Wing Lam, co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, started the first Wahoo’s in 1988 along with his two brothers. There are now 65 eateries in seven states, with dishes that incorporate influences from Mexican, Brazilian and Asian cuisines.
Wing and his brothers grew up in a restaurant family and lived in San Paolo, Brazil before moving to Orange County in 1975 where their father opened Shanghai Pine Garden restaurant on Balboa Island.
Watch Wing in action as he shows his “how-to” fish taco tips in this short video.
“The Asian community is all about work, work, work, but the Brazilian culture is about play, play, play; I got a little of both,” he said, ending his sentence with one of his trademark laughs, a rapid fire joyous trill.
Lam traces his fondness for fish tacos back to his college days when he attended San Diego State University and spent his off hours surfing across the border. Rather than using the traditional battered and deep-fried fish, he modified the cooking technique to charbroil the fillets for his tacos. One of the hot sauces is Asian, and his rice and beans have Brazilian roots.
At the heart of Lam’s success are his generous spirit and affable persona, as well as his delicious fish tacos.
Wing’s Charbroiled Fish Tacos
Yield: 4 servings
8 ounces fresh wahoo fillets or mahi mahi fillets
Garlic salt, to taste
Canola oil for brushing on grill grate
8 corn tortillas
1 to 2 ounces finely shredded cheese, a mix of Jack cheese and cheddar
1/4 to 1/2 cup (to taste) Chinese chili paste, such as Lee Kum Kee Chili Garlic Sauce or Sriracha (rooster logo on the jar) Chili Garlic Sauce
3/4 cup finely shredded green cabbage
Fat-free spicy green sauce, to taste, see cook’s notes
Fresh pico de gallo salsa, see cook’s notes
Garnish: lime wedges
Cook’s notes: Wahoo’s spicy green sauce showcases roasted Anaheim chilies, cilantro and fat-free mayonnaise. Their sauce is proprietary, but the standard recipe at Mexican fish taco stands, according to “Amor y Tacos” by Deborah Schneider, combines1/2 cup mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro and a pinch of salt. Pico de gallo is fresh tomato-based salsa that most often includes white onion, chilies, lime juice and fresh cilantro. Wahoo’s fish tacos incorporate an Asian chili sauce, a mix that Wing’s father used in his restaurant. You can substitute commercially-prepared Asian chili sauce.
1. Season fish fillets with garlic salt. Heat grill. Clean grill and brush with a little canola oil. Grill fish, 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on heat of grill and thickness of fish.
2. Heat tortillas one at a time, using gas flame and turning with tongs, or heat in a dry skillet (not nonstick). Stack two tortillas, one on top of the other. Place a 2-ounce serving of fish on top. Sprinkle with cheese. Spoon on some Chinese hot sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee Chili Garlic Sauce); top with cabbage. Top with pico de gallo to taste. Serve with lime wedges and accompany with Brazilian-style white rice and black beans.
Source: adapted from Wing Lam, co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish Tacos.
A quick tip from Melissas …..
Fingerling potatoes are delicious with both white wine and olive oil are used to cook them. It’s a two part process – a steam first, roast second approach. Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees.
The halved-lengthwise fingerlings are placed in a single layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour 1/4 cup dry white wine and 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil over the potatoes. Toss. Sprinkle on 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves and season with kosher salt. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 15 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned and tender inside – a little crisp on the outside.