The aroma of Anthony Avila’s Baja style fish tacos certainly drew the crowds to Fire Station 3’s booth at the “Hope For Firefighters” festival. And no one left disappointed. Even the judges were impressed enough to give 3’s the grand prize that year.
“At first we didn’t know what to expect,” recalls Anthony. “We just went out for the camaraderie. I was working at 3’s and the event was right in our first-in district. The Marriott supplied us with their big restaurant size BBQ. I guess they knew us already, I mean we were there on false alarms almost every day. But we won the first cook-off and the rest is history.”
Anthony acknowledges that he has had a few mentors in the kitchen. His wife cooks in the old European style and he has gathered a few of her secrets over the years. And he would always watch the older firemen at the station whip up their recipes, jumping right in to help and learn.
“My mom worked in the fish cannery in the harbor when I was little, so we would eat fish often. And before I came on the job I worked in a wholesale fish market. There I learned about the different types and qualities of fish. There are many ways to cook fish, but this recipe is based on your basic fish taco - with a twist. I wanted to make it better tasting so I would put the lime right into my salsa.”
Anthony did his time in the raucous first battalion, and has since moved his firefighting and kitchen skills to Fire Station 85 in Harbor City. After all, the move does get him a lot closer to the fresh fish. Avila says that he feels lucky to be on the job, in a career his family can be proud of. And we’re lucky that he was willing to share his award winning fish taco recipe with us in the Los Angeles Firefighters Family Cookbook.
Fish Taco Recipe
3 pounds salmon (approx 1/2 lb per person)
Marinate the fish in Italian salad dressing. Set aside. Prepare a medium-hot fire in grill. (Do not cook on flat grill or griddle) Grill fish, turning once. Do not overcook. Remove from grill, let cool slightly and then pull apart into large flakes. Warm tortillas. Layer fish tacos in the following order: 1) tortilla, 2) fish, 3) buttermilk dressing, 4) cheese, 5) cabbage, and 6) salsa (see recipe below). This recipe makes 12 servings.
1 1/2 white onions, diced