Fish Tacos in Seattle
The codfish lays a thousand eggs, the homely hen lays one. The codfish never cackles to tell you that she’s done. So we scorn the codfish while the humble hen we prize which only goes to show you that it pays to advertise. – Anonymous American Rhyme
Hard to find but worth the effort. Doesn’t that sound like a great place to find great food? How many of us have “referred” our friends, co-workers, or family to those out of the way, hard-to-find places where the BEST EVER food is? I know I have, and it is pretty much the same wherever you travel. Sometimes the harder to find, the more effort you have to put in, the better the food.
Same goes for the Emerald City. Just off Brooklyn and down from the UW Hospital on Portage Bay sits one of the absolute best Mexican/SW eateries in Seattle. Agua Verde, above a paddle club, and always appears to be camouflaged by the local foliage, is one of my absolute favorite restaurants. I am shocked that more people who live in this town don’t know about it (although the word must be spreading as there is always a line…another good sign!). Agua Verde serves up organic (whenever possible), ridiculously fresh tacos and burritos. Sure you can get carne asada, carnitas, chicken, and even some great veg (portobello mushroom) options, but you should ditch all of that go straight for their ample list of fish tacos.
I love fish tacos. Originally from somewhere in Mexico, fish tacos made it up to the USA across Tijuana some time in the last 15 or so years. They became really popular in San Diego and made their way up the West Coast and frankly can be found in a lot places, not even port-side. Some restaurants serve what is essentially a fish stick on a corn tortilla with a few veggies (Taco del Mar?) but not Agua Verde. Their menu consists of fishy options such as shrimp, salmon, cod, halibut, ahi, and catfish to go along with the other meaty choices. My favorite? ALL OF THEM. But if I have to choose, then I almost always pick the smoked salmon tacos, with the shrimp a close second. Always served with chips and a fresh salsa bar (chipotle honey, verde, and spicy red) to boot, these tacos are what every backyard BBQ guy wants to serve. Fresh pieces of perfectly seasoned and grilled fish, with a few pieces of cabbage, and a zesty sauce of some kind (see below for my at home favorite) all nicely plated on a handful of handmade corn tortillas. Did I mention the Mango Margaritas? These blended beauties are worth every penny. I am not doing this authentic Baja-style joint justice…everything is THAT GOOD. Eat in or out but if you can find a spot overlooking the gorgeous bay with I-5 running not too far off overhead…do it. Worth it.
Since I love fish tacos to much, I have been working on perfecting them on the grill at home. Every Good Boy should have this in his BBQ arsenal. No one wants to eat chicken and steak ALL the time. Mix it up with a taste of the Baja and serve the family a few kinds of fish tacos.
I prefer to grill my fish and then serve on a nice platter so that your dinner guests can pick off the fish they want to plunk into their taco. Although there are no official rules for making great fish tacos, there is a sort of unwritten code of conduct. For example, corn tortillas, not flour, are basically required. And for the green? DO NOT serve lettuce like we Americans are used to serving with our Anglicized tacos, slice up some green and/or purple cabbage. It should fit nicely into the corn tortillas. The way I look at it, the Mexicans had it right. Grab a tortilla and put some meat, some dairy, and lots of fresh veggies, fold, and serve. I am going to include three great recipes for fish tacos. White, Salmon, and Shrimp.
Here is the first fish taco recipes…white fish. I would use the side salsas and sauces with any of these choices.
- 4 fillets of your favorite white fish (cod, tilapia, or mahi mahi are best)
- 1/4 cup veg oil
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tbsp Ancho Chili powder
- 1 Jalapeno, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Finely shredded green and purple cabbage
- Coarsely chopped cilantro
- Seeded coarsely chopped tomatoes
- Red and green chilis, finely seeded and diced
- Lime wedges
- Sliced red and green onion
- Corn tortillas
- Favorite hot sauce
- Mexican cheese (preferred)
- Blend ingredients in a bowl and brush over fish. Keep in fridge for at least 2 hours. Light a grill and grill fish on medium heat for about 5 minutes on the first side and approximately 3-4 minutes on the second side.
- Break up with a fork and serve with CORN tortillas, diced cabbage, hot sauce, sour cream and green onions. Note: if you go with flour, or lettuce...you ain't doin right playas!