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Mucho Gusto

Lilly’s Blackened Fish Tacos

This is the fiftieth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

It is difficult not to derive a certain nostalgia from the last dish I made at home. Reminiscent of a fleeting moment, it whispers a reminder of summer’s finality. For me, it is a meal that is characterized not entirely by flavor, but by the company in the kitchen. A recipe rightly prepared in an organized symphony of the sizzling of fish and the mother-daughter banter over the adequate amount of sriracha. 

There is a distinct spirit of summer communicated through this dish. And so, I share this recipe with indescribable urgency as the influx of pumpkin spice begins to overwhelm the aisles of Trader Joe’s. It is in insistence to grasp the vanishing moment by your taste buds, to seize the peaches off of the shelves before it is too late. My recommendation is not to regard the calendar, but rather, to devour the last bite of August—even if it is already October.

Living on Cape Cod requires a tolerance for seafood. Ironically, I am a recent addition to the fish-eating crowd. What I’ve learned from each and every tourist-grab on the corner of this and that beach is the gravity of spices when it comes to preparation. Most of all, I can affirm—from personal experience—that wrapping seafood in a tortilla can persuade even the biggest fish skeptics.  

This fish taco recipe captures robust flavors in an impeccable pairing of textures. Blackened fish, peach salsa, and a drizzle of sriracha aioli compose an effortless unity of sweet, savory, and spicy that insists on your indulgence. 

Ingredients 

For Fish Tacos:

  • 1 1/2 lbs thick-cut fish (options include cod, halibut, mahi-mahi, or grouper)
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • Blackened seasoning (can be homemade or store-bought)
    • 3 teaspoons of smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon of cumin
    • 1 teaspoon of chili pepper
    • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon of adobo seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage 
  • 1 cup spinach leaves 
  • 1/4 cup scallion, chopped 
  • 1 cup small tomatoes, halved 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For Peach Salsa:

  • 1 ripe peach, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeño, finely minced
  • Salt to taste

For Sriracha Aioli:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 to 1 fresh squeezed lime
  • 2 tablespoons of sriracha

Instructions:

In order to serve the fish hot off the stove, I recommend preparing the toppings first. To make the salsa, combine the peach, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, olive oil, and lime juice in a bowl. Mix the ingredients well and season to taste with salt. Then, cover and chill the salsa until ready to serve. Mango can also function as a substitute for the peach; its sweetness will also add balance to the spice of the jalapeño and sriracha aioli.

Next, place the shredded red cabbage, spinach leaves, scallions, and cherry tomatoes into small serving bowls to be set aside for additional toppings. For the sriracha aioli, mix the mayonnaise, lime juice, and sriracha together in a small bowl. The mayonnaise mellows the heat of the sriracha, and the amount you use can be adjusted to your spice preference. The lime adds flavor while liquifying the consistency of the thick mayonnaise, allowing the aioli to be lightly drizzled onto your taco. 

Cut your choice of fish into large, finger-length chunks to allow for more spice coverage, faster cooking, and an easier fit for the tacos. I prefer grouper, but any thick-cut fish, such as cod, halibut, or mahi-mahi will work. Once cut, generously coat all sides of the fish with the blackened seasoning and set aside. The spice blend can be easily store-bought or quickly-prepared in the combination of paprika, onion powder, sea salt, garlic powder, black pepper, cumin, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, and adobo seasoning. 

 In a large skillet, preferably cast iron, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly swirl the olive oil to evenly coat the bottom of the skillet. As the olive oil starts to sizzle, place the fish in the skillet, and cook each piece for approximately 3 minutes per side or until the fish is completely cooked and significantly charred on the edges. 

While the fish is cooking, heat the tortillas in a non-stick skillet until warm and browning on the edges. Take the tortillas and fish off of the stove and place them on separate serving platters. Allow your guests to create the tacos to their liking, adding the peach salsa, fresh-cut produce, and spicy aioli as toppings and enjoy!

2 replies on “Lilly’s Blackened Fish Tacos”

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