Aarti Paarti Ep. 32: Fish Tacos fit for a McQueen, the movie version

Posted by Aarti on May 12th, 2010 . Filed under: aarti paarti, Uncategorized .

Have you ever had fish tacos? Does the idea gross you out a bit? It used to gross me out. And now I can’t imagine why. How could I possibly be grossed out by something so impossibly perfect?!

The first fish tacos I ever had were in our fish class at the New School of Cooking. I was easily talked into trying one — they were beer-battered and deep-fried for goodness’ sake! And once I’d bitten into one, I knew I’d be hooked for the rest of my life. The combination of that fish (hot, moist, flaky) against both the lime-y mayonnaise (cool, creamy) and the shredded cabbage (crunchy, fresh)… all within a neat package of a toasty corn tortilla…

My tummy just growled in an extraordinarily impolite fashion.

A product of my mum’s healthy cooking ways, I don’t deep fry anything at home (there’s the mess to clean up and all that oil to dispose of somehow!). So I came up with another way to enjoy fish tacos, amping up the flavour with a cumin-mint-garlic mayo and a smoky coriander-chili fish. It’s so easy, and a lovely way to feed friends: you can have them make the mayo and shred the cabbage, whilst you cook the fish and warm up the tortillas. Then bring the whole lot to the table and eat family style! There’s nothing like eating communally and getting your hands dirty together! (A little cold beer doesn’t hurt either).

I posted this recipe earlier this month, as a doff of the hat to my friend McQueen. It’s so good that I HAD to make it on the show, and so here’s this week’s Aarti Paarti:

Looking for the recipe? It’s here.

A little post-script: be mindful about purchasing your fish. We’re all watching our pennies these days, but in order to eat both the freshest and the healthiest fish (both for you and the environment), you might need to spend a little more. Check out the Monterrey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list; based on careful study of fishing/farming practices and scientific-things-I-don’t-understand like mercury levels, it suggests which fish to avoid, which ones to eat on a limited basis and which ones are good alternatives for that Chilean Sea Bass you just can’t live without. The site offers a Pocket Guide that you can print out and carry with you and I’ve heard that there’s even an iPhone app so you never have to question what to buy!

If you are buying whole fish, check for bright, clear, glassy eyes (not sunken, smoky ones)… bright red or pink gills (not grey ones)… moist shiny skin… wet fins and tails (not dry and shriveled).

Also, when you buy your fish, rather than asking whether the fish is fresh, ask them whether it was been previously frozen — know that if the answer is yes, then the quality of the fish has been compromised. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get sick from that fish, but it won’t taste all that great.


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24 Responses to Aarti Paarti Ep. 32: Fish Tacos fit for a McQueen, the movie version

  1. doris

    I’m totally going to make these. Thanks! (Hi Brendan!)

  2. Trish

    Wow. Those looks so delicious! My mouth is watering. I am definitely making them this week. Yum! Thanks so much! Cheers!

  3. Heidi

    Way to represent the bloggers on TNFNS! You are amazing! Love your fish taco cooking show. Can’t wait to watch you shine with or without the FN. BTW, my hubby loves fish tacos. I feel a Father’s Day meal a brewin’!

  4. Lisa

    YUM! I made this for dinner tonight and substituted the fish with chicken as that is what I had on hand. The flavours were great together, even the kids loved it! Can’t wait to try it with fish. Definitely putting it on the rotation. The kids thought your ‘fishy tales’ were very funny too! Love you on NFNS!

  5. Anu

    Thank you so much Aarti … for reminding us Indian girls that learning to cook from our mothers is so special, and that Indian food, or all food in general, can be so enjoyable and fun! Your blog is amazing … I’ve forwarded the link to my mom! I love your twists on traditional Indian dishes, and more than anything, I love your warm attitude and loveable personality! Good luck, my hubby and I really hope you win!!!

  6. Sandy

    These fish tacos were amazing! I served them with your South Indian coconut quinoa and your serrano papaya salsa (I substituted mango) plus the fabulous mint mayo sauce and my husband said it was the best meal he ever had!! We are really routing for you on food network-you have a wonderful personality and your enthusiasm plus the way you illustrate everything makes one want to run right out and cook it!! Also love your charming little side stories and sense of humor-food network truly needs someone of your caliber to illustrate and take the fear out of cooking delicious indian food!!

  7. Kendall

    Aarti! I don’t know if this is what home cooked Indian food tastes like, but if it is sign me up. I just got finished eating these tacos and even though I made my stomach ache eating them, the taste still lingers in my mouth and I want more. I ate most of the recipe by myself, and I woke my wife up at 1am (I work from home and she is a stay at home mom) to try it and she loved it too. She wanted me to wake her up if it were good We are definitely “foodies” as have of our interests involve food in some way. She ate a whole taco after having been asleep for an hour of so and loved it (this is no small thing).

    I had never cooked with coriander or mint but I will try it in several things after tonight. I feel like you opened up a whole new world to me tonight. This is easily the best thing that I have ever cooked myself, and I cook all the time (mostly Latin or simple American dishes aka Tyler style TexMex). This is the only dish I have ever made though that made me feel like I made something special.

