I rarely celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It’s never really appealed to me. Margaritas are anytime drinks and Mexican restaurants are no doubt unpleasantly packed. But this year, I had a driving urge to try my hand at making fish tacos. They have been on my mind and just sound so fresh, light, and tasty. So why not make them on Cinco de Mayo? Every food magazine and blog out there featured a recipe for fish tacos yesterday. Daily Candy even sent one directly to my inbox. So I got the message, but decided to go recipe-free. Ballsy, I know. My general plan was:
1. Grill a light, lean fish like tilapia or halibut (in my fancy Emeril grill pan I got free at my old job).
2. Mix together some type of Mexican crema using Greek yogurt (healthy!), lime juice, and spices.
3. Toast up some iconic little corn tortillas like you’d get from a taco stand in Baha.
4. Slice up radishes, red onion, and cilantro for toppings.
Sounds good right?
I started off by marinating the fish in lime juice. I think that’s what one of the recipes I perused said to do. It was more of a mini marinating session because it lasted about 10 minutes. I was hungry! No time for full-on marination.
Radishes seemed like a refreshing, crunchy colorful topping, so I sliced up a few of those. The diced red onion and fresh cilantro would also adorn my Mexican feast. Unfortunately, I got carried away with fish grilling and overly excited about toasting my tortillas that I FORGOT to use the radishes. Fortunately, they made their way onto a turkey sandwich my roommate made for me for lunch today (Best roomie ever, right? She even wrote my name and a little note on it).
The actual grilling of the fish was the most daunting task for me. But I slapped those lime-juiced fishies down onto my hot grill and let the cast iron work its magic. Alas, the filets completely crumbled when I tried to flip them, but fish is supposed to be flaky…I think.
The highlight of the evening was when I stumbled onto the perfect tortillas at the store. They were tiny and round and made of corn. Exactly what I had envisioned. My kitchen had all but transformed into a SoCal taco truck…minus the wheels, and sunshine, and mastery of the Spanish language. To warm the tortillas, I let each one sit in a hot dry frying pan. But all this did was literally warm them. Not enough. So I lit the burner on my stove and tossed on a tortilla. Immediately the delicate corn skin started to bubble and blacken in all the right places.
This toasting method even helped the tortillas keep their shape –optimum taco-ness for piling with tasty fillings with the greatest of ease.
The crema came together out of imagination and pure necessity. I plopped a scoop of Greek yogurt into the bowl and sprinkled in various sized pinches of salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Upon stirring, however, I realized I had a glob of spicy yogurt in a bowl. Not so good. What to do, what to do? I knew I was looking for a thin, sauce-like consistency so I actually stirred in the tiniest bit of skim milk to thin it out. That and a little lime juice did the trick. I also tossed the red onions in because I thought they might stick in the taco better if mixed into the sauce. Genius.
Into my crispy tortillas went the fish, followed by a drizzle of Mrs. Renfro’s medium corn salsa (the best), a dollop of my made-up crema, a sprinkling of chopped cilantro and a last minute squeeze of lime juice. And my sad little radishes never made it in because I was too excited to snap a photo and dig in. Cinco de Mayo-my were they fantastic!