Before COVID-19, I somehow got it into my head that if I wanted decent fish tacos I would need to get them at a restaurant or taco stand. Even though I enjoy cooking, it never occurred to me to try to make them myself. Until now.
Since grocery shopping, once a pleasure, has become more time consuming, tedious and (potentially) dangerous, I’m trying to simplify where I shop, what I purchase and prepare. That is how I started buying tilapia, an affordable fish which I once overlooked in favor of more exotic seafood such as Spanish anchovies or locally harvested varieties such as mackerel. The first time I pan fried it, my excruciatingly sensitive and sanity-destroying smoke detector went berserk, as if wailing on my behalf about the global calamity. That prompted me to pivot: I discovered that tilapia can be baked in the oven in less than 15 minutes. It’s impossible to mess it up that way and, without smoking oil, it’s more calm all around, at least here.
The tilapia makes a great filling for Mi Tierra tortillas, locally produced and undeniably authentic. They make me feel as if I am again in Mexico enjoying a snack or light meal from a sidewalk vendor or small taqueria. To soften the tortillas, I warm them in a lightly oiled pan. Then I’ll spread some mayonesa on them for extra smoothness, add some fish, chopped red onions, cilantro (if I remember to buy it) and avocado. I usually think that two will do for a meal but then I find myself making a third…or a fourth.
As I wrote many weeks ago, I hoped that COVID-19 would kill perfectionism. Certainly, the fish tacos I’m enjoying are my own uncomplicated improvisation and not replicas of a traditional Mexican recipe, which I didn’t bother to consult. Indeed, sometimes I bake the tilapia with Moroccan seasoning to mix things up. That is fine with me. The tacos are tasty and good enough. In this strange, discombobulating and distressing time, when my brain often feels like scrambled eggs, good enough is absolutely perfect.