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Keep SoCal Cool in Arizona Heat

A fish taco oasis brings SoCal attitude and cuisine to the Sonoran Desert.
Fish Tacos SoCal Fish Taco Company

Rising up from the sands of the Sonoran Desert in a town just east of Phoenix, Arizona, Pablo Reynoso has created a tiny oasis serving up flavors usually only found in taco stands along the beaches of Southern California. With 13 varieties of fish tacos and a beer lineup full of California microbrews, the SoCal Fish Taco Company is all about no-fuss dining, fresh seafood, and high-quality ingredients.

“This is authentic beach food,” Reynoso says. He should know. Reynoso was born in Torrance, California, one of the communities situated along the Pacific in the South Bay near Los Angeles, and his family has been in the seafood business all his life. Even though he now lives in the desert, he maintains those ties to the sea to make sure all the flavors in his restaurant are true to SoCal cuisine.

To do this, Reynoso tops his menu with traditional panko-breaded fried cod, served with shredded cabbage, cotija cheese and his own house-made baja sauce. But the sea offers more than just cod and he takes full advantage of those resources with more exotic fare, such as shark topped with mango salsa. Currently, lobster tacos are his best seller.

Besides tacos, Reynoso takes pride in the Southern California breweries he showcases at his eatery. “Fish tacos and beer are a great combination,” he says. He suggests IPAs to go with almost any of the tacos on his menu. One of his favorites is Lost Coast’s Sharkinator IPA. With its citrusy aroma and a lighter hoppy flavor, it comes across almost like a blonde ale. It doesn’t overpower the seafood and it has a silky, smooth aftertaste.

Just as Reynoso is creative with the resources from Southern California, we got creative in our own kitchen and came up with a recipe for tacos made with fish readily available in any market. Credit for this recipe goes to my husband who developed it to be filling but light and healthy as well. Taco spices and salsa flavor the fish, while spiced black beans provide a hearty foundation. He gets bonus points because it’s also super easy to make!

We took Reynoso’s advice and paired our tacos with an IPA. Our favorite was Founders All Day IPA. The combination of spices from the food lessened the bitterness of the Session IPA, and accentuated both the flavor and the hoppiness.

 

Fish Tacos

(Makes 4 tacos)

 

Ingredients:

For beans:

2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed

½ cup chicken broth

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon oregano

 

For tacos:

4 six-ounce filets of mahi or cod

2 tablespoons taco seasoning

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ 16-ounce jar chunky salsa

4 flour tortillas

 

Toppings:

Extra salsa

Tomato

Lettuce

Shredded Cheese

 

Directions:

In a small pot, stir together black beans, chicken broth, garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring and mashing occasionally, until the liquid reduces and the beans are a pasty consistency.

Meanwhile, cut the fish into bite-size chunks and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with taco seasoning and mix until the fish is coated.

Add the olive oil to a large skillet. Stir the fish into the oil until it is well-coated. Turn the heat to high and, stirring frequently, sauté until the fish is cooked through (about 2-3 minutes). 

Pour a jar of salsa into the skillet with the fish. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer. Allow the salsa to reduce until there is very little liquid left. This should take about 20-25 minutes. The beans and fish should finish cooking around the same time.

Serve on flour tortillas, layering the beans first, then the fish. Finish with desired toppings or eat as is.