Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fish Tacos with Charred Corn, Radish and Kohlrabi Slaw

If there were a contest to decide the world's most perfect food, I am sure that tacos would be near if not at the top of the list.  They would certainly get my vote.  For me a taco is a blank canvas of corn or flour tortilla that invites creativity and experimentation.  There is a little taco shop near my house that has made its name with interesting fillings like pork with orange peel, chorizo and black bean, and even cactus!  Delicious as they are, they are small, so you need at least 4 for a meal and at $3-$4 each, I'd go broke pretty quick if I didn't make my own.  Tonight my thoughts turned from the local taco shop to the southwest and fish tacos!  The best fish tacos I've had have been on my trips to Southern California, but since six hour plane rides are not a good ingredient in any meal, I've had to make do with cooking them myself. The key to good fish tacos is (big surprise) the fish.  I've played around with this recipe for a couple years, trying different fish and seasonings before settling on what's shown here.  I use tilapia because of its mild flavor and that it stays in one piece and won't flake apart when cooked, cod works as well if you can't get tilapia, but may fall apart easier. For seasoning, I've tried it seems almost every possible spice combination, but ultimately settled on Old Bay seasoning.  Part of me felt a bit lazy doing this ("a real cook makes his own spice rub!") but in the end the folks at Old Bay know what they are doing when it comes to seafood seasoning.

The other toppings for the taco change every time I make it depending on what I have on hand, but there are typically three of them; a cheese, a vegetable and a sauce or salsa.  Tonight I dug in to the remnants of last week's share for the vegetable and pulled out some radishes and the kohlrabi bulb to make a simple light slaw. The two complimented each other nicely to give a cool crunch to the taco.  A charred ear of corn provided a bit of sweetness (and a fun popcorn smell) to balance the peppery radish.

Share contents used:

Charred Corn, Radish and Kohlrabi Slaw
One fresh ear of corn
1 cup julienned radish
1 cup julienned kohlrabi
Lime juice

I used a mandolin to julienne the radish and kohlrabi, but if you don't have one you can use a knife. Start by peeling the kohlrabi and then cut it in half.  Place the flat side on the cutting board and cut in into thin slices.  stack the slices and then cut again into matchsticks.  Slice the radishes the same way (no need to peel those).

Normally I would use the grill to char the corn, but I didn't feel like getting the grill set up and heated for just one ear (also its 90 degrees and humid out), so I turned to my gas stove.  After removing the corn from the husk, I placed it over the open flame, turning occasionally with tongs until it had nice char marks on all sides.  A word of caution on this technique, some kernels may pop and splatter you with hot corn juice, so an apron and/or potholder may be in order. Immediately after you've completed the char, wrap the corn in foil so the residual heat will cook the kernels all the way through.

When the corn is cool, cut it off the cob.  Toss the kernels together with the radish, kohlrabi and the juice of half a lime.  Season with salt to taste.

Fish Tacos
1 lb tilapia fillets (or other firm white fish)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbs Old Bay Seasoning
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Corn tortillas
Queso Fresco (or any soft, crumbling cheese)
Lime wedges
Mango sauce (see below)

About 15 minutes before you will eat, wrap the tortillas in foil and place in a 275 degree oven to warm.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and Old Bay.  Cut the fish into 1 inch cubes, then season with salt and pepper and toss with the flour mixture until lightly coated.  Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the coated fish and cook until the fish is cooked through and starting to brown, about 5-7 minutes.  

Assemble the tacos by spooning a few pieces of fish into a warm tortilla.  Top with some of the crumbled cheese, mango sauce and the corn, radish, kohlrabi slaw.  Serve with lime wedges and any other toppings that you enjoy (sour cream, tomato, etc.)

Mango Sauce
3/4 cup ripe mango, fine dice
1/4 cup cider vinegar
Juice of one lime
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
1 tsp Serrano chili pepper, minced
1 tsp Thai hot chili paste
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Let stand at least 30 minutes before serving for the flavors to meld.

No comments:

Post a Comment