It’s constantly fascinating to me how a simple change in the weather can elicit such an extraordinary change in appetite. A mere two months ago I was still seeking out heavy warming soups. Now, as I sit under blueberry skies and the undulating warmth of sunshine, the mere thought of those soups past makes me sweat, though that could very well be this 90-degree weather.
My new cravings arrive as soon as June hits but the funny thing is, I have no idea where they come from. All I know is that I wake up one day and the only thing my taste buds desire is heat, spiciness, saltiness, and loads of flavor, which then progresses into burning urges to eat seafood and Mexican food. Usually I could care less about these things. In fact, they rarely find their way into our house. But suddenly I become the freak who hovers over the chips and salsa at parties nearly growling at those trying to take my Tostitos.
So couple nights ago my mom asked me what I wanted to make for dinner. “Fish tacos!”
It came out without a split second’s thought. Well of course I wanted fish tacos. I had only been craving them every day for the past two months! Ever since I ordered them at La Sandia restaurant in Tyson’s Corner, they’ve been on my mind. Grilled fish with spicy slaw, chipotle corn, and creamy avocado, paired with a cool glass of watermelon juice. It was heaven. I wanted it back. Well, turns out my mom had been thinking about those fish tacos too, though not with fond memories but resentment toward herself that she didn’t order them too. Undeniably, fish tacos it was.
Turns out, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be to find a recipe that recreated La Sandia’s tacos. There were so many varieties. Beer-battered kinds, those topped with mango salsa, and almost all were swimming it the horrendousness that is cilantro. But eventually with a recipe and a bit of, “I’ll just wing it,” we came out with something spectacular.
Fish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw and Roasted Corn
adapted from Ellie Krieger
makes 6-8 tacos
The key to these is good ingredients. i.e. try to splurge on some good quality fresh fish. We got a nice piece of barramundi and there was a moment in our kitchen after my mom unwrapped the fish where she flung it toward my nose going, “smell this, smell this!” “I don’t smell anything,” I said. Exactly.
We also used quality organic corn tortillas that we steamed and quickly crisped on an open flame. It made all the difference. We served this “taco bar/d.i.y" style with glasses of cold Vidal Blanc and I’m pleased to say it satisfied my summer cravings…for now at least.
Fish and Marinade
1 lb filet of firm white fish like barramundi or red snapper
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ tsp. salt
freshly cracked black pepper
7 oz shredded cabbage (aka half a bag of coleslaw mix)
½ cup plain nonfat greek yogurt (1 container of Chobani is ½ cup)
2 Tbs. Mayonnaise
1 whole chipotle pepper plus 2 tsp. adobo sauce
¼ tsp. cumin
zest of 1 lime plus juice of half lime
salt and pepper
½ cup corn kernels (thawed if frozen)
a splash of olive oil
salt and pepper
6-8 corn tortillas
cilantro (if you really must)
Mix the oil, lime, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Place the fish in a large resealable plastic bag and pour over the marinade. Coat the fish evenly and let it marinate for twenty minutes.Meanwhile, prepare the slaw and corn.
For the slaw, combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, chipotle pepper and adobo, lime zest and juice, cumin, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the chipotle is completely dispersed throughout the mixture. Taste and adjust any seasoning. Pour about ¾ of the mixture over the cabbage and toss to combine. Add any additional sauce if the cabbage still looks dry and reserve the rest of the sauce for drizzling on the tacos. Set the slaw and sauce aside.
For the corn, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and mix the corn with the oil, salt and pepper. Lay the corn out evenly on a sheet pan and place it in the oven. Roast for about 10-15 minute until the kernels just start to turn brown. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. If you’d like, feel free to roast some corncobs on the grill instead, and simply cut the kernels off the cob when it is cooked.
Meanwhile heat up the grill or prepare and nonstick grill pan. Grill the fish until it is opaque throughout and easily flakes with a fork. It will take around 4 minutes per side. Once cooked, transfer to a plate to rest for 5 minutes. At this point you can grill the tortillas and prepare any additional ingredients.
To assemble, grab a tortilla and plop and nice chunk of the fish into the center. Top with a scoop of the slaw, the corn, avocado slices, and a drizzle of extra chipotle sauce. Squeeze a lime wedge overtop along with some fresh cracked pepper and enjoy.