Go on watch the video below to see how these pescadillas come together. Enjoy or buen provecho amigos!
Chances are that a majority of you have never heard of this Mexican dish — I actually only had them for the first time after we moved back to Mexico. The first time I saw them on a menu was in the Riviera Maya and since then I’ve eaten them in many local restaurants here in Playa del Carmen. Each time they have been amazing and each restaurant had their own unique version of pescadillas.
The best way that I can translate the name of these crunchy delights is fried fish (in the case of this recipe, tuna) tacos. I did some research in Mexican recipe books and websites to see if there were any other translations, and the only one that I saw was as fish quesadillas. But I do feel that name opens itself up for some confusions, hence why I choose to call them fried tacos. Really once you taste them you won’t be as concerned about the name but more about when the next bite into your mouth is coming — they are amazing tasting! (Psst, just don’t call them “hard shell tacos”. :p )
Locally we use fresh tuna (or dorado or mahi-mahi) when making pescadillas, but you can use just about any firm fish that you have locally available. I took the recipe one step further to make it even easier to prepare than it already is. In this version I am showing you how to make pescadillas with a simple can of tuna. You are going to love how easy it is to prepare them but you’ll be blow away at the robust savoury, spicy, crunchy, light and fresh flavours that are going to explode in your mouth. These make a fantastic appetiser or you can serve as a light meal for two people — it’s perfect for hot days with an ice-cold beer or tall glass of water!
(Watch the recipe video above and print the recipe below.)
- one large can of tuna in water, drained
- a small piece of white onion, roughly chopped into small pieces (amount is to taste)
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly minced
- 2 Serrano chiles, roughly chopped (add less and remove the seeds and veins for a milder version)
- 1 Roma tomato, chopped into small pieces
- a large pinch of fine sea salt
- a pinch of ground black pepper, optional
- 9 to 10 corn tortillas, slightly warm*
- 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
- ½ cup of vegetable oil for frying
- green salsa or salsa verde (try this recipe or salsa of choice
- slices of purple onion, optional
- crema fresca or sour cream
- lime wedges
- Heat the olive oil in a small pan, and once hot add the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes until it softens up. Next add the chilies and sauté for another few minutes before adding the garlic and the tomatoes, sauté for five minutes before adding the drained tuna. Mix the tuna into the vegetables, sprinkle in the salt and pepper and give the ingredients a good stir. Allow to cook for another 8 minutes or until nearly all off the liquid has been absorbed or that tomatoes are broken down a bit. Turn off heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy pan or cast iron pan. While the oil is heating we can get the pescadillas assembled. Wrap tortillas in a clean kitchen cloth and microwave just for a couple of seconds — the intention is to warm the tortillas up so that they become soft and bendable. (Do not skip this step because if you do the tortillas will break when you try to assemble the pescadillas.) Take one warm corn tortilla then place about one tablespoon of the tuna mixture and place it in the bottom half of the tortilla. Gently fold it in half, creating a pocket or half-moon. Weave a toothpick through the tortilla to hold the shape. Set aside and continue to assemble more pescadillas or until all of the filling has been used up.
- Check on the oil and it will be ready or hot enough once it reaches a temperature of 370°F, or if you don’t have a thermometer you can stick a wooden spoon into the pan and once you can see bubbles forming around the submerged spoon area, then the oil is ready to go. Gently place the pescadillas in the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove from the pan and place on top of a place lined with paper towels to drain off any excess oil. It is important not to crowd the pescadillas in the frying pan, work in batches and be careful not to burn yourself.
- Serve topped with onion, some extra jalapeños on the side, lime wedges and some salsa verde and sour cream on the side. Enjoy!