Saturday, September 11, 2010

Do you trust me?

I am going to share something that will likely make a large percentage of you go "Ewwwwww", but if you like ANY kind of fish, including stick form, I'm certain you will LOVE this if you just give it a try (OK, not including canned tuna).

But first, a thank-you to God for a beautiful sight out my kitchen window this morning. While fetching my recipe binder (savory, not sweet) for this recipe (and ps, I don't use it when I make it I've done it so many times I go on auto-pilot), I glanced out the windows over my sink and saw our Mimosa (Japanese Silk) tree illuminated by a golden pool of sunlight. I love this tree, but got a bit more than I expected when we found it at Beaverton Farmer's Market years ago.

I grew up in a big old house in SW Portland, a house that was built around 1900 that had a scary basement, a huge yard that was awesome for playing hide and seek with the neighbor kids, and many kinds of trees, including a Japanese Silk. It was in the front corner of the yard, and it was my favorite - under 10' tall, a beautiful umbrella of bright green and silky fern-like leaves that would fold inward at night, and in the summer it would bloom with pretty pink tassel-like flowers - it was quite short, so it was easy to climb up into the fork of the trunk and pretend I was under my own giant umbrella. Loved that tree....

Speeding ahead to many years later, while dragging my better half once again through farmers market much to his distaste, I spotted what appeared to be a mimosa at a vendor who was selling fairly large potted trees out of his big farm truck. Amazingly it was only 15 bucks, so I snapped one up and proudly followed my pack mule out of market while he lugged the 5 gallon bucket with a tree coming out of it to take home to our already tree-filled yard. Once home, the debate began...where to put it? Hmm...this will require some thought.

5 years later, we moved. And with us went the now just a stick in a 5 gallon bucket of dirt. Yup, you guessed it - we never planted it, and each year it would lose a branch, become a bit more spindly, and never grew more than a couple inches taller all that time. But we were hopeful so we threw it in the moving van and brought it to our new home. Which was in the forest. With not a lot of sun. So after a couple more years (trust me, there were good reasons), we finally found the perfect spot and planted it in the middle of the ONLY sunny spot we have on our property. A stick, right in the middle of a big oval patch of dirt, looked very lonely. So I planted tea roses in an arc around it. It started to grow...and grow....and GROW. It is now roughly 20 feet tall, and has an umbrella that I could park at least 2 cars under for total's a friggin monster. But I still love it even tho I had to move the roses because they stopped growing with no sun, and I have to carve branches off the underside of it so it doesn't whack you in the face when you mow the "lawn". And it only took about 15 years, but a couple years ago it actually started to bloom....and I just read that it's considered a stage II invasive plant in Florida. Oops!

So finally to the point - here is my recipe (actually Rubio's) for fish tacos...REALLY, TRUST ME!

Rubio's Fish Tacos

Rubio's is a chain in the San Diego area - a lady I used to work with (and miss) said she used to live there, and when friends would come up to visit her, they had to bring her some Rubio's on the plane....that is true taco love!

1 lb. white fish, cod, pollack or whatever your fave is (I love tilapia) cut into small hand-sized fillets (or even half that width)

1 C. flour
1 tsp. garlic powder
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 C. beer (I'm a rebel and use Porter, but SOME think that's too "beery" - whiners)

1/2 C. mayonnaise
1/2 C. plain yogurt

Salsa: (it's really more like pico de gallo)
1 clove garlic, minced
6 ripe roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, minced
2 T. cilantro, minced
2 jalepeno's, seeded and minced
1-1/2 tsp. salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Juice of one lime

12 corn tortillas, as fresh as you can get 'em
1 small head green cabbage, thinly shredded
Lime wedges
Grated mexican cheese

Mix sauce ingredients until smooth, set aside. Mix salsa ingredients, also set aside. Heat large skillet with vegetable oil to 375 (not quite smoking hot). Whisk batter ingredients until smooth, dredge fish in flour (you can add a little salt) and shake off excess, then dip in batter and put in hot oil until crispy and brown. The fish will start to spit when it's done - it doesn't take more than a few minutes. Drain on paper towels and continue to cook fish until it's all done. Heat tortillas on a dry skillet or griddle, put cheese, piece of fish, white sauce, salsa and cabbage on it, squeeze a lime wedge on it if you really like lime and go to TOWN. I like to use an extension cord and put the griddle on the table, and have someone who is tolerant of interruptions man the tortilla station as we need 'em....or I suppose you could use one of those tortilla warmer thingies, but I think ours was styrofoam and something bad happened to it, and this is like Benihana's South.

Now for the good news...hate to mess with cooking fish? Someone brought fish taco fixin's to a potluck at work, and they used *gasp* FISHSTICKS. I decided to try it because the taco meat looked gross, and it was amazingly edible....and it put fish tacos further up on the list of "things I won't make more often that every millenium because they're a pain in the ass". You may also use store bought salsa (Walt hates fresh salsa because he's a giant baby about onions), and I have also seen it done with lettuce, but why bother if you're just going to screw it up? Go with the flow, and altho the sauce may seem odd, it makes the whole thing SING. "Under the Sea" if I'm not mistaken. You could also use broiled or grilled fish if you would rather look like an eel than a halibut, but it's fish.....c'mon.

We have also made it with flour tortillas and refried beans for a fish burrito- but I am more about the corn and less about beans on this...altho a nicely toasted flour tortilla is a thing of wonder that cries out to be violated with cheese for a inter-taco snack. OH...those giant bags of Ultimate fish sticks (GOOD fishsticks made w/fillets, not minced...unless that's the only kind you like, are you 8?) at Costco are to DIE for, and that bag will last for quite a few batches of tacos. I'm pretty sure I was Pancho Villa or Santa Ana in a past life...if I believed in that crap. Ole.

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