Lately, we’ve been let down by our favorite Taquerias. They just aren’t doing it for us anymore. Prices have been raised and the waits can be long. Plus, I’ve been feeling like Burritos are overkill. I’m trying to be a bit healthier, so I really should be eating half a burrito. But who wants to eat the other half re-heated for lunch the next day? The hot/cold magic of a Burrito just doesn’t work re-heated.
In addition, Mrs. Flannestad’s commute has gotten longer, so we are now eating closer to 8 PM many nights of the week.
I’m not an Iron Chef, but I’ve been working on a few meals I can execute in the hour, hour and a half, between when I get home and she gets home.
The last couple disappointing Taqueria experiences led me to say to myself, I can do that in an hour.
Well, it’s not quite so easy, but not so bad, either.
Whatever you do, do not use canned Tomatillos or purchased tomatillo salsa. It is almost universally awful. Mexican citizens and immigrants have penetrated America to the extent that you can likely find most of these ingredients at your local mega-mart. If not, a trip to the ethnic grocery is always a nice way to spend the afternoon.
1 Pound Tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Serrano Chiles (or to taste)
1/4 onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon Minced Cilantro
Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Place Tomatillos, Garlic Cloves, and Chiles in a roasting pan or other oven proof non-reactive container. Cook until Tomatillos are soft and starting to split. Remove from oven and add Chiles, Garlic, onion, and one tomatillo to the bowl of a food processor. Process until well pureed. Add rest of tomatillos and pulse to blend. Remove to a container, salt to taste and stir in Cilantro.
I like traditional Pico de Gallo, but I also like to mix it up a bit by adding some beans. If I am opposed to buying Tomatillo Salsa, I am vehemently opposed to buying Pico de Gallo. It’s 5 minutes of work, and if it’s canned, it’s not Pico de Gallo.
Pico de Gallo, with Beans
1/4 White Onion, Small Dice
2 Serrano Chiles, Minced (Or as spicy as you like, really. The chiles I’ve been finding at the grocery store lately have been ridiculously, weirdly, mild.)
1 clove Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, Minced
1 Tomato, Small Dice
1 cup Cooked Beans, drained (Ranco Gordo Yellow Indian Woman above) or drain a can of small-ish beans
Splash Olive Oil
Splash Vinegar (or lime)
Combine, onion, garlic, chiles and cilantro. Add Tomato and Beans. Splash in Olive Oil and a little Vinegar (or citrus). Salt liberally. If using canned beans, you may need to salt in a way that is no longer fashionable in the US. Think FDR or Jimmy Carter.
1/3 of a pound skinned Fish Fillet per person (Rock Cod and Tilapia are our current favorites)
Olive or other cooking oil
For seasoned Flour Mixture, place in a resealable bag:
1/4 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Cornmean
1 TBSP Salt
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Paprika (Spanish Smoked Paprika even better!)
Chopped Avocado and sliced lettuce
Corn Tortillas, 2 per taco
Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Check Fillets for bones and remove if necessary. Pat dry with paper towels and salt generously. Drop into bag with seasoned flour mixture and shake, shake, shake. Remove fillets from bag, shaking off excess. The remaining flour can be refrigerated and reused if you aren’t too picky. Otherwise, make a smaller batch and discard. Heat a large enough pan on the stove to hold all your fillets and add oil. When oil is hot, gently add filets, good side down. Brown and flip. Remove from heat and place in oven to finish cooking. When they are cooked through remove. Using a spatula, break the fish fillets into serving size pieces, about 2 per 2/3 pound.
Heat the tortillas by steaming, on a griddle, or in the microwave.
Build the tacos:
Place two tortillas on a plate. Add a piece of fish and some lettuce. Spoon on pieces of Avocado. Top with Pico de Gallo and Tomatillo Salsa.
Re: Tilapia. I’ve been reading that the farmed version of same isn’t super healthy. It has good oil, but also bad oil because of the stuff they feed it. About on par with farmed catfish, I guess. Depending on the source, it also may or may not be farmed in a particularly happy way for the environment. But it is very tasty and pretty forgiving to cook with.