Cumin & Cilantro Fish Tacos with Pommes Frites

Doesn’t that title sound fancy? This is actually one of the more simple meals we have made. Our good friends Chris and Laura came down from Rochester, New York last weekend for our annual winter visit. We have established a tradition that we see each other every year in the winter – not sure how that happened, because February and March is usually the best time in the northeast – right?

Also, because it’s not cold enough for us, we usually head north. Two years ago we went to Quebec City, where we experienced freezing rain the entire time; last year we went to Montreal, where the temperature was consistently 3 F. I guess we like to challenge ourselves – no matter what we do, however, we always have the best time (as an example of how weird the weather has been this year, when we went to visit them in Rochester in October, we actually went swimming in Lake Ontario – in October!). This year, we simplified things with a visit to Portland, where the weekend turned out to be beautiful.

Morse Mountain, Phippsburg, Maine

It is also a tradition for us that we have a warm meal (and plenty of wine) prepared for the arrivals (it is after all, a 9 hour drive from Rochester to Portland!). We didn’t want to make anything heavy, like lasagna, or something that was too complicated – we wanted to enjoy each other’s company, not spend the whole time cooking. Then it came to me – fish tacos! I don’t know if I had summer on my mind, or dreams of southern California, but it was the perfect solution – they are easy to make and great for eating with a group of friends, as everyone participate in making their meal. And homemade french fries were the perfect accompaniment to the tacos.

Pommes Frites
(entirely from Smitten Kitchen)

Smitten Kitchen has once again taught me a valuable cooking lesson. When I made french fries or potato crisps in the past, I would simply slice potatoes, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake in the oven. What I ended up with was hit or miss – some pieces were golden brown perfection, while others were undercooked or burnt. But as I learned from this recipe, the key is boiling first. It really works – every piece came out perfectly.

  • 3-4 russet potaotes
  • olive oil
  • salt pepper

Thinly slice potatoes (I keep the skins on) and place in a cold, salted pot of water. Bring to a gently boil and cook until almost done. Drain the water and place potatoes on a baking tray. Bake until golden brown (in our oven, it took about 40 minutes).

THE SAUCE

While the fries are baking, make the sauce for the tacos next, so the flavors have some time to meld. I tend to like things spicy, so adjust the hot sauce to your liking.

  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 or 2 squeezes of lime
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • hot sauce
  • salt
  • pepper

Mix all ingredients and adjust to taste. Cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

Fish Tacos

  • White corn tortillas (small)
  • 1-2 pounds white fish (we used hake – it was on sale at the Harbor Fish Market at the time, but it’s normal retail price is affordable and worked really well for this dish)
  • 3 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2-3 eggs, beaten
  • Assorted vegetables for your toppings: we used avocado, red cabbage, green and red bell pepper and lots of cilantro

Cut and prep all your toppings so they are ready to go once the fish is done.

Mix the panko bread crumbs, cornmeal, chili powder and salt and pepper. Cut the fish into bite size pieces and dip each piece in the egg mixture, then the panko bread crumbs. Fry the pieces on medium heat in a cast iron pan until both sides are crispy brown and the fish is cooked all the way through. You may  have to do this in two rounds – keep the first batch in the oven on warm.

Set up all the toppings buffet style and put out the fish. Warm up the tortillas in the cast iron and hand out to your guests and let them assemble – enjoy!

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