The first 18 years of my life were spent just a stone’s throw from the ocean. I grew up just a 20 minute drive from a real beach. Summers were spent on the water surrounded by farmlands. I’ve built more sandcastles than I can remember and stung by jellyfish I’ll never forget.
For those of you who don’t know, I grew up in Moncton, New Brunswick. I always clarify this as just north of Maine so people don’t think I grew up in New Jersey.
I didn’t wander too far for university (100 miles to be exact). And these past five months have been the first time in my life I haven’t been a short drive from salty air.
I have to admit, I have not bought fish since moving to Ontario. I grew up next to the Lobster Capital of the World where shellfish was literally eaten right off the boat. Fried clams, lobster rolls, fish n’ chips, clam chowder, mussels dipped in butter. These are things that Maritimers take a lot of pride in. They are things I grew up eating on the regular and never really thought twice about.
However, it seems my Maritime upbringing has failed me.
I unknowingly was missing out on one of the greatest seafood dishes of all.
I blame the British influence in the East. It wasn’t until I travelled to the other ocean that I learned there was a whole culture of seafood I was missing out on. Namely, Mexican.
Canada, we have got to get into this Mexican thing.
While at the Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco, I attended a breakout session hosted by Alaskan Seafood. Susan Milliken, of Border Grill fame, demonstrated a couple varieties of her famous fish tacos. I was immediately hooked.
I got to try the fish tacos at the Tasting Pavillion and fell in love. The soft tortilla, flaky fish, chunky and spicy salsa with the cool sour cream. It was the perfect combination of textures and flavours. Not to mention an utter mess to eat.
Needless to say, I’ve been thinking of these fish tacos ever since. I’m no longer in the Maritimes, or on the West Coast, but that doesn’t mean I can’t bring a little spice to Mid-Eastern Canada.
I started with the above taco…
Haddock Fish Tacos with a Cucumber Citrus Salsa.
We were given recipe cards for the tacos and I totally lost them. No bother. It made recreating them even more fun. I had to do it from just one tantalizing memory!
I began with the salsa:
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and cubed
- 1 medium orange, segmented and chopped
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/2 jalepeno, minced (I’m sure Susan used a different pepper, but regular grocery stores in Canada don’t carry many choices!)
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
I didn’t want a whole bunch of salsa leftover, so I started small. Since all I could remember was the cucumber and orange from the recipe, I just went with what sounded like usual salsa ingredients for the rest!
But I need to work on my segmenting skillz. And a sharper knife.
I prepared the salsa the day before as these things usually taste best when they’ve had time to sit and mingle flavours.
The fish however, I was not on the ball with.
The Alaska Seafood people encouraged buying frozen fish. It’s usually flash frozen at its freshest, whereas the stuff in the fish market of your grocery store could be up to two weeks old! I went for Wild Pacific Haddock. Rather than defrosting it slowly like you’re supposed to, I let it thaw in hot water.
Then pan fried until just cooked. I do not like my fish overcooked at all so this is a step I’ve actually gotten pretty good at.
The key to my homemade fish tacos were the tortillas. I made those too!
I’ve actually done this before and it’s super simple. I really don’t know why more people don’t do it. Three ingredients:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup hot water
Some people let it sit for a little bit. But by this point I was hungry and got to rolling.
Apparently, something else I need to work on.
Cooked in a medium-heat pan until brown and bubbly.
Here’s where some of Susan Milliken’s tips came in handy. To soften the tortilla before eating, quickly dunk it in water to make it more pliable. Then, when assembling your taco (or whatever you may have) put lettuce on the bottom to prevent the juicier ingredients from soaking through the tortilla.
I lettuce-d like a good girl, placed my flaky fish down, spooned a heap of salsa over top, and finished with a dab of plain yogurt.
First, the tortillas. Best idea ever. You could taste the better quality and they really brought the whole thing up a notch.
The salsa turned out fantastic. I am so proud of this little cucumber citrus salsa and can see myself making it time and time again! It’s so simple, versatile, and sounds way fancier than it really is.
The fish? Weellll, it’s not quite “off the boat” good. But not too shabby for my first inland foray into seafood. I can say fish tacos will definitely be added to my regular rotation of seafood dishes. I’ll be sure to whip up a batch for all my fellow fish lovers back home. Chased down with mussels drenched in a butter sauce of course ;)
Speaking of which – 29 days until I go home for Christmas.
