Thursday, August 18, 2011

Grilled Fish Tacos

Fish tacos have recently gained popularity all over the US, including all the way up here in the northeast. While they aren't found incredibly frequently on restaurant menus, they are beginning to enter the culinary consciousness of a wide audience, so to speak. This being the case, I decided to try my hand at homemade fish tacos. Classically, fish tacos are made with battered and fried white fish or grilled fish. I decided that grilled fish sounded like a great plan for a recent cookout that I hosted, and so the idea was born. In addition to the fish, these tacos usually come with lettuce or cabbage, pico de gallo, and sour cream. I tweaked these a little bit to make my own unique creation:

The first step is to choose the right fish. In general, most white fish will work, but if you choose to grill the fish as I did, you have to be a bit more meticulous in selection, as many white fish don't hold up well to the grill. I ended up going with mahi mahi fillets, which are especially delicious in the summer time. I marinated the fish for about 1 hour (I generally feel that longer marination for fish leads to a negative change in texture, so 1 hour is the max I do with fish). For 4 mahi fillets, I used the following ingredients to marinate:

- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tbsp red chili powder or cayenne
- 2 tbsp cumin powder
- 2 tbsp salt
- pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp oil

During the marination, I flipped the fish once in the glass dish they were in to ensure total absorption of the flavors. Look how beautiful these fish were!

To grill these filets, I just did 5-6 minutes per side on my charcoal grill. I poured excess marinade over the fish as the grilled. After grilling, cover the hot fish in foil for 5-10 minutes, and then shred with two forks.

Look through the rest of the recipe before grilling, as the fish can be done last.

Instead of going with just raw cabbage for the tacos, I decided to make a vinegar-based slaw. For aesthetic reasons, I chose to make my slaw from all red cabbage. Making the slaw is easy, just mix the following ingredients together, and let the cabbage take in the flavors for a few hours in the fridge:

- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 jalapenos/fresno peppers or cherry peppers, diced
- 1 head red cabbage, shredded
- salt and pepper to taste

Now, for the sour cream part: I added 6 chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, 1 tsp of garlic powder, and salt to a small tub of sour cream to make a "Baja" sauce. It's a small touch, but it adds a nice zest to the taco (or anything else you put it on!).

Lastly, I made a pico de gallo or salsa fresca. Unlike bottled salsas, salsa fresca is completely raw. It is good to make during the summer when sweet tomatoes are in season. It is so refreshing, and easy to make. Like the slaw, simply combine (mix well!) the following ingredients and let the flavors meld and develop in the fridge for a few hours (although the salsa is good to eat after just 15 minutes really, it just gets better and better in the fridge):

6 ripe tomatoes (I used 2 each of red, orange, and yellow for color reasons), diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1-3 jalapenos, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Finally, the last component of the tacos: the tortillas. Fish tacos are always made with soft shells. I elected to go with the small size of tortillas (and I served both corn tortillas and regular tortillas for variety), as this made it manageable to eat in one hand. To prepare the tortillas, we simply lightly brushed each with oil, and put them in the oven at 400 for 5-7 minutes until the tortillas were pliable (you could also do this on the grill). I then laid everything out (warm tortillas, salsa fresca, Baja sauce, slaw, and shredded mahi), and let people make their own tacos.

Yum! I definitely recommend this recipe for your next get together!


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