tilapia tacos with fresh tomato salsa

It seems lately I’m ever so slightly bordering on obsessed with fish tacos.  I’ve pinned ump-teen recipes to my Pinterest board, I’ve bookmarked a bunch in my favorites bar, and I’ve cooked them…a lot…recently.  If there’s any kind of taco I’m happy to eat, it’s fish.  Don’t get me wrong.  It would be my worst nightmare to be served up a plate of Rubio’s fish tacos and ordered to eat!  First, it’s a chain restaurant and fast food, at that.  Second, while I understand it’s a popular place for fast (see above) fish tacos, crunch the numbers on the Original Fish Taco (2 taco plate) and you’ll devour 620 calories, 360 or which are from fat, 40 grams of fat, 50 mg of cholesterol, and 780 mg of sodium.  Which is why I make them myself.

Being able to control portion size and ingredients is a huge deal.  And, believe me, it doesn’t have to be breaded and deep-fried in artery-clogging oil to taste good.  This recipe is the perfect example of how a variety of spices and minimal oil can come together to create a mouth-watering meal without all the fat and calories that come standard at your local fast food taco joint.  This recipe went together really fast.  I made the rub ahead of time and refrigerated it for a couple of hours.  The recipe doesn’t say you need to do that, but I thought the fish had a truly developed flavor because it had been resting in the spices for a longer period of time.

The salsa was bright and lively, too.  I threw on some fresh cilantro from our garden just before serving, and gave an extra squeeze of lime juice, too.  Low-fat and delicious.  So much better than fast food.  Enjoy!

2014-02-25

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Tilapia Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa (recipe courtesy ActivewearUSA)

Taco Ingredients:

  • 4 tortillas
  • ½ pound tilapia fillets
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • ½ onion, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Salsa Ingredients:

  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine the paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Pour the herb and spice mix into a resealable plastic  bag.  Add the tilapia fillets and shake until the fish is completely covered.  Set aside to infuse with flavor.
  2. Pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil into a pan over medium heat and add the onion and corn.  Cook for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, or until the onion is soft and the corn begins to blacken.
  3. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Be careful not to scorch.
  4. Remove the tilapia fillets from the Ziploc bag and place them into the pan, using a spatula or spoon to divide the fish into bite-sized pieces as the fish cooks.  Place a lid on top of the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring half way through.
  5. While the fish is cooking, prepare the salsa by roughly chopping the tomatoes and onion into small pieces.  Add them to a bowl with the minced garlic, lime juice, and red wine vinegar, stirring until well combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. When the fish is solid white and flaky, warm the tortillas in the oven or microwave.
  7. Divide the tilapia, onion and corn mixture evenly between them. Top with fresh cilantro.  Serve immediately with salsa for topping.

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grilled cod with lemon, mint, and basil

If I’m going to be committed to tracking and sharing the recipes I thought were great…or, even good, a couple recent efforts left me with the niggling idea I should also track and share recipes I thought had potential…even if they didn’t live up to my expectations when I made them.  After all, cooking and photographing takes a bit of effort.  It’s time I sometimes don’t even have (ask my husband, who has sat patiently waiting to eat while I shoot one, last picture of the plated meal before the light gets bad).

In the current case, I didn’t shoot any prep shots because it was one of those days we were running behind and I just really needed to get dinner moving.  But I had time to plate and shoot.  Then came the eating and the point at which I thought, thank goodness I didn’t spend a bunch of time shooting the prep for this average recipe.

Because that’s what I thought it was:  average.  Not because I don’t like fish.  I do.  And, not because I don’t like lemon and basil and olive oil.  I do, I do, I do.  What I discovered upon eating this dish is how much I dislike mint.  Or, at the very least, how much I dislike mint in this quantity.

That’s where I started thinking I should share it with this caveat:   Too.  Much.  Dang.  Mint!   Three tablespoons of mint was simply overpowering.  Granted, cod is a relatively bland, yet buttery-textured fish.  It has great potential for any preparation, whether grilled, poached, or pan-seared.  And this recipe could have been great had it not been for the mint.

With that said, this is what I’d do differently next time:  leave out the mint entirely and substitute chives, for instance, or flip-flop the proportions by using three tablespoons of basil, which I adore, and only one tablespoon of mint.  Either way, the overwhelming taste and smell of mint needs to be eliminated.  Unless, of course, you love mint, which might find you preparing this fish exactly as the recipe suggests.  It’s a blank canvas.  Have at it and enjoy!

Grilled Cod with Lemon, Mint, and Basil (recipe courtesy Healthy 100 @ Florida Hospital)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 (4-oz.) cod fillets

Directions:

1. Preheat grill to medium.  In a small bowl whisk together oil, lemon juice, mint, basil and garlic, reserving half for sauce.  Brush one side of each fillet with lemon and herb mixture.

2. Place fillets on grill. Grill 4 minutes per side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Transfer fillets to a serving platter, drizzle with remaining lemon and herb sauce, and serve.

grilledcod©zouptonuts