This past weekend, I was struck by an irresistible craving for grilled fish tacos. So I did what any girl would do - hop on a bus to Jersey one day early for Mother's Day, commandeer my future in-laws' kitchen, and impose my craving upon the whole family.
I had some people to persuade. Future mom-in-law Jill was amusedly skeptical about the whole concept, and I started to realize while we were in the supermarket that I was filling our cart with ingredients she would never voluntarily eat. Fish? A touchy subject, as it seems contingent on the type of fish (white only), the place (the fancier restaurants tend to get the fish just right), and her mood. Cilantro? She has always picked out the leaves and stems, leaving little piles of green on her plate. Poblano peppers? It took me a while to even get her past the fear of "burning" black pepper.
After her third enunciation of the phrase "fish TACOS," I started to get the idea that maybe, just maybe, she was a little bit nervous. At the checkout line, I prodded and pushed, finally extracting the admission that she had "never heard of tacos being filled with fish!"
Sometimes I forget, as I think all food-lovers do, that the meals I consider normal, commonplace, and maybe even a bit boring are exotic, new, and challenging to others. As the torch-bearer for fish tacos, I felt pressure to make these particular tacos especially gorgeous to look at and delicious to eat. The challenge breathed new life into a meal I might otherwise whip up as a weeknight meal, and it made the thrill of a successful dinner taste even sweeter.
P.S. She loved it.
grilled fish tacos adapted from Epicurious
1 cup chopped white onion
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided (3 for marinade, 2 for red cabbage)
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 pound tilapia, striped bass, or sturgeon fillets (I used cod and it was perfect)
Coarse kosher salt
red cabbage slaw
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon milk
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, sliced
1/2 small head of cabbage, cored, thinly sliced
Stir 1 cup onion, 1/4 cup cilantro, oil, 3 tablespoons lime juice, orange juice, garlic, paprika, cumin, and oregano in medium bowl. Sprinkle fish with coarse salt and pepper. Spread half of onion mixture over bottom of a glass baking dish. Arrange fish atop onion mixture. Spoon remaining onion mixture over fish. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Turn fish; cover and chill 30 minutes longer.
Whisk Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, milk, and remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice in large bowl. Cut the red cabbage into shreds and toss with the yogurt mixture.
Brush grill grate with oil; prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill fish with some marinade still clinging until just opaque in center, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Grill tortillas until slightly charred, about 10 seconds per side.
Coarsely chop fish; place on platter. Serve with the red cabbage slaw, tortillas, remaining 1/2 cup cilantro, avocados, and lime wedges. Feel free to modify the recipe to reflect your favorite Mexican condiments.