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Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Mariscos Becerra, Playas de Tijuana,BC:A Taste of Baja Home Cooking
I can recall a dozen or so reasons why I haven't been down to Playas de Tijuana in all my trips to Tijuana, but my recent visit to the Tijuana Fish and Seafood Festival and the discovery of Mariscos Becerra has rendered them all just sad excuses.
Mariscos Becerra has been around for a little over five years, founded by Jaime Ochoa Becerra, who had pursued culinary studies in San Diego, but ended up in a non-food related business. That didn't last too long and Jaime opened Mariscos Becerra opened this beach restaurant to pursue his true passion, cooking.
As soon as you park in front of the restaurant, you're greeted by a sign advertising the trio of house specialties:chile tacos, shrimp pozole, and smoked clams.
The everyday cooking at Mariscos Becerra is handled by Enriqueta and Alicia. The style of cooking is a fonda, the matriarcal kitchens of Mexico that open have gourmet cooks.Their tacos come plated and are not the typical street shack type. This kitchen would be most recognizable to the people that have grown up in Baja, and ate most of their seafood tacos and dishes in their homes.
Here Alicia prepares fish tacos and the restaurant's own chile tacos.
It's a further testament to these women's cooking in that they use only a standard kitchen with pots and pans, no fancy devices nor professional equipment here.
Tecate beer is served on draft, which I must say tasted so much better than the canned or bottled versions. I was able to enjoy this without the usual lime and salt chasers.
The restaurant serves its own version of Baja seafood. The tostada especial comes with octopus, shrimp and avocado. It's lightly doused with lime and seasonings, a more pure form of ceviche. All of the ingredients at Mariscos Becerra are high quality and they use the freshest catch.
The camaron enchilado, or chilied shrimp is cooked in butter, as the home version is usually done. Instead of the standard chile de arbol rub, Alicia adds pico de pajaro chiles, or bird's beak, from her own garden. The chiles are popular in Sonora and just a little bit goes a long way. The pico de pajaro raises the heat factor but adds an elegance not found in say, chipotle, which has similar heat characteristics found in this house blend.
As you tear into this hefty taco, supported by two corn tortillas as they were out of the bigger kind, a luscious soup of chiles, lime and cream starts to form. The result is pure pleasure.
The fish taco is made with local seabass, perfect batter, and tender fish, seasoned to bring out the best qualities of the of the fish.
The chile taco is a taco of a broken down torito, a seafood stuffed chile relleno. The chile guero and marlin are sauteed with vegetables and spices, then placed in a crisped homemade corn tortilla with cheese. This is one of those items you'll likely order as many times as you shall return to this restaurant,simply outstanding.
The smoked clams, almejas ahumadas are shucked clams steamed with butter, vegetables, liquid smoke, and seasonings. The clams swim in a lusty, fatty broth that will find you foraging for the last bits of clam or any excuse you can to slurp another spoonful of liquid.
Shrimp pozole is a dish I've not come across in Baja, but what a find. I love green, white, and red pozole, but this shrimp version has moved to the top of my dance card.
Guajillo chiles provide the spice, natural nixtamal, giant shrimp, and slow cooking are what make this soup come together.
Well, I don't have a Baja mother and likely, neither do you, but we have Mariscos Becerra just a short drive from the border in the delightful neighborhood of Playas de Tijuana.
Come and experience one of the great seafood fondas in Baja California.
Ave. del Pacifico #743, secc. Monumental
Playas de Tijuana