I’ve always twisted my nose at seafood tacos, considering them an abnormality of the gastronomic world.  But,  life has its own way of teaching important lessons and during our stay in Los Angeles, we sampled some fish tacos that made me reconsider my opinions. What can I say? I loved them, as well as the particularly incredible array of tasty salsas that place has to offer.

Since we came back, I wanted to make some type of fish tacos at home, and this recipe that I adapted from Food and Wine magazine was a perfect starting point.
(adapted from Food and Wine)

2 tablespoons yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons sugar
1 pound skinless wild Alaskan salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 corn tortillas
1 Hass avocado, mashed with a squeeze of lime juice
salt and pepper
1 cup finelly shredded cabbage

for salsa:
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 English cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 ripe tomato, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 small red onion, finely diced (optional)
1 + 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 + ½  teaspoons sugar
salt to taste

Prepare the salsa by mixing in a bowl the apple, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, and onion (if using).  Add the vinegar and sugar, season with salt, and reserve.  It can be prepared hours in advance to intensify the flavors.

In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with the lime juice, season with salt and pepper and reserve. In another small bowl, combine the chipotle powder with the orange zest and sugar. Rub each piece of salmon with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and then with the chipotle–orange zest mixture. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Heat the tortillas either in a low oven, wrapped in foil, or on top of a flame (my method of choice), until they are softened and heated through.

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan. Season the salmon with salt and grill over high heat until nicely browned and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
Gently break each piece of salmon in half. Spread the mashed avocado on the warm tortillas and top with the salmon, Apple-Cucumber Salsa and the cabbage. Drizzle each taco with the lime yogurt and serve right away.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  This simple recipe is like a symphony of flavors – the salsa has it all: spicy, hot, sweet, the green apple is the key ingredient.  As to the cabbage, I’ve got a tip for you. If you love it in its raw state but the crunch factor seems a bit excessive,  put the shredded/julienned cabbage in a small bowl, add very hot or boiling water to cover, count to 5 seconds and quickly drain it, rinsing it with plenty of cold water.  This simple step softens it just enough, but won’t cook it. Perfect texture to top your tacos.

This type of meal is a favorite of ours: all the ingredients spread on the kitchen island, and we can enjoy them whichever way we like, very relaxed, very Summerish!
I sometimes go for a tortilla-less version, lighter but just as flavorful….

….but it’s nice to go for the full treatment with a bit of rice to round the meal

Whatever your preference, this meal is a winner!  If you are not sold on the idea of a fish taco, please, try this one, you will be very pleasantly surprised.

ONE YEAR AGO: Cinnamon-Turban Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Summertime Gratin

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Here’s a very popular dish from the restaurant “Terra” in Napa Valley, another recipe from the “Secrets of Success” by Michael Bauer.

If you are looking for a dish to impress your friends, your in-laws,  or that special someone having dinner at your place for the first time… this is it! The kind of food that gives a pause of satisfaction after the first bite,  a meal that you’d expect from a first-rate restaurant, but instead… you made it yourself! … And it wasn’t even hard!  An impressive concoction that you can definitely bring to the table on a weeknight after a hard day at work…  A “Celebrate Wednesday” kind of deal.  😉

Everything in this dish is balanced, a contrast of flavors and textures:  the subtle heat of the curry, the freshness of the salad, the silkiness of the sauce on the  crunchiness of the cabbage and peanuts, and luscious salmon as the centerpiece!  It’s a  symphony for your tastebuds. Try it, and I’m sure you’ll make it again.


(from Terra restaurant, recipe published in M. Bauer’s Secrets of Success)

(receita em portugues na segunda pagina)

for the curry sauce:
2 tsp peanut oil
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp  ginger, minced
1 tsp coriander seeds, cracked
1 1/2 tsp curry powder (I used mild curry, from Penzey’s spices)
1 1/2 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 1/2 tsp  paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
3 Tbs tomato puree
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1.5  Tbs  firmly packed brown sugar

for the cabbage salad:
2 cups very thinly sliced cabbage (red or green)
1/3 cup julienned cucumber
2 T fresh cilantro
2 T fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

4 pieces of Atlantic king salmon filet (6 oz each)
1 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

cooked white rice

Make the sauce… (you can make it the day before if you prefer)
Heat the oil and saute the garlic and ginger until it is just beginning to get golden. Remove the pan from the heat and add the coriander seeds, curry paste and powder, paprika, and ground cumin.  On low heat, saute for a couple of minutes.  Stir in the coconut milk, tomato puree, soy sauce, and brown sugar.  Increase the heat and bring it almost to boiling,  and then remove it from the heat.  Keep warm or gently reheat  if  it was refrigerated.  Sauces containing coconut milk should not be boiled, as they tend to separate.

Make the salad…
Mix the cabbage with all other ingredients in a large bowl.    Add the soy sauce and vinegar, toss well.  Reserve until serving. (I like to do it 30 minutes in advance, if possible).

Cook the salmon…
Brush the salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill to your liking, but salmon is best cooked medium, for a thick filet about 4-5 minutes per side on a hot grill. You can also cook it on the stove, making sure it is still translucent in the center.

Assemble the dish….
Place rice in the center of the plate. Ladle 1/2 cup of sauce around it, place the salmon on top or next to it. Top each fillet with a tall mound of the cabbage. Sprinkle the sauce with roasted peanuts.

Enjoy the compliments!

(to print the recipe, click here.)

Comments: Please don’t be put off by the number of ingredients. This is a very simple dish to prepare, and if you want to make it even easier, get the sauce ready the day before.  It’s a good idea to make more than called for, because it is wonderful.   Try it on seared sea scallops,  on grilled shrimp, or even pork tenderloin, they all go quite well with it.

I have made this dish with red, green, and also with  napa cabbage.   In general, I am very fond of  napa cabbage, but  this dish calls for a little more  crunch, and Napa doesn’t deliver the same snap.  Try them all yourself, and pick your own favorite.

If I ever make it to Terra, I’m definitely ordering this dish!

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