There are few better moments than that first bite of a good fish taco, preferably on a beach, and preferably accompanied by a lousy Mexican beer. Crisp, flaky layers of fish, a few shreds of cool, crunchy cabbage, a little bit of spice; the contrasting temperatures and textures taste like summertiem and balmy climates.
I wondered if the basic elements of a fish taco would translate well to a bowl of ramen noodles. My first thought was to make my own miso broth, buy some good, thin ramen noodles, and do everything from scratch. But then, my weekly cruise through mail-order food oddities on Amazon led me to this:
Tapatio. Ramen Noodles. I didn’t even know these existed.
For the uninitiated, Tapatio is to Mexican tables what Heinz ketchup is to burger places; a smooth, vinegary, lightly spicy hot sauce* that can be poured on anything from chilaquiles to dried out scrambled eggs. It’s a good all-around hot sauce that can be used for anything, and the fact that it was being used to flavor cheap ramen noodles meant that half of my work was already done for me. Authenticity had already been thrown out the window, the moment this dish was invented.
*My favorite thing about Tapatio is the slogan: “Es una salsa…muy salsa,” which roughly translates to “It’s a sauce…that’s very saucy.”
You can use any type of fish for this dish. I like using halibut, because it cooks like a steak, breaks into really nice firm layers, and won’t shred or flake apart in the soup. If you’re on a budget (or just can’t stomach putting a $10 halibut filet into a $2 bowl of ramen), you can also use haddock or cod.
The other elements are a direct transfer from a classic fish taco: shredded cabbage and pea shoot micros for crunch, some sliced jalapeños and green onion, a few slices of avocado, which get warm from the soup on the outside but stay cool in the center, a dollop of sour cream and some crushed chili paste, and a perfect 7-minute soft boiled egg, in a nod to ramen tradition.
The finished soup makes for an inexpensive, filling, hearty, cold-weather version of a beachside favorite. You’re going to love it.
The flavors of a fish taco translate perfectly into this hot, spicy bowl of ramen noodles.
- 2 packages Tapatio ramen noodles, or any cheap ramen noodle
- 1 large halibut filet
- 1 egg, soft-boiled (see note)
- 1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 cup pea shoots or micro cilantro
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 fresh jalapeño, thinly-sliced
- 2 scallions, thinly-sliced
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Hot sauce or chili paste, to taste
In a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, sear halibut filet with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on one side, until flesh begins to turn opaque. It will cook a little more in the soup, so don't flip it around a whole bunch or do anything crazy.
Meanwhile, cook the ramen noodles according to package directions. Transfer the noodles to two bowls, and top with half each of the cabbage, the pea shoots or cilantro micros, the jalapeño, scallions, sour cream, lime, and hot sauce. Cut the halibut filet in half, and divide between the two bowls, seared-side up. Cut the soft-boiled egg in half lengthwise, float face-up in the soup, and enjoy.
For a perfect ramen-ready soft boiled egg, bring a pan of water to a boil. Cook egg for seven minutes, then transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking and help with peeling.