Monday, August 20, 2007

Fish tacos

This was actually Melanie's idea...she said it might be fun to try to make fish tacos at home and it was indeed an intriguing thought. Molly and Dyanna were in the neighborhood anyway so they came over with all the requisite groceries, 2 6-packs of beer and their pico de gallo production skills. We fit a lot of people into my teensy kitchen and made a pretty good feast.

We used tilapia to make our fish tacos. If there is another mild, medium-to firm fleshed white fish that you prefer, you may of course use that instead. But tilapia is cheap and sustainable, so we just went with that. I cut up 4 fillets into small pieces of about 3" long and no more than 1 1/2" wide. Dredged them in 1/2 cup of cornmeal mixed with salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon paprika. After they were covered in cornmeal, put about 1/2 cup of oil in my dutch oven and heated it up over medium-high heat. You can use whatever oil you like for frying. Grapeseed oil is really good for you and cooks clean, while peanut oil has a high smoke point, so that's good. I think I just used canola because that's what I had in the pantry. Dropped the cornmeal-covered fish pieces into the hot oil and let them cook about 2 minutes on each side, turning them over when they became browned. Removed to a paper towel-lined dish in the oven. I had to cook the fish in about 3 or 4 batches because I think if you overcrowd the pot, they take longer to fry and don't get as crispy. When all the fish was done, just kept it in the oven until everything else was ready to go. Try to keep the fish in as much of a single layer as was possible while they wait--this will keep them crispier. To assemble our fish tacos, we had corn tortillas heated up in the oven along with 1/2 a head of red cabbage, finely shredded. There were also 2 avocados, sliced and covered in lime juice and salt & pepper, as well as jalapeno tartar sauce--to make this, we mixed 1/3 cup of mayonaise with a little lime juice plus 1 tiny minced pickle and 5 minced, pickled jalapeno slices. I'm not sure how they did it, but Dyanna and Molly also made a really good pico de gallo salsa--they diced up fresh tomatoes and mixed them with lime juice, cilantro, onion and corn. Maybe some other stuff too. It was delicious. So, when it was time to eat you just took a tortilla, put some pieces of fried tilapia inside along with tartar sauce, pico de gallo and avocado then topped it all with shredded red cabbage. Delicious.

On the side we had yellow rice (made with tumeric and chicken stock) and black beans--sauteed 1/2 minced onion in olive oil with cumin, chile powder, salt, pepper, a little cayenne, then added 1 16-ounce can of drained and rinsed black beans along with 2 minced and de-seeded jalapenos. After the onion was soft, added a handful of diced tomatoes and 1 tablespoon fresh minced cilantro. Cooked for about 3 more minutes, added lime juice & removed from heat. We also had cornbread--it was the same recipe that I wrote about a few posts ago and it was again delicious.

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