Eat Real Festival: And the Taco Recipe Winner Is... | Civil Eats

Eat Real Festival: And the Taco Recipe Winner Is…

With just six weeks to go until Eat Real Festival, we’re very excited by the more than 40 street food vendors who will be selling their delectable treats from a wide assortment of wheeled carts. We’ve got an amazing array of homemade empanadas, tamales, pupusas, bbq, sandwiches, aquas frescas, nuts and fruit. To emphasize the real-world ways to eat homemade “fast foods,” we launched the Eat Real Killer Taco Recipe contest two weeks ago.

It was tough sorting thru all of the submissions and their different variations, but we finally decided on the winner of our Killer Taco Recipe Contest. Erin Vang totally wowed us with her “Tacos Natalia”—an Indian/ Spanish fusion with snapper ceviche (Editor: See comments for alternatives) and homemade tortillas! Her delicious recipe is also included in our special taco-themed produce box available from the Fruit Guys. Make sure to order your box by July 27. Below is Erin’s recipe.

Tacos Natalia – Indian/Spanish fish tacos

by Erin Vang

This is an Indian-Spanish twist on the fish taco that always wows ’em. They’re named for friend Natalie Sellers, longtime chef at the famous Towers restaurant of SF, who suggested the key ingredients–snapper and Spanish smoked paprika–that inspired all the rest.

The Spanish Part: Snapper Ceviche

Marinate 4 hours or overnight:

1 lb fresh, deboned snapper fillets, cubed
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika, e.g. Pimentón de la Vera, Picante
1 tsp best Indian cumin you can find, ground
1 tsp crushed chili aleppo

The Indian Part: Coriander Salsa

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

Buzz into a smooth paste in food processor. Refrigerate overnight to let flavors develop.

one bunch fresh cilantro, carefully rinsed
2 cloves garlic
1/4 red onion
1/2 Scotch bonnet chili, destemmed but with seeds
juice of one lime
1/2 tsp kosher salt
drizzle olive oil

The Taco Part: Tacos Natalia

Adjust seasonings of ceviche and salsa.

Assemble into tacos:

two soft, warm handmade corn tortillas (2C masa, pinch kosher salt, about a cup of water until texture is right; knead, press, griddle, hold warm)
a thick smear of coriander salsa
a generous (drained!) scoop of ceviche
a crumble of cotija cheese

Thank you for being a loyal reader.

We rely on you. Become a member today to read unlimited stories.

Enjoy! ¡Buen Provecho! Jam kar uraaiye!

Susan Coss is the Marketing and Communications Director for the Eat Real Festival. Read more >

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

  1. This looks great, but I can't help but notice that the recipe calls for snapper, an across-the-board "red - avoid" fish on the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch list unless it's hook and line caught from Alaska (in which case it's a yellow - good alternative fish, not green - good.) I'm very confused as to why you'd promote eating a fish that's unsustainable. Would it be so difficult to replace the snapper with a fish more in line with the values of the good food movement?
    • pcrossfield
      Thanks for pointing this out, Elanor. I would hope that another, more sustainable fish, like tilapia, would be an acceptable alternative.
  2. Elanor - thank you for pointing out that oversight on our part. To be honest, we were so impressed by the creativity and mix of cultures and seasons in the recipe that we overlooked that major issue. We highly recommend substituting pink or grey snapper, or even sardines, as the fish of choice. On a personal note, as a cook, I just can't bring myself to recommend tilapia. While on the sustainable list, it leaves me flat in flavor and texture. I'd go for chicken instead!

    Thanks for keeping us conscious.
  3. That's a good point, and actually your comment alerts me to the mistake I made in my recipe. Like many people (and fish mongers) I have the bad habit of saying "snapper" when what I meant was "rock cod." They're pretty similar in the kitchen, but rock cod is a lot cheaper and sustainably fished (at least at the time I wrote the recipe), and it's what I actually have used myself when making Tacos Natalia.

More from



hickens gather around a feeder at a farm on August 9, 2014 in Osage, Iowa. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

What Happened to Antibiotic-Free Chicken?

With the biggest poultry company in the country backtracking and other commitments to raising healthier birds unmet, the future is rockier than it once seemed.


Nik Sharma Offers His Top Tips for Home Cooks to Fight Recipe Fatigue

Nik Sharma baking at left, and tossing a chickpea dish at right. (Photo credit: Nik Sharma)

Far From Home, the Curry Leaf Tree Thrives

Zee Lilani of Kula Nursery stands among her curry leaf tree starts in Oakland, California. (Photo credit: Melati Citrawireja)

A Guide to Climate-Conscious Grocery Shopping

Changing How We Farm Might Protect Wild Mammals—and Fight Climate Change

A red fox in a Connecticut farm field. (Photo credit: Robert Winkler, Getty Images)