Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cheap Bastid's Fish Stick Tacos

If you're looking for fancy, gourmet, foo-foo, yuppie food this ain't it. Cheap Bastid is all about getting creative and making good food--cheap. Stick with me. You might like it.

I’ve been wanting to try my version of this Sam the Cooking Guy inspired recipe for a while. Finally, I found some on special at Stater Bros. which I thought might be able to meet the Cheap Bastid criteria of good but cheap.
I love fish tacos. I never had them until I moved to SoCal 11 years ago. Most of the time, I’ve had them at Rubios which is a franchise where fish tacos are a signature dish. I’ve had them in Tijuana where all manner of different kinds of fish find their way into tacos—once even having marlin tacos. Guy Fieri recently featured a San Diego hole in the wall restaurant’s fresh fish tacos (ahi ahi, halibut, etc.) on “Triple D” and Bobby Flay recently did one of his “Throwdown” shows in San Diego on fish tacos, going head to head and getting his butt whupped (as usual).

Hey! I lived in the Midwest for 30-some years and I’d kill for walleye or perch tacos or just a huge platter of walleye or perch filets, fries, slaw and bread like I used to get at Schartner’s in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin!
So, how can you put out a decent fish taco as inexpensively as possible? That was the question for the Cheap Bastid. Go to any fish counter and you’ll discover that fish is pretty expensive whether you’re looking at salmon, halibut, thresher, tilapia or even catfish. About the cheapest you’ll find is $6 a pound! So here goes. I think you’ll enjoy these.

Cheap Bastid’s Fish Stick Tacos
Frozen fish filets or sticks (1 filet per serving or 2 sticks)
Corn tortillas
1-2 cups shredded green cabbage
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced tomato
1 lime cut in wedges
2 tbsp“Miracle Whip” type salad dressing
½ tbsp lime juice
Hot stuff (chipotle, cayenne, habanero)
Pop the fish sticks/filets in the oven (the Groton’s I used said 17-19 minutes at 425 but that gets them a bit too crispy so I would suggest 375 for about 12 min, then flip them over for another 5).
While the fish is in the oven, cut up the onion and tomato and shred the cabbage. Mix the sauce. Put the seasonings in the sauce a little at a time, sample and adjust to taste. Don’t just dump hot stuff into it, burn your tongue and then blame me for making it too hot! I’ve made that goof too many times to count. But, you’ll need a bit more seasoning than usual so that you can taste it through the “mayo” and lime. I ended up using chipotle, cayenne AND a dash of habanero sauce but maybe I’ve got a leather tongue compared to most people. By the way, if you prefer, use sour cream mixed with chipotle or cayenne instead.
Let the filets/sticks cool for a few minutes. Then pop 2-4 tortillas into the microwave for 20-30 seconds to soften them. Put a filet (or 2 fish sticks) in the tortilla, spoon a healthy dollop of the sauce on top along with some onion and tomato and cabbage and enjoy. Squeeze some lime juice over the mix, wrap the tortilla over the top and you’re ready to enjoy!

Cheap Bastid Test:
How’d this do with the Cheap Bastid budget? The fish sticks, on sale, were $4 for a package of 10—and that’s the best deal I could find. So it cost 40 cents per taco for fish. I spent $2.50 on a dozen tortillas. (Here’s a lesson for you—Cheap Bastid ended up making separate trips yesterday for tortillas and limes because I forgot to get them when I was doing the regular grocery shopping. The limes cost the same but I spent $1.50 MORE on tortillas than I would have otherwise). That means each tortilla cost about 20 cents. The rest added about a quarter per taco. Tomatoes are $.77 a pound, cabbage is $.49 a pound and onions are $.49 and limes are 10 for $1. Let’s add a quarter per taco for these and a dime for the sauce, OK?

So, I spent 95 cents per taco. They’re $1.89 at Rubios. Not bad. But I ate 3 and so did Carolyn. That means we spent $5.70 which compares to $11.34 at Rubios. OK, not bad but it’s more than other “heartier” meals that Cheap Bastid makes. On the plus side, these were pretty good fish tacos, excellent for a warm summer evening and a bit of a treat. Give ‘em a try.

That’s the Cheap Bastid way. Eat good! Eat Cheap! Be grateful!

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