Seafood tacos are a popular way to serve fish, shellfish and other foods from the ocean. A wide range of recipes are available, utilizing foods such as mahi, tuna, wahoo, mako shark, salmon, halibut, grouper, red snapper, catfish, tilapia, lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops and others. Seafood tacos are simple to prepare, require few ingredients and make healthy meal choices.
Types of Seafood
Preparation of seafood tacos depends on the type of meat chosen. Some species of fish have a very distinct flavor and is best cooked in a manner that doesn’t overwhelm the main ingredient. These include species such as salmon and wahoo.
Other fish with less distinct flavor lend themselves to a wider range of cooking styles, including grilling, blackening and broiling. Mild fish, such as tilapia also make excellent foundations of fish tacos since their flavor can be improved by adding spices and using more intense cooking techniques.
Shellfish and other seafood make excellent ingredients for tacos. Among the most commonly used shellfish meats are lobster, scallop, shrimp, prawn and crab meat. The delicate flavors of shellfish are suited for recipes that contain two or more types of shellfish or other meats. Often, regional cooks will create tacos using local seafood, selecting species of fish and shellfish that compliment each other.
Depending on recipe variations or local preferences, tacos may contain additions such as lettuce, cabbage, cilantro, onion, sweet peppers, hot peppers, tomato, lime, mango, chili powder, cumin, sea salt, cheeses, sauces, etc.
Types of Tortillas
Tortillas are thin, round, flat, unleavened bread made from corn or flour. Corn tortillas are ancient, being made since the Aztec era. Corn tortillas are made by flattening the small balls of dough which are cooked on a griddle. Most corn tortilla recipes have around 50 – 60 calories and 1 gram of fat. The fat in corn tortillas comes from the masa, which is a coarse ground corn meal.
Corn tortillas are usually 6 inches in diameter and are best cooked before they are eaten. To cook a corn tortilla, heat a skillet to medium high. Lay a tortilla on the hot pan and flip it with a spatula every 30 to 45 seconds. Cook until lightly toasted but still bendable.
Flour tortillas were introduced into Mexican culture when wheat flour was brought to the New World by the Spanish. Flour tortillas have slightly more calories, as a result of the combination of flour and a fat used to make the tortilla dough. Flour tortillas are available from 11-14 inches which is the standard for burritos. They also come in a variety of thicknesses, the thickest called “gordita-style.”
Authentic tortillas are low in fat and calories, but there are many variables when purchasing commercially produced versions. Some tortillas on the market contain lard although traditional recipes call for vegetable oil. There are about 80 calories per flour tortilla and up to 2.5 grams of fat.
Either type of taco shell may be used for seafood tacos, with the choice generally being whichever goes best with the types of fillings used. The versatility and ease of preparation makes seafood tacos among the more popular meal choices. As with most seafood dishes, the success of the meal depends greatly on the quality and freshness of the basic ingredients.