Guajillo Fish Tacos and a @ShortyAwards Win!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

These fish tacos you're about to make after reading this recipe are amazing. I promise you. But do you know what's even more amazing?

I won a Shorty Award!!!

Sometimes you have to forget humility and bask in your own awesomeness. I'm having one of those weeks. On Monday night I traveled up to New York City to attend the 5th Annual Shorty Awards in Times Square. Halfway through the ceremony, the #Food category was announced. Mind you, I've maintained a positive mentality throughout the campaign over the last few months, determined to give it my all and win this thing. Still, there is nothing more nerve wracking than those last few seconds leading up to the moment you find out the results. When I heard "The Kitchenista" called, a tie with Rosanna Pansino of "Nerdy Nummies," I wasn't prepared for the rush of emotions that hit me. Forgot about my stage fright and everything. Forgot what I was supposed to say. Damn near forgot my own name. I was just so incredibly surprised and amazed to find myself standing on a stage in front of all of those talented people, accepting an award for doing what I love.

The Kitchenista Diaries turns 1 this week! I'm still a rookie at this blogging thing, so to end my first year on such a high note at the Shorty Awards? Let's just say the bar just got set even higher for the coming year. To everybody who voted in the Shorty Awards and helped to promote my campaign, thank you. To all of my readers and subscribers, thank you for supporting me, encouraging me and inspiring me to explore my passion for cooking!

Okay, okay...on to the tacos! Guajillo fish tacos are decidedly simple in execution but the flavor is out of this world. I've been playing around with dried Mexican chilies over the past few weeks, using them in everything from pork roast to bbq sauce. Fish tacos seemed like a great reason to continue my experiment, especially after watching Patricia Jinich whip up some great looking Adobo Fish Tacos on the Create channel. I headed over to the Latino supermarket where I knew they'd have dried chilies in stock, and sure enough I found bags full of Ancho chilies and Guajillo chilies. I went with Guajillo for this recipe for its deep fruity flavor, with a couple Chipotle peppers added for spicy smokiness. You can easily substitute your favorite pepper here. The recipe is a twist on my basic fish tacos recipe, where a soft corn tortilla, crunchy slaw and Greek yogurt play supporting roles. Step away from the boxed taco kits and salty seasoning packets folks. Real flavor lies in real food, so make these healthy and delicious Guajillo Fish Tacos for your next #TacoTuesday...while you're at it, cook up some brown rice & beans too!

Guajillo Fish Tacos 

2 lbs fresh Tilapia (or other firm white fish)
8 dried Guajillo chili peppers
2 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cinnamon
1 orange
2 limes
2 cups shredded green cabbage
¼ c. chopped cilantro
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ c. Greek yogurt, drained
Corn tortillas, warmed
Olive Oil or Grape Seed Oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Equipment needed: Food processor or blender, large heavy skillet

Using a knife or kitchen shears, snip off the chili stem ends, remove core and shake out the seeds. 

In a dry heavy skillet over medium heat, toast chili peppers for 20-30 seconds per side, being careful not to let them blacken. Burning the peppers yields a bitter taste, so remove as soon as they are fragrant and start to puff up a bit. 

Transfer toasted chilies to a small dish and cover with boiling hot water. If necessary, place a bowl on top to ensure peppers are completely submerged. Guajillo chili peppers have a tougher skin than most, so allow them to steep approximately 15 minutes or until softened. Do not discard the liquid. 

In a food processor or blender, combine the softened Guajillo peppers, chipotle peppers, juice and zest of one lime and orange, garlic cloves, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, cumin, oregano, coriander, smoked paprika and cinnamon.  Add a good couple pinches of salt and plenty of cracked black pepper. 

Puree until smooth, adding some of the liquid used to steep the peppers if necessary; I used about 1/4 cup. You’re looking for a spreadable consistency similar to thick mustard. Season the paste with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Press the chili paste through a fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds or large pieces of pepper skin. If you don't use all of this for one recipe, keep any leftovers in a small jar, covered with a thin layer of olive oil. It’ll keep for a few weeks. I used my leftover chili paste as a marinade for roast pork!

Pat the fish dry and season each side of the filet with a pinch of kosher salt.

Coat the fish fillets with a generous amount of Guajillo chili paste on each side. Allow to marinate at least 15 minutes or overnight.

While the fish marinates, prepare the slaw by combining shredded cabbage, cilantro, juice and zest of half a lime, apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle just enough honey to balance any bitterness of the cabbage; approximately two teaspoons. 

To make a quick sour cream substitute, mix the juice of about 1/2 lime into 1/2 cup of drained Greek yogurt.

In heavy skillet over medium high heat, add two tablespoons of oil. Carefully place fish into the skillet and sear on one side for a few minutes. You'll know the fish is seared when it can easily be moved by the spatula. If you try to move it too soon you'll run into problems with it sticking to the pan.

Tilapia cooks very quickly so depending on the thickness of the filets this should take no more than a few minutes per side. It's going to smell ridiculous right now and you'll be tempted to eat it straight from the skillet. Wait for the taco.

I brushed some extra chili paste on my fish prior to serving, because...why not?! To serve, spoon some of the crunchy cilantro slaw into a warm tortilla, break up some big chunks of fish and put that on top, then a dollop of yogurt. Prepare to be blown away.

Now that's how you do #TacoTuesday!

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