From the time my husband brought home a package of rice paper wraps a few months ago, I started jumping from one recipe idea to another, trying to decide what to make with these delicate and crunchy sheets for Kitchen Tested. You already saw the delicious Thai Rice Paper Rolls that I made with Chef Zissie so now it’s time for something completely different! While perusing the internet, I found this amazing post from Ginger and Scotch about authentic rice paper tacos in Saigon and I knew I had found my inspiration. You MUST watch the video at the end of her post of a street vendor making the tacos over a tin bucket with a handmade grill top. Brilliant! I watched the video over and over again until I realized that I could try making my own version of these tacos in my kitchen. Since I’ve been meaning to make fish tacos all summer with meaty and flakey branzino, now seemed like the right time to try it out.
Roasted Branzino Rice Paper Tacos
makes 8-10 tacos
2 whole branzino, cleaned, scaled and gutted
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 lemon, sliced thinly
4 sprigs fresh parsley
I began by preparing the beautiful branzino. I bought mine from Fairway Market and I asked the fish monger to scale the branzino but leave it whole. I decided that it was time I gut my first fish. See, I grew up fishing with my family in Seattle and we used to love watching the fishermen gut the fish and throw the innards to the tiny fish waiting in the water below. It was a feeding frenzy! So I brought the fish home, sliced it open and gutted my own fish! I only wish someone was at home with me to take pictures, but here is the finished product.
I preheated the oven to 450 degrees F. and lined a baking sheet with parchment paper. I placed the fish on the parchment paper and drizzled olive oil, salt and pepper on the outside and inside of each fish. I stuffed each cavity with three sliced lemons and two sprigs of parsley.
I baked the fish uncovered for 25 minutes, until the tops were browning and the flesh was cooked through.
I set the fish aside for 15 minutes to cool then removed the lemon and parsley and shredded the flesh of the fish with a fork. Watch out for any bones! I picked at the tail and head of the fish but you can just throw that part away if you want.
Now on to the tacos! I preheated a grill pan on the stove over medium heat. I placed a rice paper sheet on my cutting board then spread some soft butter all over the top. I sprinkled some of the shredded branzino and pickled red onion on top of the butter and spread it out, leaving 1/2 inch around the edge.
I carefully placed the filled rice paper on the grill pan and left it alone for 4-5 minutes, until the rice paper was soft enough to handle but not too soft that it would fall apart in my hands. You will have to play around with this and touch the rice paper a few times while it is cooking so get a feel for the texture. I sprinkled the fish with the Sriracha hot sauce before folding.
I carefully folded the taco in half. There should still be some crunch in the rice paper when you fold it. I pressed down on the taco then let it cook for another 2-3 minutes to get those pretty grill marks.
I removed the taco with a spatula and let it cool for a few minutes before sprinkling it with a bit of lime juice, picking it up with my hands and devouring it. I used some paper to hold it since it was still very hot.
The more tacos I made, the better they got! Some had more filling, some had less and they all tasted amazing!