There may have been a fish taco extravaganza in my backyard Monday night.
I love cooking like this. I took inspiration from both new neighbor's tastes and the newfound return of balmy weather to Boston and lept in to the creation of the perfect grilled fish taco.
I surfed through a few dozen Googled recipes and culled out my favorite combination of ingredients. There wasn't any one that was perfects, so the recipe that follows is definitely both a mashup of styles and original.
In my experience, for a truly memorable meal, most of the effort happens on the front end in planning, shopping for and choosing your ingredients. 1/4 planning, 1/4 ingredient selection and shopiing, 1/4 prep and 1/4 actual cooking. Maybe even less on that last fraction, when presentation occupies some portion of that as well.
Anyway, I started with choosing the fish itself. Local wild bluefish and some very fresh monkfish and tilapia were all quite affordable and held together well on the grill. Preparing the fish was simple. I placed all of the filets in a Pyrex pan and slathered them in safflower oil, citrus salt and pepper. I cut up a Vidalia onion into thick discs and de-seeded the jalapeno, added both to the fish in the dish and set them the pan aside, out of reach of the ever-present Roberta. She's quite the chowhound.
After that, the sous chef de jour and I got to work prepping the rest of the groceries.
Those included, first and foremost, a dozen soft corn tortillas for soft tacos and another dozen hard corn taco shells. I've always hated hard tacos that break when you eat them, so I planned to enfold the hard shell with the soft to avoid taco in the lap. That worked out well -- especially when I melted cheese and added grilled, chopped onions between the layers.
While I could have liked to have had avocado, I couldn't find any suitably fully ripe ones at the market.
Even without it, the essential fish taco I wanted included the following:
chopped red cabbage seasoned with soy, mirin, pumpkin seed oil and S&P
minced red onion
roasted sweet corn
chopped cilantro and diced scallions
The corn prep was satisfyingly easy. I just de-silked the ear, retaining the husk, and then soaked it in water. When grill was ready, I put it on to steam. Easy, simple and tasty. I sliced the kernels from the cob; this is definitely a new favorite way to eat corn.
The finished fish taco, with two layers of corn tortillas, grilled sweet onion, melted chedder/jack cheese, sour cream, red cabbage and onion, cilantro, salsa, scallions and key lime juice was one of the better scratch dinners I've done recently.
Economical, too. I fed five people and had enough for two more today.
While there was a brief concern as the gas grill failed to get up to full strength, I actually preferred using the pot-bellied Weber with charcoal briquets. I like the taste more and the loving attention required speaks to me on some fundamental level. It may be about the fire -- pyromania of a modest sort has been with me since the very earliest age.
Snow gets full cred for plating and inspiration, some sweet sous cheffery & most definitely for the photography above. And helping with the dishes.
Here's to 278/280 Walden -- I like the new digs.