in a tea towel and set aside. Fill a deep saucepan about one third full with the oil. Heat till it reaches 180°C. Cover the fish in batter, shaking off any excess.
Deep fry the fish in batches; it’ll take about two minutes on each side. Drain the cooked fish on kitchen paper.
To serve, pop the fish in the middle of the tortilla, add some pico de gallo, cabbage, radishes and creamy sauce, fold up and enjoy!   

— Sandra

The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.