Fish tacos, Ensenada-style

One of the many culinary highlights of visiting Ensenada, Mexico is to stop by the street vendors near the fish market and pick up some tacos de pescado ... mmmmmm. Set aside any prejudices you may have from eating from these taco stands -- I've done it many times, and have never ended up with anything but a full belly and a big smile. Plus, they're so delicious and so cheap you can hardly stop! The rule of thumb for eating street vendors' food is, if it smells good ... go for it. If it looks like it's been sitting out all day ... it probably has. Follow these directions for the authentic Ensenada tacos pescado experience.

This recipe serves 12 people two tacos each; may be doubled as necessary.

Toppings and Salsas

Squeeze the juice from 7 limes into the evaporated milk, and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and tangy.

Beat the egg with milk and water. Add flour, salt, baking powder and mustard and beat until smooth. Cut fish into pieces about 2-1/2 to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. Dip fish in batter until well-coated. Fry in deep oil heated to 375 degrees until golden grown and crisp.

Heat tortillas one at a time on griddle (or use the triple-stack flip method if you know how) until hot and soft, or else wrap in foil and heat in a 350 degree oven while frying fish. Place each piece of fish on a hot tortilla. Add salsas as desired. Top with shredded cabbage and thickened milk.

Salsa de Tomate

Combine tomatoes and onion. Serve as topping for tacos. No chile involved, so this one is mandatory for all who can't handle heat.

Salsa Fresca

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Makes about 2 cups.

Salsa de Chile Pequin

Cuidado! Muy picante!

Place chiles in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand until softened. Grind chiles in a blender until pureed, adding some of the soaking liquid to facilitate blending and to dilute to medium thick consistency. Heat a little oil in a small saucepan. Add chile mixture and a dash of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let cool before serving. Makes about 1/3 cup; double or triple the recipe as necessary.

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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)