Spicy Catfish Tacos with Mango Salsa & Sweet Plantains

I just returned from Vancouver where I spent an eventful 18 days!  August is just the absolute best time to visit because the weather is practically perfect.  Bright blue skies with the occasional cluster of clouds, and 80 degrees.

 I spent quite a bit of time in my mother's care center. Because of the way Vancouver Coastal Health categorizes the levels of old people needing "extended care", they jam the old folks who simply can't get around any more in with the old folks who are senile.  This will sound awful, but I find there is something extremely fascinating about the way old people go crazy!  My mother's current roommate is mobile but loony.  Last time I saw her, she set off her bed alarm when she got out of bed, and thought it was her telephone ("Hello, hello?").  Then she unscrewed her light bulb and generously offered it to me, saying "Here's a little bit of this!  I have been using it lately. "  In her mind, a nice bottle of perfume?  Then she asked me if I thought she should accept her friend's romantic suggestion, since said friend had been frequently urging her to go to bed with doubt the nurse saying  every night, "Let's go to bed, shall we?". 

Also, I don't remember Vancouver being so full of crime & drama.  Within 20 minutes of arriving in Vancouver, we witnessed an arrest of a suspicious youth on the Sky Train.  We had 2 bag snatching incidents, and a high speed car chase - turned out, I had annoyed a driver by mistakenly driving with my high beams on.  Also, the side of my rental car was somehow mysteriously smashed up, and I got a flat tire. Lighthouse Park is apparently a haven for car thieves.  I also dropped my keys at the bottom of the trail which led to an hour of frantic searching before they were discovered in the hands of the caretaker.  Last, but not least, I was sick for 3 days with the Norovirus (the cruise ship virus) which I caught at the old age home - it was later quarantined by the Board of Health for 10 days of our stay. 

The food is very nice in Vancouver and you don't have to always eat at the most expensive spots to get the best feeds - in fact, the only upscale restaurant we tried, "A Kettle of Fish", was a serious disappointment.  Certain Canadian culinary specialties should not be missed, such as the "Date Bars" (crumbly dessert bars) - the best ones we found were at Whole Foods - " Smokies" (sausages) from a stand at Granville Island, and the Canadian mainstay, Greek food, which can be purchased economically at "OPA" in the fast food court at Park Royal. 

It's a no-brainer that seafood is a must in Vancouver - I had several great Salmon Burgers, one at "The Cheshire Cheese" in the Lonsdale Quay, an amazing Oyster Burger at "Troll's" in Horseshoe Bay, excellent Fish and Chips at the Dundarave beach shack, Mussels in White Wine at the re-named "Bistro du Paris" on Denman Street which is still my friend Cat's number one favorite -  it was called the "Cafe du Paris" for at least 30 years but we learned that the owner had gone missing 2 years ago and never had been found (I'm assuming someone went looking). Apparently, in accordance with the law, they waited for 2 full years before they could sell the restaurant, so when we ate there last year it was under the mystery of his disappearance and we didn't even know it. 

Also, we had some excellent Fish Tacos in Gastown and I can't believe that I had never tried them before. I had to have a go at them as soon as I got back home.  Here is my recipe made with Catfish - and it's really delicious!

Spicy Catfish Tacos with Mango Salsa & Sweet Plantains
 serves 4
8 small soft corn tortillas
 2 ripe sweet plantains
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 - 4 fillets of catfish
1/2 cup flour
1/4 vegetable oil
chili powder
salt & pepper
1/4 cup mild cheese, grated

1 ripe mango, diced
1 small white onion
1 ripe tomato or 2 canned tomatoes
1 tomatillo
juice of 1/2 lime

Step #1: slice the plantains

and fry the plantains in 2 tblsp vegetable oil on low heat (they burn easily)

Chop all the ingredients for the salsa

and combine in a bowl - squeeze the 1/2 lime juice and mix

Place the flour in a plastic bag (with no holes!) 
1 at a time, put the catfish fillets in and shake to coat with flour
Season with Chili powder, salt & pepper
Fry in 2 tbls vegetable oil for about 5 minutes

Turn the catfish (gently!) and fry on the flip side
Add a squeeze of fresh lime
Add 1 - 2 tblsp chili pepper sauce

They should be golden brown on both sides

Heat the corn tortillas in the oven for 5 minutes or microwave for 1 minute
Easily assemble the tacos with 1/2 of a catfish piece, and
top with Mango Salsa & fresh grated cheese.

The sweet plantains and the salsa are the perfect match for the spicy catfish seasonings.

Men and fish are alike. They both get into trouble when they open their mouths.

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  1. What a great recipes and I just LOVE sweet plantains but I don't even know where to buy them. I never see them in any produce stores.

  2. Hi Rosemary, they are easy to find in Hispanic grocery stores - if you have any in your neighborhood.

  3. This looks delicious. I also like catfish but I can never think of a good way to cook it, other than frying it up. I like this idea a lot.