Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Grilled Fish Soft Tacos

This year for the 4th of July, we had friends over and made grilled soft tacos. Now, I know this may sound like an "un-American" food choice to celebrate the day, but hear me out!

Jason and I returned from Alaska on Sunday with more than twenty (20!) pounds of halibut and cod. [If you're interested, you can read more about that adventure here.] We had an amazing time in Alaska; it was big and wild and beautiful. What it wasn't was the culinary capital of the United States. We ate lots and lots of burgers, plates of fish and chips, and at least one steak accompanied by mashed potatoes from the box.

As you are probably aware, there aren't a whole lot of people in Alaska. There also isn't a lot of diversity amongst the population. In fact, I was actually struck by the lack of diversity, not just in the people but the foods we encountered.

But then that makes sense. Once I thought about it, I realized that one tends to follow the other. Where there is diversity of people, there is diversity of food. While Alaska itself isn't particularly diverse, when I think of America as a whole, it is a country of diversity. Further, to be American is to celebrate diversity. We are a country filled with individuals from all over the world - India and Pakistan, Mexico and Guatemala, England, France, and Greece, China, Japan, and Thailand, and on and on and on. Nowhere do I see this diversity exemplified more than in the foods we eat. Just in the smallish city of Winston-Salem, you can find restaurants influenced by the cuisine from every country I've listed above.

So, on Independence Day 2012, I choose to celebrate diversity. Diversity in citizenry and diversity in cuisine. Instead of the all-American burger or hot dog, we opted for our freshly caught American cod marinated in ingredients I found at the hispanic market just down the road. And boy was it good.

"This is America ... a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky." -President George H.W. Bush

"There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. -President Barack Obama

Grilled Fish Soft Tacos
Kelley Gondring

Serves 8-10

In a large bowl, add:
4 cups finely shredded green cabbage

In a small bowl, combine:
Juice from one large lime (about 3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup red onion red onion, minced
3/4 of one large jalapeño, finely diced
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pour over cabbage. Use spatula to evenly mix.

Green Tomatillo Salsa
In a food processor, add:
4 tomatillos, husked, de-stemmed, and divided
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup red onion
1/2 of one jalapeño
1 tablespoon lime
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Pulse until evenly minced.

Grilled Fish
In a large casserole dish, place:
4 cod filets (about 4 pounds)

Sprinkle each filet with salt.

In a medium bowl, combine:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon adobo
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
3/4 of one large jalapeño, finely diced

Pour evenly over fish. Let marinate for at least an hour.

Turn grill on high heat. Once hot, reduce to low heat. Place fish skin side down and cook for about 15 minutes with the grill lid closed. You'll know its done with fish becomes flaky.

20-24 corn or flour tortillas
In batches of 5-6, heat for 20 seconds in microwave (cover with damp paper towel) just prior to assembling tacos.

1 cup crema mexicana
Heat for 20-25 seconds in microwave just prior to assembling tacos.

To assemble, place several pieces of fish in each taco, top with a generous spoonful of slaw, a dollop of salsa, and drizzle of crema mexicana. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro.

Serve with Mexican rice and refried beans topped with the extra crema mexicana.

Eat up!

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