Easter in Sydney – that extra long weekend when travelling is dreadful. If you try to leave the city on Thursday night or Friday morning and come back on Monday evening, you are doomed to sit for hours in queues of traffic. Yet, every year, people persist.
Thanks to our Christian origins, Australia gets one last ditch throw of summer with four days to lounge about at the beach while it is still warm. In the Northern Hemisphere, Easter comes in spring and has its origins in pagan spring festivals. Hence the eggs, rabbits and other symbols of fertility. In Australia, Easter comes at the end of summer when the days are getting shorter, when the weather starts to get cool overnight, and when everyone thinks “let’s go to the beach for a few days before it gets properly cold.” Cue the exodus from Sydney. North or south, the traffic is awful.
Around 85% of Australians live within 50km of the coast, and we love our seafood. For those Sydney-siders who don’t join the journey out of town, there is the madness of the Fish Markets. In 2014, over 50,000 people purchased more than 370 tonnes of seafood over four days. Naturally, being so near the sea is one good reason for our propensity for purchasing fish over Easter. The other reason belongs with Easter’s traditions. Christian culture treats Good Friday as a day of mourning, as the day of Jesus’ death, and requires that followers don’t eat the flesh of warm-blooded animals as a mark of respect. Fish, being cold-blooded, remain a useful source of protein.
For those who aren’t into religion, there are some interesting conspiracy theories that abound here. One of them is that the Pope wanted to prop up the fishing industry, and thus decreed that all Catholics must eat fish on Fridays. This conspiracy theory has been taken seriously enough that archeologists and historians have actually spent their entire academic careers attempting to prove or disprove this idea. As much as I’d like to say that this theory is nonsense and that no proof has been found, the amount of dishonesty that has come out of the Catholic church during the recent pedophile scandal makes me want to say that perhaps there is some merit in this theory as well.
The next theory is one of economic interests in Great Britain. If you are familiar with the story of Henry VIII and his many wives, you’ll know that he started his own religion – Anglicism so that he could get divorced. Suddenly, eating fish on Fridays went out of fashion. It was seen to be associated with the Catholic church, and being Catholic in England during Henry VIII’s reign was not very good for one’s health. However, this cultural change was bad for fishermen and the economies of the villages they lived in. So when Edward VI, Henry’s son, took over in 1547, he passed a law saying that everyone had to eat fish “for worldly and civil policy, to spare flesh, and use fish, for the benefit of the commonwealth, where many be fishers, and use the trade of living.”
The economics of eating fish of Fridays even affected fish prices in the USA in the 1960s when the Pope relaxed the rules so Catholics didn’t have to abstain from meat every Friday. It is amazing how much power one man can have. But then, he does rule a population of 1.1billion people (approximately 15% of the world’s population).
Whatever the reasons for eating fish on Good Friday – religious, traditional or just a love of the sea – one thing to bear in mind is sustainability. People should be concerned about overfishing, or the impact that vessels like the super trawler are having on the ocean floor. Perhaps the reason that it seems like there are more shark attacks in the news, is because humans are eating all their food and they have to look elsewhere for food.
Personally, I prefer farmed seafood, although it is complicated because many fish farms feed wild caught fish to their farmed seafood. However, there is generally less stress on the whole environment with farmed vs wild caught because there are breeding programs in place and a higher level of management over the population. The sustainable fish guide separates out species and farmed vs wild caught; and outlines the issues with each type of catch.
In this recipe, I have used farmed Barramundi which has a green rating by the Sustainable Seafood Guide. Note that wild-caught Barramundi has orange and red ratings depending on the region, largely due to the by-catch, so it’s best to steer clear. Farmed local prawns have a green rating, so use them if you can, and farmed imported prawns from Asia have a red rating so try to avoid them.
This Fish Taco recipe is fairly simple, and creates a great lunch for Good Friday. It has simple fresh flavours with a touch of spice.
Good Friday Fish Tacos
- Box of 12 taco shells
- Packet of Fajita Spice Mix
- Can of black beans
- 2 avocados
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- Olive oil
- Coriander to taste
Most of this recipe is in the cutting and compiling. Finely cut up the lettuce, tomato, avocado, onion.
In a pan, splash some olive oil, then scatter in some chopped garlic. When the oil is very hot, add the prawns and quickly cook them until pink.
While the prawns are cooking, rub the fish all over with the spice mix.
Pull out the prawns and rest them on a side plate. Turn the heat down to medium and add the fish. Once it is cooked half way through, turn it over and cook the other side. Remove from the pan onto a plate. Add the can of black beans to the pan and quickly stir until heated through. You can mash them if you want. I’ve left them whole. Turn the heat off and leave them in the pan.
Now for the assembly. On each plate, place two taco shells. You can warm these in the oven if you like, using the instructions on the packet. I didn’t bother. It depends if you like them super crunchy or not.
At the bottom of each shell, place lettuce. Then add a spoonful of black beans, add chopped tomato and avocado. Use a fork to pull the fish into chunks and add a few chunks to each taco. Add the prawn, then top with sour cream, a scattering of red onion and coriander. If you like chili or fried garlic, you can also add that here as additional seasoning.
Squeeze a lime over the top and eat.