Cap'n Fantastic's Fish Tacos

This is a feast that takes some time, but all the flavors meld together so well!  Plus, you can make the pickled onion, the pico and the baja cream ahead of time to cut down on the day-of working time.

Set up a tray with all the fixins ready to go, and let everyone custom stuff their own tacos!  Alicia adapted this recipe from a 2006 issue of Bon Appetit.  Make sure to buy a whole bunch of limes-- any extras you can just cut into wedges for beers, enthusiastic lime-lovers, etc.

Serves 16 friends.

Pickled Red Onions:
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
4-5 small jalepeno peppers
2 cups apple cider vinegar
4 tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbs. sea or kosher salt

Baja Cream (fancy style!):
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream or full fat yogurt
2 tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
the zest of two limes
pinch of salt

Pico de Gallo:
3/4 lb of ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 jalepeno pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice (or more, to taste)
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
salt, to taste

For the Fish:
2 cups of buttermilk or full fat yogurt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
3 tbs. tobasco sauce
3 tsp sea salt
1 tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 pounds of mild white fish, cut into chunks-- preferrably mahi mahi, halibut, black cod or catfish (these are all sustainable breeds that are not in danger of being overfished).
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
pepper to taste

16 corn or flour tortillas (warmed in the oven before serving for extra credit)
your gaucamole of choice
a vegetable oil with a high smoking point (soybean or sunflower work well)

At least 2 hours ahead (and up to 1 week ahead):  Pickled red onion
Put the red onion and jalepenos in a small bowl or mason jar.  In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, lime juice and salt and briefly bring to a boil.  Dissolve the salt by stirring. Pour the mixture over the onion/jalepenos mix.  If using that day, let stand at room temperature.  If not, cover and refrigerate.  The longer this sits, the better the flavors all meld together.

Up to 3 days ahead: Baja Cream
Combine everything in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Done!

Up to 3 days ahead: Pico de Gallo
Mix everything in a medium bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Done!

The Day of the Feast:  The Fish
Mix all the wet ingredients plus the cilantro and salt in a large bowl.  Add the fish and toss to evenly cover.  Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and up to 4.

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and pepper in a medium shallow container.  Add enough oil to a skillet to make a depth of about one inch.  Tturn burner to medium-high heat, and let your oil get hot.   A few chunks at a time, dredge the marinated fish in the flour mixture and add to the hot skillet.  Cover and carefully fry until fish is evenly golden brown.  Drain the chunks on a plate lined with several layers of paper towel and place in a warm oven until ready to serve (don't let these guys sit for more than a few minutes, though-- the'll lose their crispiness fast!).

Gather eveyone up and get them started on assembling their fish tacos, and don't forget to load a couple up for yourself!