Monday, December 14, 2009

Taco in Winter

Maybe it was frigid weather that just showed up in NY one day that made me crave a summery, Californian type food. Maybe it was the fact that both Catfish and Avocados were on sale at Whole Foods. There is even a slight chance that the 11 tablespoons of butter in the Pear Upside-Down Cake had me going to the gym every day last week that made this healthy recipe so very attractive. Whatever it was, a cold Tuesday night last week put me onto the task of Catfish Tacos.

I am not a huge fan of spiciness, so I have not extensivly experimented with Mexican food. Fish tacos are really a product of the American West Coast, influenced heavily by the hispanic community there. Being a hardcore East Coast girl, suspicious of anyone too blonde or who thinks a convertible is a good idea, this is not the type of cuisine I had growing up, nor have I been exposed to it much, so the entire idea of a "taco" is new in my kitchen. I believe my mother made "tacos" when I was young, which consisted of ground beef, a McCormick mix (cause who knows tacos better then the Irish), and some store bought shells. Not exactly authentic cuisine. I was embarking on new ground, but as I was very new at this and it was a weeknight, my sense of adventure carried only so far. I stuck with my mother on the idea of the store bought shell, and ignored the original recipes directions on dealing with corn tortillas. If you have your own favorite taco shell recipe or method, go with that. I went with "Open package, toast for 3 minutes, stuff." Sue me.

I subbed another type of pepper for the jalapeno when the store was out of them, something a little less spicy, and I kind of wish I hadn't. With the cooling properties of the fresh avocado and the tomato, it could have used a little more heat. Next time I'd try another store before subbing again. The original recipe calls for feta cheese, but I was on a Southern California path and didn't want to take a right turn at the Mediterranean, so I just used a Colby mix, more typical taco stuff. I leave it to your sensibilities of how you want your queso, and simply have it listed as "cheese" in the recipe

This is very lean and healthy food, the fish is broiled instead of fried and there are a lot of fresh vegetables involved. Mixing all the vegetables in a bowl, the color was vibrant and the smell of the lime juice was very vivid. The salsa adds a juiciness that makes up for the fact that no oil is used on the fish. This would be a great thing to eat next summer by the pool and be very impressive to your guests, but it's also a great January recipe, when all those cookies start to haunt you and your looking for something delicious to eat without feeling guilty. It also is a nice, colorful alternative to the roasts I tend to default to in the chilly months. In the end the results sated not only my hunger but my emotional need for a sunny meal, nourishing with its bright, juicy filing and its salty crunch. Will was a big fan, going back for seconds and thirds and grabbing napkins for the juice that would run out after a big satisfying bite. Now if someone could just get me a giant margarita, I might forget about that chilly wind outside altogether.

Catfish Tacos with Tomato and Avocado Salsa
Adapted from Bon Appetit


  • 1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped peeled avocado
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 3 teaspoons minced jalapeño chilies with seeds

  • 1 pound catfish fillets
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 4 taco shells

  • 2 cups thinly sliced curly leaf lettuce
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese


Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix tomatoes, avocado, 2 tablespoons lime juice, onion, and 2 teaspoons jalapeños in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Place fish in single layer on small rimmed baking sheet. Mix garlic, 3 tablespoons lime juice, and 1 teaspoon jalapeños in another small bowl. Drizzle half of lime juice mixture over fish; reserve remainder. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper; let stand 15 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Broil fish just until opaque in center, about 6 minutes. Cut fish into 1-inch pieces. Top each taco shell with 1/2 cup lettuce, then fish pieces. Drizzle with reserved lime juice mixture. Spoon salsa over; sprinkle with cheese.


Yasmeen said...

Sure is healthy to the core :D

geniuswaitress said...

Yay! I need skinny recipes this time of year. I'll probably sub whole wheat or corn (non-fried) tortillas. Thanks for the inspiration.

Kelly at Crock Tease

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