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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fish Tacos


Last night was one of those nights where it was really just too hot to think. I went to the store planning to get a couple of nice pieces of tuna to marinate and sear, but when I got there, the tuna didn't look so hot. Instead, I grabbed some haddock, a fish that I'm familiar with cooking. I usually bake the stuff in a hot oven with tons of heavy ingredients on top, but there was no way I was going to heat up my whole apartment.

The first time I heard the words "fish" and "taco" in the same sentence, I thought I might barf. I've lived on the east coast my entire life and never even ventured out west (though I really would like to), so my idea of what constitutes a fish taco was way, way off. I keep seeing pictures of these tacos in the food blog community and they don't involve heavy cheese, gloppy salsa, and flat wilty looking lettuce. They always look so fresh and delicious. That being said, when I made the decision to try making my own fish tacos at the store last night, I still had no idea how to make the real thing. I tried to string together a bunch of pictures that I had seen on other blogs and I actually came up with something that really tasted great.

This recipe is far from whatever a traditional fish taco might be, but it has fish, and it's in the form of a taco, so I'm still calling them fish tacos. I used sweet onions and peppers as filler, but I left them raw. I really liked having something crunchy and juicy to bite onto next to the soft avocado and fish. You can buy taco seasoning in the little packets, but it's also easy to make your own out of stuff you probably already have in your spice rack. Here's a quick little recipe for taco seasoning if you need some inspiration. I also found some pre-made corn relish in a jar while I was poking around the store, and it really added a nice kick.

I'll definitely be making these again as they were better than I expected. If I had planned them out in advance, I would have added a couple of things. In the future, I'll let the fish marinate in the seasoning mixture in the fridge for a few hours before I make the finished product. The fish was flavorful the way it was, but I could only imagine what marinating it would have done for the taste. I also wish I had remembered to buy some cilantro, but I added both of these things to the recipe below.

Fish Tacos

1 lb white fish like haddock
taco seasoning - store bought or home made
1 lime, zest and juice
1 bell pepper, any color (a banana pepper might be really good too)
1/2 of a sweet onion
corn relish
1 avocado
taco sauce
olive oil
salt and pepper
cilantro (optional but recommended)

Cut the fish into 1 inch cubes and place them in a bowl with the taco seasoning, lime juice, lime zest, and a little salt and pepper. Drizzle the fish with a little olive oil and stir to combine. If you have time, I would let the fish marinate in this mixture in the fridge for at least an hour (the longer you let it sit, the more flavor develops, so let it go all day if you can.) If you don't have the time, do this step first and let the fish sit in this mixture while you chop the veggies.

Slice the onions and peppers into thin strips. Chop a handful of cilantro if you have any. I wouldn't recommend slicing the avocado until after the fish is cooked to prevent it from turning brown. If you feel the need to slice the avocado at this point, drizzle the slices with a little lime juice. The acid will temporarily delay the oxidation reaction that causes the color change.

Heat a layer of olive oil in a skillet or frying pan on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the fish, making sure it is in a single layer. Stir fry gently until cooked through, about 5 minutes. The haddock was very delicate, so try to let the fish cook completely on one side before you flip or stir it to prevent it from breaking apart too much. Once the fish is completely opaque, turn off the heat.

To the tortillas, layer the fish, sliced avocados, onions, peppers, corn relish, and cilantro. Drizzle with taco sauce.

Note: A lot of people quickly fry the tortillas in a little oil before adding the other ingredients. I skipped that step this time around because I've been trying to cut back on my fat intake. However, if you would like to fry them, simply heat up a small amount of oil in a pan, add a tortilla and wait until you see bubbles forming inside. Then flip the tortilla over and repeat.

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