Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fish tacos with black bean, corn and zucchini salsa

I hankered after fish tacos for about a week before I got around to making them.  I ended up having them on a Friday night when Leanne was coming round for dinner.  Apart from being a goal-kicking dinner at the best of times (healthy, tasty, colourful and you eat it with your hands!), this was a great option for a weeknight (when I rarely get home before 7pm) as I was able to prepare much of it in advance, and the rest was a breeze to whip up in about 20 minutes. 

Of course making fish tacos required also preparing the full gamut of taco accompaniment so for me this meant:
  • Taco shells
  • Fish
  • Spicy capsicum and tomato sauce for the fish
  • Black bean, corn and zucchini salsa
  • Chipotle sour cream
  • Guacamole
Honestly, all these things were so remarkably easy to put together and they complemented each other a treat.  Here's the blow by blow.

Ingredients - Fish Tacos:
  • Small soft corn tortilla shells
  • White fish fillets (I used rockling)
 Spicy Capsicum and Tomato Sauce:
  • 2 large red capsicums
  • 3 large red tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Verjuice
  • Coriander
  • 1 lime
  • Chilli powder
Black Bean, Corn and Zucchini salsa:
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • Small tin of corn kernals
  • 1 large or 2 small zucchini
  • 1/2 spanish onion
  • Coriander
  • Olive oil
  • Lime juice
  • Salt

Chipotle Sour Cream:
  • Sour cream
  • Chipotles in sauce
  • 2 ripe avocadoes
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/4 spanish onion
  • lemon juice
  • garlic
  • splash of olive oil
To prepare in advance

If you're using dried beans, prepare these ahead of time.  Whether soaking or cooking them, the danger is losing a lot of the nutrients of the beans in the excess water.  So to combat this I came up with a plan to cook them by absorption.  First I soaked them in about a cup of cold water for about 30 minutes.   Then I put them over a high heat and brought them to a simmer, in the same water they'd soaked in.  I left the on a low heat about 40 minutes (until they were soft but not mushy), and checked them regularly - at least every ten minutes - adding a quarter cup of water when they were looking dry and in danger of burning - until they were ready and all the water has been absorbed.  They sucked all their goodness back up into themselves! Winning!

At the same time I prepared the sauce by seeding the capsicums and putting them in a pot with the tomatoes and two garlic cloves on a medium heat, with about a quarter cup of verjuice.  I wanted a thick sauce so I decided to not add any water - the tomatoes produce a lot of liquid when cooked.  I added a decent spoonfull of chilli powder and simmer them on a low heat, stirring occassionally, until they were all squishy. 

Then I threw in a big handful of coriander (stalks and all) and added the zest and juice of 1 lime and a pinch of salt, and whizzed them all up with my bar-mix blender until a smooth paste was formed.  Pop the sauce in a bowl in the fridge until you want to zap it in the microwave and use it.  This made so much sauce we also used some to make nachos and then a spicy pasta a few days later. 

Prepare 20 minutes before eating

Take your fish fillets from the fridge and cut them into thin, boneless strips.  Massage some olive oil into the skin, sprinkle with a little salt and cracked pepper and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Take your cooked black beans from the fridge and put them in a large bowl.  Chop your zucchini and spanish onion into tiny pieces and add them to the bowl with the drained corn kernals.  Squeeze over the juice of one lime and a large handful of chopped coriander, olive oil and add a generous pinch of salt.  Toss.  That's it. (This also made so much salsa we had the rest on nachos with the sauce the next day and it was craptastically delicious).

Make your guacamole by mashing up your avocadoes with smashed garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.  Finely dice the tomato and quarter of spanish onion and mix these through with a pinch of salt. Da Na!

Make your chipotle sour cream by taking one big saucy chipotle from your tin (which you can find in Melbourne at Casa Iberica in Fitzroy) and chopping it into rough chunks and stirring it through a small tub of sour cream until it looks all marbled and pretty.  This will blow the minds of your fellow diners, and your own, and for good reason.

Now it's time to get your taco bits together.  Heat a griddle pan on a high flame.  While it warms, zap your tortillas in the microwave and then place them in the oven on a low heat to stay warm.  Grill your fish on a high heat about 5 minutes each side, if the pieces are small.  Because you've rubbed them with oil there's no need to add further oil to the pan.

Heat up your bowl of sauce in the microwave and serve everything! Taco shells can be wrapped in a pretty tea towel or cloth to keep their warmth.  Assembling the tacos gets messy pretty quickly but is also awesome fun.  Add tobasco or extra chilli if so inclined.  You can eat heaps and because they're not fatty or greasy you will still feel amazing afterwards. 

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