My first mission in San Diego was to find fish tacos.
Night 1 was a late night of memories and lots of laughs, (the last thing I recall of night is all of us laughing hysterically at me saying “but I’m just a clam trying to be an oyster” after every story.) Seems food humor is way more amusing after a couple glasses of wine. But no tacos.
Being that I am a mom I tend to get up before my childless counter parts. Luckily I had a buddy who wakes up early too so he joined me on my mission for fish tacos. Let me tell you about this friend of mine. He's very private so I will call him Jim. Jim is exactly who he is at all times. A bearded rough spoken merchant marine. Jim is everything a metrosexual is not. He doesn't trim his beard or fuss over his hair and clothes. He says exactly what's on his mind and nothing is off limits. I love him for this trait. As we walked Jim expressed his beliefs on all the things he doesn't believe in - T.V., cell phones, food refrigeration (yeah you read that right the man cooks a pot of food and just reheats it when he is hungry), etc. After a couple blocks, I stop to read a menu and he declares he doesn't believe in restaurants. At this point, I stop him short and loudly announce “Well I don’t believe in Jims," he gives me a quizzical look and I continue “That's right I don’t believe in Jims. Your name is Bob now." We walk a little further all the while he had a small smile on his face. You see Jim is gruff and loud but he has a huge heart and a great sense of humor. Anyway...there it was - a taco truck totally committed to seafood Be still my heart. I order an array of tacos and mull over what sauces to add, getting ready to go to seafood heaven. I grab my first taco and take a bite and immediately the disappointment surrounds me like a thick fog. Jim notices my face and declares I am too judgemental of food and I am always noticing the negative. I explain to him it's only bad food that I have paid for that I'm critical of and this taco tastes like I just licked the bottom of a fry pot that hasn't changed its oiled changed since I learned how to be surly. To prove me wrong he picks up the taco and takes a bite. I see he is trying to keep a poker face but is failing with each chew. He puts the taco down and walks away mumbling under his breath “Damn it, that is one shitty taco." It was a small win but a win none the less. I will not be recreating that taco.
Y’all know I love spicy so, a spicy taco had to happen. It took me a few tries but I finally came up with a fish taco that satisfied my cravings. My fiancee gladly ate the rejects so no fish was wasted. A solid white flaky fish is what you need for this recipe. I used cod, I am sure a flounder, mahi mahi, etc, could be substituted. For me, the cod works really well and is friendly on the budget. Now let's talk about chili. I used chipotle chili powder. I wanted spicy and a smoky flavor so it fit my taste buds. If you feel like you need it milder, simply change to regular chili powder or ancho chili powder. You can also use a smaller or omit the jalapeño if you want a mild fish. Me, I say ‘the bigger the pepper the better (sounds kind of dirty when you say that aloud). I prefer my fish grilled but you can also bake it or cook them in a skillet.
There are multiple elements of this recipe. The creamy jalapeño sauce is addictive. You have been warned. This is that light green sauce you see in the squirt bottles at taquerias. I want to put it on everything now. Originally, I used just raw garlic in this recipe then the other night everything changed. I had one of those days where I showed 24 houses in a row, got caught in the worst part of town while starving but the traffic was so bad I couldn't even get over to get granola bar to tide me over. After I had used ever foul word and gesture to express my distaste for all the people in their oversized cars who for some reason get their thrills by not letting people in even though it's bumper to bumper traffic. What do they think I am doing? Trying to win a competition? If they let me in I am now superior? I mean I'm driving the 10-year-old Honda Pilot that only gets washed if it rains and in no way looks like it has been well-maintained. What exactly am I winning in this situation? Once I escaped this ninth circle of hell, I proceeded to get caught showing the next house in a torrential downpour in a dress and heels. Once I got home and peeled off my now see-through dress and dumped the water out of my shoes, I proceeded to put on the most comfortable p.j.’s I have. We all know that the rattier they are the more comfortable they become. Head to the kitchen to start cooking and then realized I was out of garlic except for some roasted I had left over. My choices were to change and load up all the kids to the store, not change and go to the store looking like a Medusa who had just pulled her clothes out of a garbage bin or use what was on hand. Considering my appearance could possibly scare away any all future clients (the option to humiliate my pre-teens was slightly appealing) I went with the latter. Yes, I could have done the first option but screw that - once the work clothes come off they stay off. Turned out it was divine intervention and now I will not make without roasted garlic. To make a long story not shorter you can use raw garlic and it will still taste wonderful.
As for the cabbage, it’s cabbage, oil, and lime so that I can actually keep short.
6 large jalapeños
1/4 large onion
3-4 roasted garlic cloves
1/2-3/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
In a small pot bring enough water to cover the chilis and onion to a boil. Simmer the jalapeños and onions for about 15-20 minutes, until they are fork tender. Once done strain the jalapeños and onions. Reserve some of the water just in case you need to thin the sauce later. Once cool enough remove stems from the jalapeños.
Using a Blender or food processor combine the oil, garlic, jalapenos,onion, and salt.
Blend until creamy. It should look frothy and pale green.
Transfer to a bowl or squeeze bottle to chill. It will be really spicy when warm and mellow as it cools.
Please note you can replace the jalapeños with other peppers or combine different peppers.You can go milder or hotter depending on your taste.
*This sauce can stay good for up to two weeks if kept in the fridge.
Limey Cabbage Slaw
1 small head of cabbage shredded(red or green)
2 Tbl vegetable oil
2 Tbl lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate till ready to use.
Spicy Fish Tacos
1 pound white flaky fish, such as cod or flounder
1/4 cup canola oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoons Chipotle chili powder
1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place fish in a medium-size dish. Whisk together the oil, lime juice, ancho, jalapeno, and cilantro and pour over the fish. Let marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the fish from the marinade place onto a hot grill, flesh side down. Grill the fish for 4 minutes on the first side and then flip for 30 seconds and remove. Let rest for 5 minutes then flake the fish with a fork.