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Weekend Recipe Challenge: Fish Tacos at Home

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We've been a little bit crazy about tacos lately here at LAist, even venturing to the far reaches of Culver City and San Pedro to find the city's best. But what with gas prices skyrocketing and food prices doing much the same thing, sometimes even a quick trip down to Pedro can really be a bigger budget-hassle than it's worth.

Lucky for you, the intrepid foodies of your favorite city blog have been conducting intensive research into the feasability of creating really fantastic fish tacos at home! (When we say "intensive research," we mean "making fish tacos every weekend and force-feeding them to our boyfriend until he begins to develop gills and express interest in mermaid-roleplaying sex games").

We've determined TWO key elements to fish taco magic: the fish (duh!) and the sauce, or should we say, the crema. The Mexican crema that you'll find on most authentic fish tacos is a south-of-the-border version of creme fraiche, a thick, slightly tangy heavy cream used most often in French cooking. We have not been able to find a good crema Mexicana at the grocery store, so we've improvised and come up with a low-fat but spicy jalapeno-cilantro version. (Have we mentioned how much we love cilantro and use it in everything? No? Well, we do, and we do, and it's awesome.)

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The other factor is, of course, the fish. Halibut is ideal: it's light, flakes nicely, and works well with spicy condiments. The only problem? It's expensive - a quick tour of our local Bristol Farms priced halibut at about twenty dollars per pound. GAH! A more reasonable alternative is tilapia - which you can definitely find at most markets for under ten dollars a pound, if not less. One pound will make about eight medium tacos - more than enough for four people if you serve the tacos along with beans and rice or chips and salsa.

So impress your friends and inspire your loved ones to take up water sports this weekend: recipe for Baja Fish Tacos with Low-Fat Jalapeno Crema after the jump.

Yes, the fish can be fried, I suppose, but I prefer to bake it after letting it sit in an easy marinade for a few hours.

Prepare fish: Marinate filets in 1/2 cup of lime juice and 1/4 cup olive oil with a handful of minced cilantro and 1/4 chopped white onion, for a few hours or for however much time you've got - even 20 minutes will do the trick. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake fish in well-oiled pan (olive oil please!) for about fifteen minutes, or until it flakes nicely with a fork.

Prepare crema: Mix three parts low-fat mayonnaise to three parts non-fat plain yogurt (about three tablespoons each will do - you can make more if you need it). Add juice of one lime, three tablespoons of minced cilantro, and one minced jalapeno. Stir together; season with salt and pepper. Other options: add one minced chipotle for extra spice, or use a dash (or two or three) of Sriracha sauce.

Prepare garnishes: mince 1/2 white onion. Chop up a handful of fresh cilantro. Shred 1/2 a head of green cabbage. Heat tortillas (you can pop them in the oven, the microwave, or heat them naked over your gas stovetop). Set out crema and also some queso blanco if desired.

Build taco in the following order: Tortilla. Fish. Cabbage. Onion. Queso. Crema. Cilantro on top. Squeeze of lime. Open light beer or lager. Sit on balcony of fourth-floor Hollywood apartment; pretend car alarms going off are actually squawking seagulls, and smog over downtown is merely "marine layer." Boyfriend begins to hum "Look at this stuff...isn't it neat...wouldn't you think my collection's complete...."

Ignore; eat; repeat.

Photo by Carrie Meathrell via flickr.

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