Sep 21, 2010

fresh fish tacos, revisited

okay, these tacos are fantastic and easy and delicious and healthful. they are also completely inspired by the tuna tacos we ate with great frequency at faith's seafood shack on martha's vineyard this summer. they are so good and so easy, it should be some kind of crime. i feel a little felonious every time i eat these, like i am getting away with something slightly illegal. great food should be more trouble than this, right? a disparaging amount of sweat and toil are supposed to be required to achieve such fantastic results. well, that's what i'd always thought, until these marvelous tacos came into my life.

miraculously, the recipe can be altered to serve anywhere from 1 to 50 people pretty easily. a great meal to indulge in by yourself, or with your husband while your children are otherwise occupied for dinner at any number of sports, parties, dances, sleepovers etc. the kids love them as much as we do, but why waste such great food on them? (mostly kidding, of course) my children are completely pampered and indulged, they are also hard-working students and emerging foodies who adore and insist on great food, and are charming in every way. and yet, parents deserve some perks. so go ahead, indulge yourself. this recipe is completely adaptable, add avocados as i've done here, queso fresco or any number of other elements, it is entirely up to you.

one more great aspect of these tacos is no fried fish, (as is often the case in my favorite fish tacos in hawaii and southern california). here, the fish is sauteed or grilled, with no loss in complexity or flavor. which means, no fried food guilt and no messy fish frying, this really puts them over the top in my book.

fresh tuna* tacos with lime cilantro creme fraiche
serves 4
1lb tuna steak, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, washed and dried, stems removed
3 TBSP olive oil
juice of 1 lime
pinch of cumin
stir to coat the fish
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
8 soft tortillas, only 8 if they are thick, (16 if they are thin and you need to double up)

lime cilantro creme fraiche
1 cup creme fraiche or kefir cheese or sour cream
juice of one lime
pinch of cumin (adjust to taste)
pinch of chile powder
1 TBSP minced cilantro

1 sliced avocado
1/2 cup fresh sweet corn, off the cob
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco

first, marinate the fish in lime a little lime juice, salt, cilantro and chile powder or cumin and olive oil in a non reactive glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl. just for a few minutes while you get everything else ready. second, slice your cabbage ultra fine. use a mandoline if you like. i like to do it by hand, its a zen thing. anyone can do it, but you need the right frame of mind to concentrate on it to shave it super thin. you also need a super sharp knife that has a nice wide blade, one you are comfortable using. great knife skills practice. next, mix the creme fraiche with the lime juice, and cumin, chile powder and minced cilantro. place this in a small serving bowl. then slice and avocado or crumble the queso fresco, if using.

now set to work on warming the tortillas. to save time, i often wrap them in foil and place in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes. but to get a better result i heat them individually in small pan on the stove, heating them on high until they puff up a bit, then turning. this is a great job for a kitchen helper while you are busy with the fish. keep them warm by covering with a clean dry kitchen towel as you heat the rest, it really works.

now, when everything else is ready and the tortillas are halfway there. heat a medium teflon skillet on high and sear the tuna on two sides, this only takes 2 to 3 minutes at most. they brown up beautifully very quickly. they might be a little pink inside, that is what we want. don't overcook or the tuna loses a great deal of its charm. bring everything to the table and ready, set, assemble. just the way you like it. serve with some fresh sweet corn or some beans and rice on the side.

*always try to find sustainable fish sources. there are limited options for sustainable fresh tuna steaks, but they do exist, and as farming tuna becomes possible through advances in technique, we may not have to give up this delicious fish after all. i buy my tuna only from whole foods at this point. swordfish would also work well in this dish.

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