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Authentic Vietnamese recipes from the Motherland

Hawaiian Fish Tacos

My recent trip to Maui has left me wanting to forego this life, pack up my bags and start a new life on the island. Life on Maui seemed so peaceful. People drove slowly. People stopped and smiled. As soon as I returned to California, people were driving like Satan is chasing them, and awkwardly dodging all eye contact with people on the streets by all means possible.

While I figure out how I can retire early in Maui, I'm back home in the States, trying to replicate the famous Hawaiian fish tacos that I had on the island that I recently beloved. First of all, I'm a lover of authentic Mexican tacos. I will seek the most run down taco trunks in the ghettos to get my tacos and I will proudly be the only Asian standing in line, ordering tacos de lengua.  I didn't think there was any other kind of tacos. But lo and behold, there is! I recently had the pleasure of trying my first Hawaiian tacos and they were fanny-smacking delicious.

Hawaiian Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage, Mango, Tomatoes, Cilantro and Sour Cream Sauce

Hawaiian Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage, Mango, Tomatoes, Cilantro and Sour Cream Sauce

I think the Hawaiian fish tacos are in a class of their own. Instead of meat from cow or pig as in Mexican tacos, Hawaiian fish tacos use fried fish. Instead of pico de galo or salsa, the ones I had was topped with fresh mangos and a creamy creme faiche sauce. Initially, I didn't think I would like the sweet mango on top of my fish tacos but the sweetness of the mangos paired perfectly with the tartness of the sauce, which paired perfectly with the fish.

I'm sure there are many variations of Hawaiian fish tacos out there so the recipe below is a replication of the ones I had in Maui. I even packed the paper menu from the restaurant in my luggage just so I can get the ingredients just right. For the first time making fish tacos at home, the recipe did not disappoint. I guess there is room for other kind of tacos in my mostly pico-de-gallo-and-tacos-de-lengua heart.

Hawaiian Fish Taco Recipe

Makes about 10 tacos

Ingredients

  • 1-2 pounds halibut or tilapia fillets (cut into 2 inch strips)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Flour or corn tortilla (I preferred flour over corn)
  • Sour cream sauce (recipe below)
  • 1 small red cabbage (dice)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (discard the stems and roughly chop the leaves)
  • 1 large mango (dice)
  • 1 large tomatoes (dice)
  • 2 limes or lemons (cut into wedges)

Instructions

  1. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Heat up a skillet with a generous amount of vegetable oil (about 1/4 cup) until it reaches 350 degrees or until a sprinkle of corn meal sizzles once it hits the oil.
  3. Dredge each piece of fish through the egg mixture. Let the excess liquid drip off. Dredge the fish through the corn meal, making sure that it's evenly coated. Shake off excess corn meal.
  4. Fry the fish on both sides until golden brown (about 2 minutes each side).
  5. Set the fried fish onto a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
  6. Fry the tortilla in oil using a small pan with a little bit of oil (about 2 tablespoons) until soft. You can also pop them into the microwave.
  7. Add fried fish to tortilla and top with sour cream sauce, red cabbage, cilantro, mango and tomatoes. Serve with lime wedges.

Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sour cream or creme faiche 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves (mince finely)
  • 1 large shallot (mince finely)
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt (or just salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons water to thin out the sauce

Instructions

Combine everything into a food processor or whisk by hand until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add more water.

For those interested, here's a short video of our Maui trip: