Ottawa and Toronto have recently seen the rise of new, trendy, upscale taco joints. Restaurants like Side Door in Ottawa (listed as one of Canada’s Top 50 best restaurants by Maclean’s Magazine) and Toronto based La Carnita are garnering praise for their soft shell creations, bringing a chic take to the sloppy, finger food that Mom used to make for us on Wednesday nights.
La Carnita: Toronto
Upon my inaugural visit to La Carnita, I was instantly reminded of an underground Mexican place called, El Camino, I visited last summer, in SoHo England. Dark, almost grungy, funky and oozing with character, La Carnita is an amazing spot to grab a taco or two and enjoy a night on the town in the heart of the Big Smoke. The drinks are fresh and creative ( beer infused ceasars, and a funky twist on the classic sidecar to name a few ) and the tacos are mouthwatering. The nuts had an amazing night of drinks, laughs and eats at this happening nook and unanimously decided it was a favourite spot for nutshell reunions.
La Carnita’s tacos are unique and somewhat unusual, still managing to incorporate the staples of classic Mexican victuals: chorizo with mango salsa (a favourite among the nuts), avocado and chipotle for a veggie option and a cod taco served with lime crema and pickled red cabbage.
Naturally, our night in a Mexican restaurant ended with a few of these:
But that wasn’t enough to erase the memory of the cod tacos that were my personal favourite. In fact, I was so enamoured with this delicious roll up that I decided to recreate it in the comfort of
my kitchen my parent’s kitchen. This decision was prompted by two factors: 1) It was Bachelor night, chez Lalumiere, and I needed to feed the hungry, 2) Catherine refused to try the cod tacos at La Carnita due to an unfortunate run in a with a cod burger at Oysterfest and this was a way I could force feed her into liking the fruits of the sea in taco form.
Prep time: 40 mins
Cook time: 15
You will need:
1 pound of cod- cut into 2-3 ounce pieces
1 cup of plain yogurt
1 cup of mayo
1 cup of beer
1 cup of cornstarch
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 jalapeno, diced
1 tbsp of capers, minced
1 tbsp of cumin
1 tsp of oregano
1 tsp of dried dill weed
1 lime, juiced
1 quart oil for frying
1 package of tortillas
1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
2. To make sauce: Mix together yogurt and mayo. Stir in fresh lime juice until consistency is slightly running. Season with jalapeno, capers, oregano, cumin, dill. Add a dash of frank’s red hot to take it from mild to wild. (The recipe is already quite spicy without the franks). Add shredded cabbage to make a slaw.
3. Heat oil in a LARGE pot, bring to a boil.
4. Dust fish pieces, lightly with flour, dip into beer batter and then fry until crispy and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
After much skepticism, she begrudgingly tried a cod taco….we have a convert!