Ciao Down Fish Tacos

I didn’t know I loved fish tacos until only a few months ago.  I met some friends at Cascal, and we ordered several small plates, and after I had one of the fish tacos with a cucumber and jalapeño margarita, and that’s all she wrote —  that’s all I wanted the rest of the evening.

LOVE these– my first attempt — easy to make and paired with the Italian salsa (yeah — I know — ITALIAN-Y!! Check out the capers!) and the infamous La Vic orange sauce, they  made me feel very Mexi-Italian.  This recipe goes nearly to the top of my faves.

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PICO DE GALLO:

  • 1 1/2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, not overly ripe, medium dice
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced small (about 1/2 cup)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

FISH TACOS:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup medium ground semolina flour (super important to the recipe because it makes the batter crunchy after the fish is cooked)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle lager beer
  • Canola oil, for frying (you’ll need at least 4 to 8 cups)
  • 2 pounds tilapia or cod cut into small finger size pieces (otherwise they won’t fit in the tortilla!)
  • Twelve 4-inch soft corn tortillas or smallest size available
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce, for serving
  • 1 avocado, sliced, for serving
  • Lemon wedges for serving

DIRECTIONS

For the pico de gallo: Mix together the tomatoes, capers, olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro and onions in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
For the fish tacos: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together the flour, semolina flour, baking powder, sea salt and some pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the beer and set aside. 

Add enough canola oil to a large cast-iron or other low-sided skillet to come halfway up the sides. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F. (Use a deep fry thermometer to be sure – or do it the grandma way and add a piece of bread to see if it fries and browns – if it does, it’s ready). 

Slice the tilapia into 1/2-inch strips or “finger”-size pieces. 

When the oil is hot, dip each piece of tilapia into the batter using tongs, allowing excess to drip off. Carefully add to the hot oil one piece at a time. Fry in batches until golden brown and the fish is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or skimmer and drain on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. 

Meanwhile, warm the tortillas by wrapping them in foil and placing them in the oven for 10 minutes. To serve, place one piece of fish on a warmed tortilla. Top with shredded lettuce and an avocado slice. Serve with a lemon wedge, and pico de gallo.
From Gabriele Corcos

Prosciutto-Roasted Halibut with Fresh Thyme

 

2 6-ounce halibut fillets

3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided

4 thin slices prosciutto

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped shallot

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 400°F. Sprinkle fish fillets with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon thyme atop each fish fillet. Place 2 slices prosciutto on work surface, overlapping slightly. Place 1 fish fillet crosswise in center of prosciutto; fold prosciutto over fish fillet. Repeat with remaining prosciutto and fish fillet.

Heat oil in medium ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto-wrapped fish, seam side down. Cook until prosciutto is brown on all sides, about 1 minute per side. Transfer skillet to oven and roast fish until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer to plates.

Add shallot to same skillet; sauté over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add wine and remaining 1 teaspoon thyme. Simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Whisk in butter. Drizzle sauce over fish and serve.

 

Makes 2 servings.

Dungeness Crabcakes with Lemon-Dill Aioli

  • 1 lb. lump fresh crabmeat
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • kosher salt
  • 1-1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs (I use the inside of a sweet French bread like a batard)
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Drain the crabmeat, if necessary, and pick through it for shells. Put the crab in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Scrape the mixture over the crab and mix gently until well combined. Gently break up the lumps with your fingers but do not overmix.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and the parsley over the mixture, and mix them in thoroughly but gently; try not to turn the mixture into a mash—it should still be somewhat loose. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.

Shape the crab mixture into 8 cakes about 1 inch thick. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. When the butter is frothy, add the cakes to the pan (8 should fit comfortably). Cook until dark golden brown on the underside, about 4 minutes. Flip the cakes, reduce the heat to medium low, and continue cooking until the other side is well browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over the cakes or better yet, the lemon dill sauce below.

Lemon Dill Aioli:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (Meyer lemons are in season during crab season — my fave!)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Mix everything up in a small bowl and to

Shrimp Cakes with Chili Lime Cream Sauce

SHRIMP CAKES:

16 uncooked large shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled, deveined
1 large egg
1 green onion, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons (or more) peanut oil
Coarsely chop shrimp in processor. Add egg, green onion, lemon juice, mustard, cilantro, hot pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Blend in using on/off turns. Add 1 cup panko and blend in using on/off turns. Form mixture into twelve 3-inch-diameter cakes. Roll cakes in remaining 1 cup panko; transfer to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate 10 minutes. (Can be made up to 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry cakes until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, adding more oil to skillet as needed, about 6 minutes.
Spoon 3 tablespoons Chili-Lime Cream Sauce onto each of 6 plates. Place 2 shrimp cakes on each and serve immediately.
CHILI LIME CREAM SAUCE
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce*
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Combine first 4 ingredients in heavy small saucepan. Boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add cream and boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Mix in chili-garlic sauce. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking just until melted before adding next piece.
Bon Appetit, September 2005

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