Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Two Bites and A Push

First a little update about the ant invasion in my garden box.  After almost destroying the plants with a shower of vinegar, placing cinnamon all over the garden and then circling it with boric acid, the ants were merrily trotting about the plants as though everything was not covered in supposed poison.  A simple Google search of “ants on fava beans” lead me to pictures and discussion boards from people with similar problems.  Apparently, black aphids like to eat the plants especially under tender leaves and near the flowers.  The aphids secrete a sweet substance that the ants eat, and the ants will protect the aphids in order to eat the aphid excrement.  A few well-placed sprays of water mixed with dish soap knocked off the aphids and ants, and with the temperatures in Maine being more “Maine-like” the plants are doing okay.  I may yet get a few fava beans this summer!
Right, so back to the post at hand.  Two bites and a push.  This describes the proper size of a fish taco.  I actually didn’t know this until Joe told me last week.  I have eaten and made fish tacos quite a few times and had never heard it described like that before.  I guess I was too focused on the food.
Fish tacos are marvelous.  If you have never had one, I beg you to try and find a restaurant serving them near you immediately.  In Long Beach, we typically got Baja style fish tacos, so that is what I will share with you here.  But fish tacos are really very versatile.  You can grill, broil, bake, poach or fry the fish and eat them with any array of condiments and toppings.  This would be a huge post if I gave you all these options so I will try to stick to just the Baja style. 
Baja style means fried fish topped with a type of spicy cabbage slaw in a corn tortilla.  The version I made was decidedly New Englandy, but I encourage variation and experimentation when making or trying your own. 
Fried Fish Tacos
I made these with a Baja style red chile sauce, both in the breading and in the slaw.  If you can’t find the ingredients for it, feel free to use the substitutions at the bottom of the page.

For the Fish
1 lb. firm white fish (suck as cod or haddock)
1 egg (with ¼ c. of the red Chile Sauce if so desired)
1 c. flour
1 c. bread crumbs
Olive oil

For the Baja Style Red Chile Sauce (as adapted from Bon Appetít February 2011)
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 Tbs. olive oil
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¾ c. water

For the Slaw
2 cups shredded green cabbage
¼ of a red onion, sliced very thinly
1 c. fat free sour cream (or Mexican Crema if you can find it)
¼ c Baja Style Red Chile Sauce
Juice of ½ a lime
¼ tsp. ground cumin

For the Tacos
Corn Tortillas
Sliced Avocado
Lime Wedges

For the Baja Style Red Chile Sauce
Heat olive oil in a small pan over medium heat, add the chipotle peppers and garlic.  Fry until garlic is tender about 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cumin.  Pour into blender with water and blend until smooth.  Set aside.

For the Slaw
Combine sour cream, Chile sauce, cumin and lime juice.  Stir to combine.  Pour the sauce over the shredded cabbage and red onion in a medium bowl, tossing to combine evenly. Set aside until ready to serve. 

For the Fish
Whisk the egg and Chile sauce together in a small bowl.  Place flour and breadcrumbs in separate bowls.  Season bread crumbs with salt and pepper.  Slice fish into strips.  Heat enough olive oil in a medium sized frying pan so that the oil is about ¼” deep. 
Next, coat the fish in flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs.  Carefully place fish strips into heated oil and repeat until the pan had 4-5 strips in it.  Fry the fish on all sides about 4 minutes total.  Remove fish to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with remaining fish strips.

To serve the tacos, heat up corn tortillas (wet a paper towel and place about 6 tacos inside the paper towel inside a plastic bag, microwave on high about 45 seconds, or longer until the tortillas are soft and pliable).  Place a tortilla onto a plate and place a fish strip in the center of the tortillas.  Top fish with slaw, cilantro and avocado slices.  Squeeze with a lime wedge.  This should be eaten in 2 bites and one push. 

 Substitutions:  If you don’t want to make the red chili sauce or if, like me, you can’t find chipotle peppers in your central Maine grocery store – use the following for the slaw.  Substitute Chipotle flavored Tabasco in place of the sauce.  You can also use any kind of fish you’d like but the firmer the fish, the more easily it will fry.  

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