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Sunday, June 20, 2004

Is My Blog Burning #5 - Fish Tacos

(Link to the original "Catch of the day" post here.)

First, I need to apologize for Still No Pictures - I ordered a Canon digital camera and it's taking a very slow bus across the country to get to me.

I was introduced to fish tacos by my brother, who lives in Southern California, where Rubio's has a large presence and just about every other Mexican place nearby sells them. It is a dish which deserves to be more widely known and I was pleased to see a variant in the latest issue of Fine Cooking.

The traditional Ensenada- or San Felipe-style fish taco is quite different from the standard American Taco Bell hamburger-in-a-crispy-shell: batter-coated and deep-fried firm white fish chunks, finely shredded cabbage, salsa fresca (of the pico de gallo type), and Mexican crema (sour cream like, but more liquid) in one or two soft corn tortillas. I head over to the nearest Rubio's when I want one of those, because I don't deep-fry in my kitchen, but the principle is useful.

When I make fish tacos, I use bite-size chunks of firm white fish which has been marinated in the juice of several limes* for about half an hour. Keep one lime in reserve for garnish and cut it in wedges. I like swordfish, but swordfish is overfished, so I usually have halibut, which is widely available here on the Pacific coast. (Tuna is not a white fish but would probably be excellent.) Then I cook the fish on skewers on my grill (traditional) or in the oven until it is done.

Shredding the cabbage and salsa production (or warming to room temperature) is a good thing to do while the fish is cooking.

The tortillas should be heated up briefly in a dry cast-iron frying pan. For commercial corn tortillas it is safer to "double up" for each taco.

To assemble - pile the cooked fish and the cabbage into the tortilla(s), garnish with salsa and crema (you can thin down sour cream) to taste, and serve with a wedge of lime.

* If limes cost the earth at your regular grocery, try to find a Latin or Asian grocery for a better deal. "Key limes" work just fine if you have them, indeed I have been told that they are the usual lime in Mexico.

Apologies to the audience in parts of the world where you can't get corn tortillas regularly ... it's not quite the same with flour tortillas, so if you want a nice Mexican fish dish, a spicy-sauced shrimp cocktail with avocado or some nice piece of white fish prepared "a la Veracruz" (tomatoes, various peppers, olives, peppers, capers - check out web recipes for "Snapper Veracruz") served with rice and beans would probably be a lot easier to do.

Note on last night's dinner

The Chino beets turned out to be Chioggia (red-and-white striped), not golden, so I had the golden cherry tomatoes with the salad instead. Quite pretty on the oak leaf mini lettuce head. The corn was still fabulous a week after purchase. Yum.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Roll On Summer!

I haven't cooked much since I got back; combo of being tired and just being blissed out on a lot of glorious food.

The RFC party was fabulous, as they always are; I hope to catch up with the group and post my recipes this weekend. Am feeling a bit weak and crampy but I can sit and type.

Jamie didn't make ice cream but she did do lamb sirloin brochettes marinated in rosemary. Since I have an overactive rosemary bush, this sounds good! She also suggested lemon marmalade, and I need to ask her for her recipe, for my occasional lemon abundance. I told her that I was avoiding taking up knitting as my middle-aged-lady hobby and was going for "baking and preserving" instead.

And the amazing Koko brought enough food to feed three armies (in true RFC style), including the set up for Vietnamese summer rolls. I am going to try reproducing them next weekend; need to go look for ingredients for the sauce, make it up, and then shop for the rest on Friday night.

Tonight's dinner is going to be a burger (patty), lettuce with roasted beets (Chino) and tomatoes, and an ear of Chino corn. Peaches and ice cream if I feel like dessert. Yes, it is peach season, and I got some lovelies from my favorite grower (Blossom Bluff in Parlier) at the Tuesday F.M. No heirloom tomatoes in yet, though. I had one of the peaches with my morning yogurt and some blueberries and it was pretty good.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The kid is very observant

(this one is good enough for all the blogs)

My brother and his family recently moved into a nice brand-new house (they got to make the choices and everything). It was a long process looking for something they liked in an area they could afford, and lengthened by the construction process, but it's definitely worth the wait. I stayed with them when I was in the southland.

It has a nice open plan family room/eating area/kitchen in the back of the house. I was playing with my nephew and his Hot Wheels. He assigned me a car and it had been parked at my "house". Most of the other cars were parked at a restaurant at the "pier" (the cars are not allowed on the wood floor, so it's the ocean and the carpet is the land). Then he tells me it's seven AM and I have to get up and drive to the restaurant. "Why?" "You don't have a kitchen in your house." "No kitchen!?!" Without missing a beat, he says "It's a designer house."

After picking my jaw up from the floor, I said, "I guess you went to all those open houses with your mom and dad!". My sister-in-law, who was doing something in the kitchen and whose jaw also dropped, said, "Too many of them, it seems."

Well, I'm back

I found both the Chino farm and La Super-Rica without difficulty and they were all that and a bag of chips. I wish I had the camera with me at the farm; it was glorious to see the display. The French strawberries were exquisite. And the adobado at Super Rica rooled.

There are more food-related adventures, to be told when I catch up to myself.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

In other food related news

I know how to get to the famous Chino vegetable stand in San Diego County (an expedition on Friday) and the equally famous "La Super Rica" taqueria in Santa Barbara on my way home. And of course I am planning to pick up some tri-tip in SLO on my way outta town. And there will probably be homemade icecream among the wonders at the party. I figure I'm set.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Busy day in the kitchen

Kitchen output today:

1 loaf banana bread
1 loaf lemon-blueberry bread (an experiment)
5 dozen cookies (from fundraiser dough)
Cooked hamburger (ate one, two left)
Made raspberry ganache

The oven is preheating for the peanut butter cup cookies, round one. And it's hot.

I also picked cherries (it will be at least two cakes) and did a partial fridge purge. I pitched the remaining pie dough which I had been thinking of making into a galette; I will eat the peaches and berries with ice cream instead (poor me).

Saturday, June 05, 2004

June Swoon

In less than a week, I am getting in my car and driving to San Diego for a rec.food.cooking event. When I traveled more I was almost compulsive about planning; I have gotten very slack. I am not sure that my cherries will last down there for cherry upside-down cake, and I am not terribly confident with my improv abilities. I don't know if heirloom tomatoes are in yet (everything else seems to be about a month early) and I also don't want to haul a lot of equipment down.

I am going to make raspberry truffles and Mom's peanut butter cup cookies. I think Ranee's salad might also work (shop down there). I might also make the ginger mini cupcakes this weekend and freeze them if I like the results.

I also hope my digital camera arrives in time!

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Roasted Tomatoes

Ever since I mentioned the deli roasted tomatoes (as an alternative during Non Real Tomato Season) on the Ship's recipe thread, and someone asked "recipe?", I've been trying to recreate them. Especially since the deli stocks them only sporadically.

I ran a tomato-off with two contrasting recipes: 400 F for 30 min and 200 F for 8 hours (!). I liked the 8 hr version much better, although it was a bit drier than I'm used to with the deli version.

Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini recently had a bit on "tomates confites" on her blog; she cooked them at 200 F for 3 hours, which I thought meant would mean more roasted tomatoes if I liked them. She also put 1 teaspoon of sugar on them as well as salt, pepper, and oil before they roasted.

I tried this out except the tomatoes roasted for 6 hours, not 3 (I didn't like how they looked at 3 hours). Then I (as usual) put them in a container with olive oil and crushed garlic. Last night I couldn't stop eating them as the pasta boiled, so this one is a winner. The spoonful of sugar really brought the sweetness out.