The best Mexican food is always made from scratch, slow-cooked with fresh ingredients. From the tried-and-true to modern spin, Latin American food expert Paul Wilson’s Taqueria has it all. These seafood tacos will make you forget all about carne asada (at least for the time being).
Jicama is sometimes called Peruvian pear and I was delighted to discover they grow in Australia in Darwin and far north Queensland. In Mexico jicama is often served as an aperitif snack, cut into strips and sprinkled with smoked paprika then served in a tall, narrow glass partially filled with freshly squeezed lime. This is a terrific alternative to any olive in my opinion! This tropical taco is given a South-east Asian twist with herbs, green mango, chilli and jicama for a lip-smacking and feisty taco treat. The marinade for the seafood is very versatile, the hero being the achiote paste, with its savoury, citrusy and complex taste.
Tips: Choose one seafood or white meat that can be precooked and served as a cold filling. If jicama is hard to find, you can substitute breakfast radishes, daikon (white radish) or even nashi pear.
- Olive oil for frying
- 12 small homemade masa flour tortillas or store-bought tortillas
- Micro coriander to garnish
- 5 1/2 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 5 1/2 ounces salmon fillet, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 5 1/2 ounces calamari, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup Achiote relish
- 1 jicama
- 1 green mango
- 5 1/2 ounces cherry tomatoes, cut into slices
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
- 1 small handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 small handful Vietnamese mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup Zesty lime dressing
Achiote Relish (makes 1 cup)
- 2 jalapeños
- 6 garlic cloves
- 3 1/2 tablespoons achiote paste
- 1 large handful oregano leaves
- 1/4 cup chardonnay vinegar or best-quality white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup fruity olive oil
Zesty Lime Dressing (makes 2 cups)
- Finely grated zest of 3 limes
- Generous 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
For the dressing
Combine the lime zest, three ounces of of the lime juice and the sugar in a small saucepan and simmer for five minutes, or until the zest is soft.
Transfer to a food processor or blender and process, gradually adding the olive oil and remaining juice, until emulsified. Season with salt.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
For the relish
Preheat a broiler to high heat.
Place the jalapeños and garlic on a small tray and broil, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes, until soft, caramelized and charred black.
Combine the charred jalapeños and garlic with the achiote paste, oregano leaves, vinegar, spices, salt and pepper in a small food processor and blend to make a coarse paste. Gradually pour in the oil, blending to make a smooth sauce.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
For the tacos
To prepare the seafood, combine the shrimp, salmon and calamari in a medium bowl. Add the achiote relish and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours.
To prepare the salad, peel the jicama and mango and, using a mandoline, thinly shave into slices. Place them in separate stacks and cut into thin strips. Combine the jicama and mango with the remaining salad ingredients in a medium bowl, add the dressing and toss to coat.
Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over high heat. Lightly spray with oil and briefly fry the tortillas to warm them. Stack the tortillas, wrap in a warm damp dish towel and set aside to keep warm.
Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add a splash of olive oil and briskly fry the marinated seafood for one minute, or until just cooked through.
To serve, place the tortillas onto serving plates, top with the seafood and a neat pile of the salad. Garnish with the micro coriander and eat immediately!