Fish Tacos

“I hate tacos”…Said no one ever.  Whether it is Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday, this meal is guaranteed to please any sized crowd. Channelling Southern California, one of my favourite destinations, rather than actual Mexico, a destination I have yet to visit, this meal is colourful, fun, fresh, delicious and infinitely variable. The ultimate sharing food, tacos hold the pride of place as first choice family meal at our house. I put this down to the condiments and sides. But for one or two of my more simple eaters, this meal is heaven: it allows them to take charge of their own plate, eat with their hands and it’s a free ticket to make a huge mess.

fish tacos

salsa and guacamole ingredients ready to go  photo: Jeremy Coleman

So it only seemed right to teach this as my first class of 2017 last week. I am not claiming these are traditional or authentic tacos by any stretch.  There is also no frying or long laborious prep. I like to make these for a larger group using whole loins of cod but you can use  halibut or snapper fillets just as well.. Using whole sides of fish retains the heat when serving to several hungry mouths, and is much less likely to dry out while cooking. For a smaller crowd, I sometimes use fillets which I can pan fry, and in the summer I grill the fish outside for added smokey sunshine flavour.

fish tacos

guacamole ready to be mushed photo: Jeremy Coleman

fish tacos

picked red onions photo: Jeremy Coleman

The herb, lime and chilli seasoning on these fish tacos is fresh and simple, and the spice can be altered to suit any level of heat. I marinate the fish in the morning and pop in the oven or on the grill just before we are ready to eat. The task of mushing the avocados for the guacamole can be handed out to anyone old enough to hold a bowl and a wooden spoon, and the salsa can either be made a little earlier in the day and refrigerated, or quickly assembled while the fish cooks. Whatever you do, don’t skip the slaw. It takes no time to throw together, and the cool crunch of the veg is the perfect contrast to the soft and melting fillings.

fish tacos

marinating fish photo: Jeremy Coleman

A note on tortillas: when it comes to tacos, the only debate in our house is corn vs. flour tortilla so I always have both on hand. Corn tortillas hold the authentic card, but are thicker, less pliable, and can definitely resemble cardboard if left to cool too long. I however love them over-toasted and crumbled on a plate full of taco ingredients for the less bona fide and less messy way to shovel all the flavours into my mouth at once. Flour tortillas, although high on the stodge rating, are easier to warm for a crowd, stay soft for longer, and are stuffable to the brim. I won’t suggest you make your own as tortillas are on my list of foods that are always best left to the experts, along with sushi, macaroons and ramen.

Whatever choices you make about the tortilla or fillings, don’t forget the jug of margaritas.

fish tacos

Margarita’s photo: Jeremy Coleman

 

Fish Tacos

I serve these with Cabbage Slaw (below), a good tomato salsa, guacamole and pickled onions, black beans and wrapped in a tortilla. I always like to have a little extra hot soured cream on the side to dollop on top. If you want to avoid dairy, the slaw is also great simply dressed with lime juice, olive oil and salt.

serves 4-6

1kg cod loin or fillets or any firm white fish fillets i.e.. halibut or snapper

salt and pepper

1 tsp powdered mild red chile

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tsp chopped oregano

1 tsp chopped mint

1 tsp chopped coriander

1 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1/2 lime

Place the fish fillet onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over chile powder, garlic, fresh herbs, olive oil and lime.

Rub all the seasonings into the fish, cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. (If you are short of time, you can just leave it to marinade on the worktop for 30-60 minutes while the fish comes to room temperature.)

Remove the fish from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Heat oven to 220C or if you are cooking fillets, you can broil them (or in the summer I always grill them).

Roast cod loin for 15-20 minutes until just opaque. If you are cooking fillets, cook for 3-4 minutes each side depending on their thickness.

I serve this straight out of the baking sheet, but feel free to transfer to a serving dish. Either way, surround with coriander sprigs and lime wedges.

Flake off sections of sections of fish to fill tortillas accompanied with all the sides.

 

Cabbage Slaw

1/2 small green cabbage

1/4 small red cabbage

2 fennel bulbs

1 bunch radish (approx 10)

juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp olive oil

good pinch of salt

2-3 tbsp hot soured cream (recipe below)

1 tbsp chopped chives]

Cut the green cabbages and fennel in half length-s wise and slice either on a mandoline, with a sharp knife or with the slicing blade on a magimix. Thinly slice or grate the radish.

Put all the sliced vegetables in a bowl, slicing the red cabbage last and leaving it on top so that it does not bleed into the other ingredients.

Leave covered until ready to dress, 10-15 minutes before serving (I usually dress the slaw when I put the fish in the oven or on the grill).

Squeeze lime juice over the slaw, drizzle with olive oil and add a good punch of salt. Sprinkle over chopped chives. Dollop 2 tablespoons of the hot soured cream onto the vegetables and mix thoroughly with your hands until it is all incorporated. Taste for seasoning and if you want add some more salt, lime juice, hot soured cream or all of the above.

Serve on top of cooked fish wrapped in a warm tortilla with guacamole, salsa and an extra spoonful of hot soured cream.

Hot Soured Cream

200g soured cream

2 chipotle chiles in adobo or 2 tsp soaked and pureed ancho chillies or 2 tsp hot sauce of your choice

Blend soured cream and chillies together. Pour into a bowl and serve on the side of the fish tacos and use in the cabbage slaw.

fish tacos

goodie bags for the class photo: Jeremy Coleman

BF Bites – January Roundup

Seasonal Bounty – Rhubarb, Blood Oranges and Artichokes

BF Bites January roundup 1.17

We may be in the bleak mid winter, but that does not leave us short of mouth watering seasonal produce.  While everyone was sulking in short dark days, I was roasting rhubarbbaking and braising artichokes to my hearts content and eating blood oranges galore.  My motto?  Eat your way through January blues.