    If you couldn’t tell, I really liked it. If you didn’t/don’t win TNFNS I think I might write the shows producers on a regular basis and tell them how insane they are and how the criteria for Food Network success is highly out of sync with common sense. Your personality is so precious and when I see you on that show losing confidence I want to shake you and say “Are you crazy? Don’t you know how freaking adorable and talented you are?! Snap out of it and go be awesome”. It is funny when you laugh about it though :), but no more sad faces.

    Thank you for the amazing recipe, and I will be trying a different dish of yours probably every other night from this point forward till they run out. So keep them coming.

  8. Tony

    These are excellent fish tacos. I’ve been scouring the web for a while, looking for a good recipe. It was totally a bonus that I got a little video to go along with it, and that the girl in it was utterly adorable.

    Thanks again and good luck becoming a Food Network starlet.


  9. Prit


    I just made these and they are absolutely scrumptious! I have a hard time getting my kids to eat fish unless they are covered with breadcrumbs and then fried. They loved these!!! I used cod and they were soooo good. Thank you for showing me that fish doesn’t have to be battered and fried to taste good.

    I made your baked samosas yesterday and they were fabulous. My favorite samosas are from Whole Foods but now I can make your versions at home instead!

    Am really, really hoping that you become the next Food Network star – you deserve to win.

    Many thanks,

  10. Venus

    I second what Kendal said and I want to just poke you when I see you giving up on yourself. You are a star already and you should act that way. I love indian spices but haven’t really found friendly recipes to use them. I am going to make fish tacos tonight…
    Whatever happens, Keep doing what you’re doing

  11. Kristen

    These tacos are sooo tasty!! I’ve made fish tacos before and they have always been just ok.. not these ones! They are so full of flavor, my fiance and I have put the recipe in our favorites list cause I know we’ll be making them alot :)
    Thanks so much Aarti!!! You are awesome and I hope you win on NFNS, I’ve been voting for ya! Kristen from Seattle!

  12. Denise Earnest

    Oh my! These are delicious! I have made them twice. Everyone loves them, even the kid who doesn’t like fish! You’re a genius in the kitchen, my dear.

  13. Marisa

    I’m in the middle of this “The Next Food Network Star” marathon and am cheering for you 100%! Had to come on and check out your blog. This fish taco episode is the most darling thing ever seen. Something fishy taco..priceless! Absolutely love it. Go Aarti! If you’re in the NY/NJ area I hope I get to meet you someday! Good luck dear!

  14. Sonia Bologna (Sonia Lasagne)

    I have to say it, these are waaaaay tasty better than Bobby Flay’s (from Food Network recipe search)!! LOL (I was missing any flavor with his Fish Taco recipe online, the one with Ancho Chili powder – mine {the chile powder} was still fresh too….??)

    Big Congrats on winning…my hubby had doubts (he’s the target market audience for these types of shows! Sucked in with the lead up drama) but I knew all the way, you are a natural and a refreshing addition to the Food Network! Can’t wait to watch your show!!!!!

  15. Bonita

    Holy cow these are good! Wow!! There are so many different flavors and textures working harmoniously together. You’re genius!

  16. Denise Earnest

    Sorry, but I must rave again. I just had fish tacos at a restaurant a few days ago. They were good. But they didn’t even come close to the amazing deliciousness of your recipe! I just had to say it. :)

  17. parveen sangrar

    hi ! like what i saw so will have to try….look too good not to try.

  18. Bonoca

    Made these last night and they were fantastic….thanks so much Aarti! Once all the prep work is done, these come together very quickly. Would be great with some avocado on the tacos!

  19. Linda Gee

    First, Aarti, I am SO glad you won NFNS. I made your fish tacos tonight — my first ever experience with them and it was wonderful. I want to tell folks to make sure the don’t skip the banana peppers — they add just the right vinegary touch. Yum! A perfect blending of flavors, with nothing dominating. You rock, girl!

  20. Gio

    I made your fish tacos today and all I can say is “AMAZING”….with chipotle sauce. I will never forget your recipe….with a grilled corn slaw. Kudos, maam!

  21. Charski

    Dear Aarti – I love you! I’m so glad you were crowned WINNER.

    NOW, my dear, I must tell you – “Monterrey” is in MEXICO! ;) “Monterey” is where the Aquarium and its “Seafood Watch List” reside. Just a little pet peeve of mine since I live in Monterey!

    I can’t wait to try these tacos – we recently discovered how delicious fish tacos are and these sound like a BIG winner. Thank you!

  22. Jason

    Love your show on the Food Channel. Just learning to cook and I’m going to try to make these for my wife. Keep up the good work!

  23. Savannah

    it tastes AWESOME!! great indian flavor on a classic dish!!! love love love it!!

  24. Michele

    Hope things went well with your delivery! We just welcomed our 4th little one a month ago…. What blessings they are!Crazy question, but I just can’t help myself…. The blue shirt you wore on your fish tacos episode…. What brand of where can I find?! That was the most beautiful shirt I have ever seen! Thanks!

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