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Day 199: Smoked Wild Fish Chowder, Ceviche, a Big Salad with Salmon, Fish Tacos and Key Lime Pie from SoBo


You may have heard of SoBo, the eatery in Tofino everyone talks about, and likely the only little purple catering truck to make EnRoute’s Top Ten Best Restaurants (in 2003). We used to visit the truck when it was parked behind the surf shop for “killer” fish tacos, polenta fries (which I have since recreated myself with great success, and which was one of W’s favorite finger foods as a toddler) and the best Key lime pie that could possibly exist. They have since moved into an actual building without wheels, across the street from the liquor store.

When we stopped in this morning for corn bread (again, the Best Ever), they were busy squeezing row after row of golf ball-sized Key limes (named for the Florida Keys, they have a far different flavour than the Persian limes you’re probably used to seeing at the grocery store) for the Key lime pies, and I could hardly wait to go back for a late lunch, which turned out to be so massive that even now at 11 pm I’m still stuffed. But in the best possible way.

So really, it was dinner. The smoked fish chowder was possibly the best soup I’ve ever eaten – I worried that it might be too smoky. It wasn’t. It was so full of thick slabs of fish that I could have finished the bowl and called it dinner. But I had heard about the ceviche (fish finely chopped so as to almost be a salsa, and marinated in citrus juices that “cook” the fish without heat) and couldn’t leave without trying it, and if you go to SoBo it’s just a given that you get a fish taco. On the way in we spied a spectacular salad – one with soba noodles, one without, both piled with sunflower sprouts, and so we added that on too.

Lisa Ahier’s Ceviche

(pictured above – luckily this was printed in the July issue of Tofino Time)

16 oz. halibut fillet, finely diced
8 oz. spot prawns, finely diced
6 oz. scallops, finely diced
3 cups key lime juice
1 cup roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1 cup red and yellow bell peppers, finely diced
1/2 cup chives, finely chopped
4 serrano chiles, finely diced
2 avocadoes, finely diced
1/2 cup cilantro, finely minced
3 tsp. salt
1/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil

In a large glass bowl, combine the halibut, prawns, scallops and lime juice and let marinate for 2-3 hours. Drain and gently fold in the remaining ingredients. Serve with lettuce leaves and fresh corn chips, drizzled with a little more olive oil.

Killer Fish Tacos

(also from Tofino Time)

16 taco shells
1 lb halibut fillet,
medium diced
1 lb wild salmon fillet, medium diced
1/2 cup chipotle chiles
canned in adobo, pureed
1 cup red onion
small diced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp kosher salt

Dice the red onion and puree or finely chop the chipotles.

Dice the fish into 1-inch pieces.

Pat fish dry and season with kosher salt. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over moderate-high heat. Add the onions and saute them for 1 minute; add the fish and fry for about 3 minutes until just cooked. Add the chipotle chiles, stir for 1 more minute and remove from heat.

Fill taco shells halfway with fish mixture, then top with fruit salsa. Serve immediately.

Fresh Fruit Salsa

1 cup kiwi fruit, small diced
1 cup pineapple,
small diced
1 cup mango, small diced
1 cup papaya, small diced
2 avocados,
small diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 limes

Prepare the fruit salsa by dicing the ingredients small enough to fit into a prepared taco shell — smaller than a fruit salad, but not so small that the fruit turns to mush. Combine the fruit, avocado and cilantro. Refrigerate until ready to use. The holding time is about 24 hours as the fruit starts to break down. Also note that if you intend to prepare the salsa in advance, don’t add the avocado until immediately before serving, as avocado turns brown quickly.

But the Key lime pie. There are no words. Look at that cream. If only I could find love this pure and uncomplicated with a human being. I’ve finally discovered the secret to a strong and lasting relationship: make sure one of you is a slice of SoBo Key lime pie.

I know a SoBo cookbook is in the works, so I’m going to try to coerce Lisa to share her recipe in the meantime. Check back to see if I’m successful…


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16 comments on “Day 199: Smoked Wild Fish Chowder, Ceviche, a Big Salad with Salmon, Fish Tacos and Key Lime Pie from SoBo

  1. Laura
    July 18, 2008 at 3:35 am

    I was at Sobo’s a couple weeks ago! I agree about the cornbread…I have dreams about that stuff! My only regret now is not trying some of that delicious looking key lime pie…

  2. Lana
    July 18, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for sharing your meal with us (so to speak) and for the photos. They are across from the liquor store now? Cool.
    I LOVE SoBo.

  3. pauline
    July 18, 2008 at 6:26 am

    SoBo here I come. I will be heaven.

  4. kris
    July 18, 2008 at 7:08 am

    OMG!!!! I am so jealous of you!!!! Hey, let us know if the cookbook is on the way. I want to get one for sure. I’m from way up northern BC so now I’m going to plan to go to Tofino for holidays just to try SoBo’s.

  5. twomittens
    July 18, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    I think I’m in love…!

  6. bownessian
    July 18, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    um… did you say you have replicated the polenta fries???


    would LOVE that recipe.

  7. Dana
    July 19, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Hey Julie,

    If you know who is publishing this cookbook, let me know. I’d like to consider it for a review for one of my pubs.

  8. maplesugar
    July 20, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    OMgosh! I’m sitting here drooling lol! That key lime pie looks amazing – deadly in that I can’t stop at one slice – but amazing hehe. Is Sobo thinking of franchising to say, Calgary?? Now I’m thinking we should go west instead of east for vacation JUST for the pie 😉

  9. Kristen
    August 10, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Just got back from Tofino and we went to SoBo because of Julie’s rave review. Had the fish tacos, polenta fries and fish chowder – YUM! Wish we would have had more time to enjoy a few more meals there.

  10. Lisa Ahier
    August 23, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Wow, thanks for all the praise, I will show the comments to our staff. Polenta fries were published in Saveur Magazine the summer of 06 if my memory is correct and you should be able to see it online. We are cooking our tails off now in Tofino but when I get time to type up the key lime we will, but you will have to sqeeze lots and lots of limes. Peace Lisa

  11. fornetti
    August 31, 2008 at 7:44 am

    I do not believe this

  12. sklep wedkarski
    February 17, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Ciekawa strona, dodalem ja do ulubionych, zapraszam do odwiedzenia mojej

  13. Cherie
    September 27, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Would LOVE the recipe for the key lime pie as well – the tomato corn chowder was also amazing. We love going to SoBo when we are in Tofino – just returned from a trip and the food was amazing as usual

  14. JulieVR
    September 27, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    I’d love the recipe too – I’ve never managed to get it! I know a cookbook is in the works though – I saw the draft copy!

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