A couple of weeks ago, Wichita endured some ice storms, but I escaped it and flew down to Cabo for the yearly retreat. I made it my personal goal for the week to eat only seafood. It was a horribly tough job, but who wants chicken or beef when you’re staring at the ocean?
You see, Cabo has a super special place in my heart because it was there that Randy said he wanted to marry me. It wasn’t our proposal spot but where the decision was made. Plus, we honeymooned there and have been a dozen times together. It’s our home away from home.
All the fresh flavors I had there all week had me thinking: Why don’t we all eat tacos daily? I mean, there’s not a happier food, is there? You get to eat it with your hands, pile delicious salsas and sauces on top, and you get chips alongside. Your day is made when there’s tacos and chips.
Speaking of chips: Yes, I’m the weirdo that has to pack bags of chips for vacation and for dining. My two favorite brands of gluten-free and corn-free tortilla-style chips are Siete brand made from cassava flour, coconut flour and chia seed and The Real Coconut chips, which come in a pretty pink bag. If you’re a thin chip lover, go for the Siete brand. If you prefer a heartier chip – more authentic Mexican-style – go for The Real Coconut. I buy both because they’re equally delicious in different ways. And the Siete Coconut and Chia tortillas are incredibly delicious, too. When warmed, they taste like a fresh flour tortilla.
In an effort to extend the vacay, I made three different salsas yesterday. We invited a couple of friends for an Oscar-viewing party. We poured Palomas to sip and pretended we were all in Mexico together. I’ve shared the Paloma recipe before, but in case you didn’t save it, it’s included this week, too. Also note that this beer batter is delicious on shrimp, too.
I’d say the best parts of vacation are threefold: getting away from daily stressors, soaking up the sun and surf and also the renewed energy you have when you come home. Vacation puts life into perspective, expands your culinary and cultural horizons and leaves you feeling refreshed. Whether you have a Mexican vacation in your plans or not, I suggest taking a “trip” with a batch of these fish tacos, and while you’re at it, pour yourself a Paloma, too.
Beer Battered Fish Tacos with Pineapple Habanero Salsa
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup Mexican beer
Pineapple Habanero Salsa:
1 ½ cups fresh pineapple, finely diced
½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
½ to 1 orange habanero chile* stemmed, deseeded and finely chopped
½ cup red onion, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon kosher salt
*Use disposable food handling gloves when handling habaneros – the oil in habanero peppers can burn the skin.
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning after frying
1 pound skinned cod cut into strips
6 – 8 corn tortillas, heated on a griddle or in a skillet
1 – 2 cups chopped cabbage or coleslaw mix
If you don’t have a fryer, heat cooking oil in a deep pan until it’s 350 degrees on a thermometer or until a wooden spoon sizzles when inserted.
Mix flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. While whisking, slowly add the beer so the batter doesn’t clump. Whisk until the clumps are gone and let the batter sit for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the Pineapple Habanero Salsa by mixing pineapple, cilantro, habanero, onion, lime juice and salt. Sit at room temperature so juices can mix.
Mix flour and salt on a plate. Season fish with salt and coat each piece with flour before dipping in the batter. Fry in small batches until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer fish pieces to a paper towel-lined plate and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Assemble tacos with warm tortillas, fish, cabbage, salsa and avocado slices.
2 -3 ounces white tequila
Fresca or Jarritos grapefruit soda, to preference
Margarita Salt, for rim
Mix all ingredients and enjoy. Cheers.