Angela's Fish Tacos

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

I debated whether or not to post my "go-to" fish tacos recipe. Then I read this disaster of an article on what constitutes a "real" Baja-style fish taco and decided to weigh in. If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I love to get creative with my tacos. I'm all for it. I even wrote a post on ways to branch out with taco recipes while staying healthy. I disagreed with the author's stance of non-traditional salsas or seasonings (bring on the mangoes), but then I saw that her own ingredient list included Sriracha and had to laugh at the hypocrisy. Whatever. My real issue with the article is that there is also absolutely NO requirement that fish needs to be batter dipped and fried to constitute an authentic baja-style fish taco.I also don't see the point of using mayo, Mexican crema and whole milk to make a white sauce. Not only is that overkill on ingredients, but Greek Yogurt does the job just fine without all the extra fat and chemicals. Nonsense like that is why American diets are tragically unhealthy.

No need to fry fish this fresh!
One thing I think the article did get right is the "Holy Trinity" of the fish taco - white fish, cabbage slaw, and a creamy white sauce. My fish tacos are true to that, without all the grease. This is what I usually have in mind as a boilerplate recipe before I start getting creative with ways to kick things up. And because the Tilapia, cabbage and tortillas are typically the only thing I need to buy fresh, this is easily a meal I can do for $10 or less. Fish tacos are one of those meals I can always throw together without thinking much or a lot of prep time. My son asked me the other day, "Mom can we just have a normal dinner that doesn't take 2 hours to make?" (Mind you this is the same kid who asked for lamb chops for breakfast last week. I can't keep up.) Anyway, he had a point so I obliged. Fish tacos are family-friendly, quick to prepare, and simply delicious without a lot of fuss or effort.

Angela's Fish Tacos

1 lb white fish fillets, such as Tilapia
1/2 onion, sliced (optional)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of cinnamon
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
2-3 limes (including zest of 1 lime)
1 1/2 c. shredded cabbage (red or green)
1 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 -3 tsp honey
1 jalapeno, cored, de-seeded & diced
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 c. Greek Yogurt, drained
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
6 tortillas

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Equipment Needed: Large skillet, small skillet (or microwave)

Tilapia doesn't need a long time to marinate so I usually just start by seasoning my fish and letting it hang out in the fridge until I'm ready to cook it. Slice the fillets into large chunks and season with garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, cinnamon, and the juice of a lime. Season as lightly or liberally as your taste dictates, it's pretty hard to screw this one up.

I usually make a pot of rice and beans to go with my tacos, but since I had half of a huge sweet potato left from another dinner, I sliced it up, tossed with coconut oil, seasoned with the same spices and popped the pan into the oven to make baked sweet potato fries!

To make a quick slaw, add the diced jalapenos, chopped cilantro and zest of one lime to a bowl of shredded cabbage. Red cabbage has been ridiculously cheap lately, so I've been buying a whole head of it and shredding it ahead of time. It can easily stretch two or three meals this way and stays fresh in a Ziploc bag or other sealed container. Now, I didn't shred the cabbage too finely for that reason since I didn't know how I planned to use it but I love how the bigger pieces add a bit more of a crunch to the taco.

I usually make a dressing for my slaw with some variation of lime juice, vinegar, oil, and if necessary a sweetener. For the purposes of writing a recipe I indicated measurements, but as with anything else it's important to taste your own ingredients and make adjustments as you go along. In this case, I mixed together the juice of 1 lime, tablespoon of rice wine vinegar, a couple teaspoons of honey and a splash of coconut oil. The sweetness gave a nice balance to the diced jalapenos and cabbage. 

Toss the slaw with the dressing, season to taste with sea salt & pepper, and set aside.

My healthy substitution for sour cream is simply Greek Yogurt mixed with a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of sea salt. How easy is that?

I deviated a tiny bit from my standard recipe and sauteed my onions first in a little bit of coconut oil. Usually I toss them into my slaw raw, or don't use them at all. Whatever works for you. My son said he likes the cooked onions better and I think I agree with him on that!

Over medium high heat using about a tablespoon of coconut oil, sear the fish chunks for 2-3 minutes each side until the fish turns opaque and begins to flake. Season with a good pinch of sea salt and pepper. You'll also want to heat your tortillas in a small ungreased skillet or warm them in the microwave, per package directions.

Spoon some slaw into a warmed tortilla, add a few chunks of fish and onions, top with a dollop of yogurt and garnish with fresh cilantro. Now that's my idea of good eating!

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