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Monday, November 8, 2010

Fishy Fishy Fishy Fish

fiToday was taco lunch day at school but Little Shack went on an excursion downtown with his class and missed it. What else could I do but promise him tacos for supper instead, but, instead of Old El Paso hard cardboard shells and salty ground beef filling, which he also likes well enough because he is a kid, we had fish tacos.
 Over the last 20 years or so, I have spent a ton of time in the Yucatan and Quintana Roo, Mexico. Yucatecan cuisine and the holy trinity of lime/tomato/cilantro still rocks my world and I have passed this love on to my kid. He still doesn't have the chops to deal with the heat yet, but he loves all of the fresh fish, sopa de lima, cochinita pibil, the ceviche, and when we go there he lives for  fish tacos. This meant a trip to Fu Yao, my magical asian supermarket where produce goes for a song and you can get a pork butt as big as your head for under $10. This always makes me happy. Just because so many of my friends don't really believe me, I took a picture of the ridiculously cheap limes:

I love Toronto!
Anyway, I found beautiful produce there but all of the fish was being sold whole and I wasn't in the mood for gutting and cutting so I bought frozen polar cod, whatever the heck that is. To be honest, I hate to admit that I don't waste my money on really fabulous fish from the fish monger I like in my 'hood when i am just going to cover it in a strong spice rub and then put it in a taco with a thousand condiments PLUS the package said it was "caught wild" so polar cod it is!

I made pickled red onion like they serve in the Yucatan that makes everything taste great, guacamole, pico de gallo and a chipotle sour cream sauce. In a perfect world I would have went to Kensington Market and bought crema for that but sour cream works just fine. I mean, I just bought frozen wild caught polar cod so it wasn't really time to get all snobby. I had shredded cabbage too but i forgot it in the fridge- doh!



I usually do corn tortillas but thought that it would a nice change to make fresh flour tortillas today. I use the Rick Bayless recipe and I pretty much follow it to the letter and they always turn out really delicious even if they if they are slightly misshapen. I like to think of them as the Charlie Brown Christmas trees of the tortillas world and we all love them very much, flaws and all.

I have to admit, i was not crazy about my "wild caught" polar cod and sort of regret not splurging on fresh fish fillets from the fish shop but it's too late for that now. I mixed up some cumin, chili powder and salt and let the fish sit while i made the tortillas and then I pan fried them in a tiny bit of oil and chopped them up to serve them.

Even though I will go with a different fish next time, it's as much about the condiments as it is about the protein and in the end, they were really delicious. I served them with a side salad of arugula, roasted beets, olive oil and pomegranate balsamic with some really mild feta.

Shack was kind enough to photograph a taco for me because I don't have a great camera and by the time dinner was finished it was dark out and my iphone wasn't cutting it. Photographing a taco after dark is no time to bust out the hipstamatic and expect the end product to actually look like a taco.



Recipes:
chipotle sour cream - mix together:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tbls mayonnaise
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp chipotle powder OR about a tbls of chipotle in adobo

pico de gallo - mix together:
2 finely diced tomatoes
juice of 2 limes
1 clove garlic, minced
salt to taste
1 tbls minced onion
at least 2 tlbs fresh, chopped cilantro or to taste
(i leave out any sort of fresh, hot pepper because the kid doesn't like it but if you do, add minced jalepeno or any other hot chili to taste)

yucatecan picked onions:
1/2 red onion sliced wafer thin - i use a mandolin
juice from 1 orange and 1 lime
1 tbls wine vinegar
salt
1 tsp sugar
pinch mexican oregano
a bay leaf

guacamole:
2 avocados, mashed with a fork
juice from 1 lime or more to taste
salt
a couple of tbls of fresh, chopped cilantro or to taste



fish:
mix 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder and a pinch of salt and sprinkle over both sides of the fish and put aside to sit for at least 20 minutes. Pan fry in a really hot pan with just a bit of vegetable oil a few minutes per side, depending on the type of fish and thickness etc

I serve all of the elements separately and let everyone make their own tacos.


We love fish tacos. In the summer we grill the fish and sometimes I batter it and fry it, sometimes i coat it in some corn meal and pan fry it to a get a nice crunch on it so tonight I tried something a little different and just pan fried it without any coating and I am not sure I would do that again. Here are two of my favorite mexican cookbooks. Dianna Kennedy is THE authority on all styles of regional mexican cooking and Rick Bayless is no slouch either so if don't know where to start, either of these books is a good place.