Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Halibut Tacos

Fish tacos.  Back when I was in college, I worked part time in a bank, and across the street was a Del Taco.  I remember once going to work and looking at the reader board at the Del Taco and seeing the words "Fish tacos", and was completely disgusted by the idea!  Of course, I was young and a bit narrow-minded back then, and to me, tacos meant one thing: ground beef seasoned with a taco seasoning packet in one of those hard shells that taste like cardboard.  I had only recently been introduced to the idea of soft chicken tacos and was still getting used to that concept, and fish tacos was just way too outside of the norm for me.  I never even tried fish tacos until about a year ago.  We were over at the Oregon coast and went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch, and they had halibut tacos on the menu.  I had to try them.  They were amazing- and I couldn't believe I'd waited so long to try them!

These tacos are light, delicious, and easy.  The marinade comes together in a snap, the fish fillets marinate for only 10 minutes, and they cook under the broiler in about 10 minutes.  I love halibut so that's what I used here, but you could use any mild, white fish.  Tilapia would probably be lovely.

Halibut Tacos
Serves about 4

2  halibut fillets, about 4 oz. each
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced finely
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped, divided
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/2 grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 scallions, sliced thinly
Salsa, homemade or store bought
1 package corn tortillas

1.  Preheat broiler on high heat.  For the marinade, combine lime juice, lime zest, half of the cilantro,  olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a large ziplock bag.  Add fish fillets.  Marinate 10 minutes.

2.  While fish is marinating, shred cheese, lettuce, chop cilantro, and slice scallions.

3. Place fish fillets on a wire rack over a foil-lined shallow pan.  Broil about 10 minutes or until cooked through.  Thicker cuts of fish may take longer.  If fish begins to brown on top, cover with foil and continue to cook until done.

4.  Wrap tortillas (2 per taco) in a tea towel.  Microwave about 40 seconds just before serving.

5. When fish is cooked, remove from rack to a wide, shallow bowl or plate.  Use a fork to break the fish into large chunks.

6.  To serve, place two tortillas stacked on top of each other onto each plate.  Spoon fish in the center of each, then top with salsa, cheese, lettuce, cilantro, and onions.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Broiled Salmon With Garlic and Herbs (Gremolata)

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we enjoy a very short season wherein Copper River salmon are available.  The Copper River in Alaska is nearly 300 miles in length, and the salmon that run there become strong and robust, unlike any other salmon on the market.  Their peak season is mid-May to mid-June, and the season is so short that you have to jump on it before it is gone.

I love salmon, but I don't love its price: on average, it costs $10 per pound.  Hard to justify, when I can get chicken for $2.49 per pound or less.  Still, salmon is a delicacy, and one with immense health benefits.  I refuse to buy farmed salmon anymore.  Just do the research on it, and you will see why.  So when the Copper River Salmon hits the local grocery stores, I take advantage of it.

This is a recipe I have made for many years.  I did not always like salmon, or even fish in general- in fact, growing up, I did not much like fish at all.  I never had fresh fish though- my exposure to fish in my younger years was limited to the frozen fish sticks that pervaded the American market in the 1980s.  As such, I was not left with a favorable impression.  As an adult, I had salmon in restuarants, and was immediately won over.  It is so easy to cook at home too, and very versatile- it is delicious steamed, broiiled, or sauteed.

This recipe utilizes a basic gremolata, which is a paste made from garlic, lemon, and herbs.  It is a flavorful addition not only to fish and meats, but to vegetables, sauces, and anything else that can support the strong garlic and herb flavors.  It is excellent with steak, or in salad dressing.  It is a perfect match for the bold flavor of the Copper River salmon.  Try making some ahead and using throughout the week- you can add instant flavor to any dish.

Broiled Salmon with Garlic and Herbs (Gremolata)

Serves: 2

2 salmon filets
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
1/2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp grill seasoning
1 tsp olive oil or more as needed

1.  Preheat broiler.  Combine garlic, herbs, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl to make gremolata.  Set aside.

2.  Pat salmon filets dry and place skin side down on wire rack on a baking sheet.

3.  Spread gremolata (garlic and herb mixture) onto salmon filets.

4.  When broiler is hot, put salmon into oven.  Broil 7 minutes.

5.  Place a sheet of foil over salmon and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.

6.  Test salmon for doneness.  If not done, continue to cook, covered with foil, in 4 minute increments, until done.

7.  Remove from oven and serve immediately.