 

Cookbook of the month – Dinner at the Long Table

BF Bites January roundup 1.17

This month’s book choice is the first from Andrew Tarlow and Anna Dunn, the dynamic duo behind their ever increasing number of Brooklyn restaurants including Diner, Marlow & Sons and the Wyeth Hotel.  This book’s appeal is its collection of celebratory menus from birthdays to a change of season, none of them fussy, all of them with the aim of bringing friends and family around a table together.  A concept I adore.  All round winner.

 

Kitchen Essential – Le Creuset 30cm Sautee Pan

BF Bites January roundup 1.17

This is my kitchen pot essential.  It is my most loved pan in the house as it can be used both on the hob and in the oven, and is good looking enough to serve food straight out at the table. I use it for everything from blanching vegetables, to cooking grains, to shakshuka, to searing and cooking meat and fish and even for crumble.  The base doubles as a roasting tin  If you don’t have one already, I think you need one.

 

Winter Skin Saviour – Dr Jacksons Face Oil

BF Bites January roundup 1.17

photo credit DrJacksons

I am a delicate soul, and so is my skin.  I am also a huge fan of natural products, and this is literally my winter skin miracle cure, dousing it on everything from my face to my psoriasis patches and if I could I would drink it too. The icing on the cake?  The packaging of my dreams – minimal, sleek and perfectly designed, it not only feels good on the skin, it looks great on the shelf.  Shallow but true.

 

Stationary Love – Bovary & Co.

photo credit Bovary & Co

Abi and I met a few years ago through Emma Parlons, and I was taken with her brilliantly whity illustrations and cards.  So when it came to designing invitations for my oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah next month there was no doubt where to go.  But even if you have no event to organise, check out her collection of cards.  They are brilliant.  I am so sending this one to my next new parent.

Sarah Kieffer’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sarah Kieffer's Chococlate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are the ultimate wonder food.  Equally delicious consumed in any form: raw, cooked, overcooked-and-crispy, frozen-and-raw (thanks Ben and Jerry’s), cooked-and-frozen (ice cream sandwiches), underbaked-and-melty, or simply piping hot straight out of the oven.  As such, they have a unique ability to immediately satiate any mood.

Sarah Kieffer's Chococlate Chip Cookies

There is always a secret stash of chocolate chip cookies in some from in my kitchen. They are a pre-requisite for packed lunches, emergency gifts, and frozen for unexpected visitors.  I usually make a batch of dough, scoop the balls with my trusty ice cream scoop and lay them all out on a tray in the freezer until set.  I pop the frozen dough balls into a ziplock ready to cook as many as I need at a time, with no need to defrost first. It is a great comfort knowing that I can serve fresh cookies at a moments notice and avoid the temptation of late night leftovers or weeknight midnight feasts.

Sarah Kieffer's Chococlate Chip Cookies

While I do not profess to have a preferred chocolate chip cookie recipe, I have an ever increasing collection on rotation.  My current favourite is from Sarah Kiefer’s The Vanilla Bean Baking Book.  Despite tinkering with the recipe a number of times, there was absolutely nothing I could do to improve Sarah’s method.  These are not your quintessential cakey cookies.  These are flat, with a crispy outer ring and soft centres, produced by the ingenious “tray tapping” cooking technique —which under no circumstances should be skipped.

Sarah Kieffer's Chococlate Chip Cookies

I should also add here, that like Sarah,  I favour an irregularly chopped bar of good chocolate over chocolate chips, for a surprise chunk in every bite.  And in this particular recipe I would not consider adding nuts – pure is best.

I only made one change – their size.  Sarah’s must be enormous.  Mine are still pretty large, but I scoop them with a large European sized ice cream scoop, rather than Sarah’s 1/3 cup (100g) suggestion, and slightly reduce the cooking time.  I also like to sprinkle the top with salt (but that is because I am a salt fiend).  Trust me, there is no need to mess around with anything else, just follow the instructions and enjoy the cookies.

Sarah Kieffer's Chococlate Chip Cookies

Sarah Keiffer’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
very slightly adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book
Makes 14-16 cookies

285g (2 cups) plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt (plus more for the top of the cookies)
225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
300g (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
50g (1/4 cup) packed soft brown sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp water
170g (6oz) dark chocolate chopped into irregular bite size pieces

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).
Line two extra large or three regular baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl whisk the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the egg, vanilla and water and mix on low to combine, scraping down the bowl to make sure it is all fully incorporated.
Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.  Add chopped chocolate and mix on low into the batter.
Using a large ice cream scoop (or a 1/4 cup measure) form the dough into balls and place next to each other onto one of your prepared pans.
Cover with cling film and place in the freezer for 15 minutes (or at this stage you can freezer the dough balls completely, transfer into a ziplock bag and keep for as and when you need them).
When you are ready to cook, arrange the cookie balls well spaced apart on the baking sheets (they will spread considerably) and bake for 8 minutes until the cookies are puffed slightly in the centre.
Pick up the baking sheets and let them drop onto the oven rack to set the edges of the cookies and the centre deflates (trust Sarah – it feels wrong but works).
Repeat this lifting and dropping of the cookie sheets every two minutes three more times (baking 14-16 minutes total) to create the ridges and the crisp edge but with pale and not fully cooked centres.
Allow the cookies to cool completely on the racks before removing from the tray.

Note:  If you skip the freezing stage the cookies will spread too much and not keep their shape.

Sarah Kieffer's Chococlate Chip Cookies