Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blackened or Fried...You Decide!


My husband and I got married on the beach in South Padre Island.  It was a simple service with our close family.  We went a week ahead, and we rented a beautiful house with a pool for us all to stay in.  We did everything, parasailing, deep-sea fishing, went to the beach, rode jet skis in the ocean, snorkeled (yes, I know the water isn't very clear there, but it was still fun).  We laughed and talked and enjoyed the week and capped it off with a wedding.  It was amazing.

One of the things I took back from that week (among a gazillion memories) was beach food.  We found a dive restaurant called Steamers with open-air ambience that had great fish tacos.  I fell in love with fish tacos then.  I loved the fried fish, while my husband preferred the blackened.  It came on corn tortillas with coleslaw and it was fabulous.  We ate there twice that week!  You can even bring in fish you catch, and they will cook it for you.  They are also pretty famous for their ginormous trays of raw oysters, although I haven't acquired the taste for them yet.  But all the people around us were eating them and seemed really happy about it.

Now, I have a sidenote about the blackening process and a funny story about making homemade pepper gas.  (Yes, I did.)  Once I was cooking brats in beer in a skillet.  I decided I wanted to throw a little red chili flake into the skillet to add a little heat.  If you don't know the process of cooking brats in beer, it goes like this.  You put the brats in a skillet and pour in a beer.  Then you cover the skillet with a lid and let the beer cook out.  When the beer cooks out, you remove the lid and brown the sausages.  Little did I know that chili flakes in an almost dry skillet really does create pepper gas!  I started coughing violently.  My husband, who was in the living room, started coughing violently.  My son, who was in his bedroom, started coughing violently.  We all ran out the back door trying to breathe!  It was crazy.  We had to leave the back door open (something the dogs really love, free pass in and out) until the gas dissipated.  We all got a great laugh out of it afterwards.  Don't try this at home.

Since our wedding week, I've ordered fish tacos at many restaurants, and I've even perfected a recipe of my own that my family really enjoys and asks for a little too often.  I've included pickled red onions to it because it adds an unexpected kick of flavor that really complements the rest of the taco.  And, of course, since my husband is such a great man, I made the tacos two ways so he could have his favorite too.  So we are kind of like Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean (Aesop's Fables...great stories). 

So, from one of my favorite memories of a beautiful wedding week, here are my Fish Tacos (blackened or fried) with Spicy Coleslaw and Quick Pickled Red Onions.


FISH TACOS (BLACKENED OR FRIED) WITH SPICY COLESLAW AND PICKLED RED ONIONS
2 lbs of your favorite white fish (I've used Swai and Whiting)
1 package of corn tortillas
Quick Pickled Red Onions (recipe to follow)
Spicy Coleslaw (recipe to follow)

FOR FRIED FISH:
2 C flour
4 T cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 eggs
1 bottle of beer, like Corona
Seasoned salt (like Lawry's), to taste
1 T smoked paprika (it's yummy!)
1 T garlic powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
Peanut oil for frying

FOR BLACKENED FISH:
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red chile flake
1 stick of butter

For the fried fish, combine all ingredients except the oil and the fish in a bowl.  Cut the fish into smaller strips, kind of like chicken fingers.  Heat the peanut oil up in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Dip half of the fish in the batter and fry until golden brown and crispy.  Keep the fish warm in a 200 degree oven until all fish is cooked.

For the blackened, mix all the spices and seasonings in a bowl.  Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Turn on your fan!  Dredge the other half of the fish in the blackening spice and cook in the butter about 3 minutes on each side or until the fish is opaque (if you can see it under the blackening spice) and firm to the touch.  Keep warm in a 200 degree oven until they're all done.

To serve these tacos, wrap tortillas in a damp towel and microwave about a minute.  Fill with the fish of your choice, coleslaw, and pickled onions. 

QUICK PICKLED RED ONIONS
1 red onion, sliced
2 C red wine vinegar
2 T sugar
1 T mustard seed
1 teaspoon red chili flake (optional)

Put the onions in a bowl.  Bring all ingredients except onions to a boil.  Pour over the onions and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.  Great for tacos, sandwiches, salads, you name it.

SPICY COLESLAW
1 14-ounce bag of shredded coleslaw mix (not the one with the dressing included)
1 C mayonnaise
1/4 to 1/2 C vinegar (depends how sour you like it)
2 1/2 to 3 T sugar (depends how sweet you like it)
1 to 3 teaspoons red chile flake (depends how hot you like it)

Mix the mayo, vinegar, sugar and chile flake with a whisk.  Mix the slaw mix into the dressing mix.  Let sit in the refrigerator at least an hour before serving.

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