by Cerina Medici
Admittedly, I am no food connoisseur. However, when I first heard of fish tacos being served in Ensenada fish market, I was more than a little skeptical whether such a combination would produce a delightful taste in the palette.
For two years now, my husband and I have been running a small Mexican restaurant in San Diego, California. I have been brought up in a traditional Italian family and him in a typical Mexican household. Naturally, food and cooking was a favorite interest that we both shared. Some two and a half years ago, we got the idea of setting up a restaurant in order to have a productive outlet for our shared interest. The small restaurant business kicked off well right from the start, however, for a couple of months now we have been having trouble coming up with new recipes to keep our customers from getting bored with our food. This was when a friend suggested we serve fish tacos like those that she tasted during her recent visit to Ensenada, Baja California.
I involuntarily flinched at the thought of what fish tacos might taste like. The combination did not at all seem like something that would make one’s mouth water. Tacos are a very well-known Mexican dish. Beef and pork are the most typical meats used in creating these distinctly Mexican snacks. Chicken and turkey can also be used as a main ingredient, and is a wonderful option for those on high protein, low fat diets. There are also vegetable tacos for those who do not like eating meat. However, never in my life have I heard of such as thing as a fish taco, and I definitely have not wondered what one would taste like. So when my friend mentioned the existence of this unusual type of taco, describing it as unexpectedly delicious, my curiosity was picked since the incident coincided with our new recipe dilemma. Thus on one Friday, my husband and I decided to close our restaurant for the weekend to spend a couple of days in Ensenada to visit this much talked about fish market and to try a fish taco or two.
Ensenada’s fish market was seafood heaven. Not only were there fishes and other seafood stuffs being sold just fresh off the boat, there were also hundreds of stalls and restaurants serving exquisite fish and seafood dishes. Walking among vendors and stalls, the sights, sounds and smells were all amazing. There were people selling 5 to 6 feet long yellowfin tunas. Stacks of large clams and shellfishes glisten atop tables and barrels. It was not unusual to find a crab or a lobster slowly making its bid for freedom, and my husband even stepped on one as we were walking. Heaps of seaweeds, fishes, squids, shrimps, oysters, and other seafood items aplenty were sold In Ensenada fish market, many of which are delivered directly to the restaurants in the market to be cooked and served to tourists, shoppers and locals. Everything seemed so fresh and delicious, not to mention cheap, that we found it a pity there was nothing like that in San Diego.
We asked around for where we could buy a fish taco, and surprisingly, we found out there were several restaurants and food stalls selling them. A nice woman served us fish and shrimp taco placed in a basket-like plate topped with squares of banana leaves. The taco was served with a small cup of salsa and a handful of chips on the side. There were also several condiments and additional ingredients that you can ask for such as cheese, hot sauce and super spicy salsa. At the hour of truth, I found out my friend was absolutely right when she said the fish taco was unexpectedly delicious. My husband and I ordered several other kinds of fish tacos from other restaurants and stalls for “research” purposes. We happily went home with very full stomachs and a new addition to our restaurant menu.