Fish tacos seem to be on the menu in many (if not all) the restaurants on Pleasure Island, which is home to Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and historic Fort Fischer. I’ve been making my own version for years but I am open to new ideas which means I have to go on a fish-taco-testing spree. My findings:
The Lazy Pirate’s Fish Tacos
They use the fish of the day and the catch is plentiful here this summer — flounder, grouper, mahi-mahi and more. Today’s catch was flounder. The fish was spiced and grilled to perfection and served in a soft tortilla shell with a mystery sauce. The sauce was spicy good but too heavy on the sauce for me so next time I will get it on the side and add as I wish. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was but I knew it had a mayonnaise base. I asked the waitress and she replied: “That is our pirate sauce!” Yarrrhhhh! (See my other post about The Lazy Pirate.)
The Dive’s Fish Tacos
Would you go to a place called The Dive? I mean, really? This Pleasure Island mainstay has pool tables, bar, sports on TV and a few tables. Despite its name, Bill, Patrick, Peggy, Charlie and I decided to give it a try. Talk about some awesome food! The menu is limited but, again, they had the ubiquitous fish taco on the menu.
This time it was made with mahi-mahi, one of my favorites. It was excellent and would please most palates even if you’re not a fish lover. The fresh grilled mahi-mahi was in a soft taco shell with shredded cheddar cheese, avocado, red cabbage, onions. The cheese masks too much of the lovely fish for me, but that is why non-fish lovers would love these tacos. But I would definitely order them again and hold the cheese.
A visit to The Dive is not complete unless Tommy visits your table and makes you his family. The bartender and waitress kept asking, “Is Tommy bothering you?” Of course not! Tommy finally gets kicked out and we add a drink to our tab for Tommy the next time he comes in.
Fish Tacos at The Sea Witch
The “Grilled Mahi Tacos” were made with cilantro, lime, cabbage, and pico de gallo. Another wonderful taste treat with more mahi-mahi. The catch must be plentiful this month. You can spot the Sea Witch from afar with its blue roof. The tiki bar is a local hot spot and the outdoor atmosphere is tropical with Jimmy Buffet music. The intimate inside seating with hardwood floors and white, bead-board paneling, looks like a coastal cottage.
Now, My Own Recipe for Fish Tacos
Growing up part of my life in south Florida, we had all kinds of tropical fruit trees. My mom would find a way to make lemonade out of lemons. We had a Calamondin orange tree with bright, tangerine-colored petite oranges. Their appealing exterior masked their bitter insides. Wikipedia says the fruit is used for household and medicinal uses like as a hair conditioner, body deodorant, ink stain remover on fabrics, for treating insect bites, for curing skin problems like acne, as a cough remedy, etc. However, mom found a way to turn this bitter fruit into a delicate and sweet preserve for toasted English muffins.
Such was the way of the mango. Our neighbors had a mango tree and shared the bounty with us. But none of us liked the pulpy fruit so mom chopped it up, added some onions, lemon juice, sometimes sweet peppers or chopped Florida oranges from our other orange tree, and some kind of seasoning. She put it on chicken, pork chops, and we dipped shrimp and chips in it. So…you know where this is heading. I adapted that sauce for my fish tacos.
Barbara’s Seafood Tacos
- Any kind of fresh, fleshy, fish, mahi-mahi, flounder, grouper, scrod, whatever is on sale at the fishmonger’s. (about 2 pounds for 4-6 servings)
- 2 mangos, chopped into small chunks — everything should be tiny bite-sized
- 1/2 cup chopped green scallions
- 1-2 avocados, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- soft taco shells
Mango salsa: Mix mangos, scallions, avocados, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Season the fish with any type of seasoning you like (this is where you improvise to your own taste buds). I’ve used blackened seasoning, Old Bay, salt, pepper, cayenne. Drizzle some olive oil over the fish to get ready to cook on the grill or a stove-top pan. Cook the fish about four minutes on each side for a total of 8-10 minutes (depending on thickness, this is only a gauge).
Spoon fish into taco shells and top with mango salsa.
Whew! This ends my fish-taco-eating spree! I’m moving on to other coastal culinary delights!