Summer Dreamin’: Fish Tacos

fish taco_a_little_yumminess

It has been cold and rainy and I am wishing for the sun and strangely enough something I never make at home – fish tacos.  Forgive the “unseasonal” recipe, but I am envisioning a beach vacation with some beers and fish tacos.  Inspired by a recipe that I recently came across in a Williams-Sonoma cookbook, I improvised and made our very own (and first) fish taco dinner.

I pan-fried the cut-up Tilapia fillets in our BBQ spice mix (we have vast quantities of it lying around for when we make peel-and-eat shrimp).  You can use a simple mixture of cumin and paprika and perhaps, just salt and pepper for the kids with some cumin thrown in.

It was a fairly simple meal to put together.  I made the crema is a jiffy using my mini food processor and the salsa took about 10 minutes due to the chopping.  I made them in the morning, before starting work and right before dinner quickly pan-fried the fish and mini peppers.  The cabbage, I bought pre-shredded and dressed quickly with vinegar, salt and pepper.  Though the dish has several components, it is a quick an easy recipe for dinner if you break up the prep. and do some work ahead of time.

Not quite what I was dreaming of, since the weather was uncooperative, but a yummy dinner that everyone enjoyed and at least satisfied a surprising craving.  Lovely with a glass of cold beer.

Salsa Cruda from The Williams Sonoma Cookbook

salsa cruda

This is a classic Mexican salsa, whose name means “raw sauce”, is a cinch to put together.  To make salsa combine 2 tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch dice; 1/3 cup finely diced red onion, 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro; 1/4 to 1/2 jalapeno chilli, seeded and minced (can omit); 1 tbsp fresh lime juice; and I tsp rice wine vinegar in a small bowl.  Season with salt to taste.  Set aside and let the flavors develop.  Worth making your own even though it takes a little bit of time.

Avocado Crema from Chow

avocado crema

Delightfully easy and delicious on fish tacos (or any kind of taco for that matter) and great for dipping chips in. 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 medium avocado, cut in half lengthwise, peel and pit removed
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 medium lime)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Method

  1. Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and process until smooth, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  2. Transfer the crema to a small bowl. If not using immediately, press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
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Salsa for Beginners: Un-Spicy Toasted Chile and Tomatillo Salsa

My husband is a big time chile-head just like Simran. Hot sauce is always on our table and at least half the shelves on our refrigerator door are devoted to bottles of Sriracha, Yank Sing Blean Bean Chili Pepper Sauce (my fave), Thai sweet chili sauce, every hue of Tobasco, Huichol and Tapatio even Portuguese Piri Piri and Malagueta Chili Sauce. [We ran out of Simran’s husband’s homemade sambal… more, please!]

Our older son is a mini-me of my husband when it comes to food so I predict that he will one day  follow in his dad’s footsteps when it comes to hot sauce too, although at the tender age of three he hasn’t quite crossed over to the spicy side yet. This salsa which we’ve been calling “un-spicy sauce” is a perfect introduction to salsa for future chile-heads and people with more mild tastes. It uses dried California chiles (dried Anaheim chiles) so you get the smokey, toasty flavor of chiles without heat. The tang from tomatillos makes it perfect on tacos, scrambled eggs, empanadas, roast chicken or as a dip for chips.

I have gotten totally addicted to this recipe and have been making batch after batch after batch. It keeps well in the freezer, so you can make a lot and freeze just the right amount for taco night. When I’m feeling extra-nice which happens every once in a while, I send a hot sauce valentine to my husband by pureeing in some canned chipotles in adobo (smoked jalepenos) and making a personalized spicy version just for him.

Un-Spicy Salsa (Charred Chile California and Tomatillo Sauce)

Adapted from Oaxacan Yellow Mole recipe from “Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen
  • 4 Dried California Chiles (these are the mild Anaheim chile in dried form)
  • 1 Slice of Onion, 1/2″ thick
  • 3 Tomatillos
  • 3 Plum Tomatoes
  • 5-6 Small to Medium Cloves of Garlic
  • Salt
  • Optional for Chile-Heads: Canned Chipotles in Adobo
  1. Husk and wash the tomatillos. Place them on a baking sheet (lined with foil for easier clean up) along with the tomatoes, garlic cloves (skin on), and onion slice.
  2. Place the baking tray under the broiler. Let the vegetables char on all sides. Check them every 5 minutes and turn them with tongs.
  3. While the vegetables are charring, remove the stems and seeds from the dried California chiles. Toast them briefly in a hot, dry pan. Submerge the de-seeded, toasted chiles in a bowl of hot water until softened. Place a plate on them to keep them submerged.
  4. Remove the peel from the charred garlic and add all ingredients, including the softened, drained California chiles to a blender. Puree until smooth.
  5. Taste and season with salt.

For chile lovers, puree a teaspoon of chipotle into the salsa. Add more chipotles a little at a time, pureeing between each addition, until you get to your desired spiciness level. I’ve learned the hard way, not to add too many right off the bat. You can always add more, but you can’t take them out once they’re added. 🙂

Cooking with Luisa – Taquitos

My friend Luisa, who taught me how to make Sopa De Tortilla recently, also taught me how to make Taquitos.  Taquitos are a Mexican dish made of rolled-up tortillas with a filling. The filled tortilla is fried and served with a variety of toppings.  Luisa demonstrated the dish with store-bought rotisserie chicken but these little crunchy rolls can be easily made vegetarian by using beans and cheese or any other vegetable of your (or your kids’) liking.  A side of rice and beans will complete this meal.  I am thinking these are a good vehicle for any kind of leftovers – I may try them with leftover curry one day! 🙂  Could work for school lunches and this will be a tasty addition to your birthday party buffet.

I am looking forward to my next lesson in Mexican home-cooking with Luisa.

Serves 2 adults and 2 kids

Ingredients

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed (leftovers or store bought rotisserie)

10 small corn tortillas

Vegetable oil for shallow frying taquitos

Garnish with:

1 cup salsa (store bought or home-made, red or green)

1 diced avocado

Sour cream or yogurt

Feta or queso fresco

  1. Place 1-2 tbsp of shredded chicken at the center of tortilla and roll up like a cigar
  2. Secure the roll with a toothpick and place the taquito in the heated oil (use a large frying pan or fry in batches)
  3. Fry on all sides till golden brown and crispy
  4. Garnish with toppings of choice (kids will enjoy this!)

If you make the taquitos ahead of time you can re-heat them in the oven and add the garnishes right before serving.