Not that I’m counting down the hours or anything.
Question of the Day: Let’s talk fish tacos. Have you had them? Favourite kind or combination?
Hey guys! How are you all doing? I feel so cut off from the world, these past few days have just been a whirlwind. Did you know tomorrow is already Waffle Wednesday? Gah! How did that happen? Even more – it’s September! Figures, just when the weather starts to get cooler, I move into a basement apartment :P
I was up way before my mom and sister this morning. I quietly tried to throw together something to eat without waking them, which of course meant I dropped and banged into everything I touched.
PB&J toast made under the broiler because I may have broken my toaster. Applesauce on the side.
My family eventually came to, my mother started croaking for coffee, and my sister and I geared up for our 5k run. This was my first time running with someone else – it was so much fun! Made it go by much quicker, even if our conversation was a little short breathed :P We also pace the exact same, neither of us was faster or slower than the other.
Distance: 5.03 km
Avg pace: 8:45 min/mi
A perfect little burst of energy to wake up our creaky muscles from all the heavy lifting yesterday :)
Once we showered and dressed, we all headed to Cora’s for a late brunch. It’s a Quebec-based chain that specializes in breakfast/lunch.
She looks like a nice lady, no?
They have a huge menu chock full of delicious looking breakfast items.
I had eggs benedict on my mind, thanks to Janetha.
I ordered it with the asparagus and swiss cheese, but minus the Hollandaise sauce. I also got all fruit on the side, and skipped the potatoes.
I’m jealous of Cora’s perfectly poached eggs! Someday, I will do that.
My mom got sausage in buckwheat pancakes.
And Sara got a crepe omelette.
Yes, that’s a spinach and cheese omelette rolled up in a crepe. I tasted it, it was divine.
My only complaint about Cora’s is that their fruit isn’t always as flavourful as I’d like. I assume it’s because they have to buy it in bulk quantities seeing as they go through so much of it. The oranges and kiwis were bitter, strawberries a little worse for the wear, etc.
Me and my running buddy…
Brunch fuelled us up for a Wal-mart extravaganza. My mom and sister continued to spoil me and basically be the best people in the world, getting me a microwave stand, toaster oven, and countless other household items.
The rest of the afternoon was spent digging our way out of boxes and getting some semblance of what my place actually looks like! I stopped to munch on my mom’s famous homemade hummus.
I’ll ask her for a recipe, but I know she uses the same method as me – throw all appropriate hummus ingredients in food processor and blend. She never measures anything, thus every batch tastes slightly different. I think her real trick to making it taste amazing every time is that she cooks her own chickpeas. You can definitely taste the difference between the canned and dried varieties.
Dinner was also courtesy my mother. She and Sara left before supper today, but left some food in the fridge so I could make a meal :)
Check it out! I can eat at a table now! In my old place, most meals were eaten off my lap :\ New place also has wonderful lighting for food photos.
Haddock, that my mom had previously breaded, on a bed of romaine, tomatoes, sweet peppers and lemon juice.
A sneak peek of my new dining spot!
There’s still a lot to be done before it looks “home-y.” I’m still trying to get everything cleaned (the place was filthy) and unpacked before I start decorating.
Sure can’t beat this view though!
After dinner, I realized I have absolutely no food for work tomorrow, so I hit up the grocery store. This week’s fun find:
Barbara’s shredded spoonfuls. I started munching on these right away, caught myself, then realized I should just eat a bowl of the stuff instead of a whole serving from the palm of my hand.
With some blueberries and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. It was quite good! They got soggy pretty quick, but I still love the flavour.
So now it’s just me, all by myself, in an apartment that’s all my own. I’ve lived alone for short periods before, but only ever after roommates had moved out. This is the first place I’ve ever had that’s 100% mine! It’s a pretty sweet feeling :) And there will be more photos of the place as I get set-up. We’ll do a formal tour :)
I’m off to do some final cleaning before bed. Getting up early for a lifting workout at my new gym. Super excited to play around in the weight room there!
Question of the day: Got any song recommendations for me? I’m getting pretty sick of what’s on my iPod and I need some new stuff to listen to when I’m at the gym or running!
See ya tomorrow! ;)