Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Asian Fish Tacos: The great garage shakedown of 2010

For RT, who asked me for these.

I have done three international moves in the past eight and half years.  I haven't lived in the same country for longer than a three year stretch.  The result of that many moves are boxes in the garage that are filled with mysterious objects with no clear idea of their provenance.  It irked me to the point of distraction until finally I convinced Husband that we needed to go through the garage and organize.  Once and for all.

He reluctantly agreed for Husband loathes throwing anything away.  He is convinced that at some future date, something that is in the boxes will become useful and he can shove it into my face and say something like, "I bet you never thought we would have a use for THIS?"  It has yet to happen, but husband lives for the day.  We have begun the tedious process of opening boxes, sorting what is in the box into various piles of KEEP, RECYCLE, GIVE AWAY.  It has been a process filled with potential landmines as my gut instinct is to say, "THROW IT ALL AWAY" and his is  "DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!"  The current item of contention is a complete set of beautifully bound, deluxe Encyclopedia Britannica...from 1985.  (My gut says RECYCLE, his is SELL.)

The cleanup of the garage has left me very busy and too preoccupied to really cook.  With the garage the explosion it is, my minivan unable to be parked inside, I just want it finished and done with.  I can't think about cooking and if I do cook, it needs to be done really quickly.  But friend RT asked me for a fish taco recipe, and has asking for a bit of time.  So while going through boxes, I thought of different ways to do a fish taco.  As I was looking through a box of husband's books from college, I happened upon a stack of Asian-American novels.  Suddenly like a beam of light shining through the huge mess in the garage it hit me...ASIAN tacos.  Why in the world not!

As I got ready to make them, I started to worry that the dust had completely blocked off all my synapses and I was about to embark on a journey that could only end badly.  REALLY bad.  Really bad fish tacos that is.  However, when I went to ask Husband for help grilling them, he got pretty excited and offered to use his "expert" grilling skills to get my fish tacos to work.  He even allowed me to watch and photograph them as they were cooking.  We even had a momentary truce as we bonded with these fish tacos.

The result was very very good.  I was super pleased with these, and even before Kids got to eat one, husband and I were sharing one outside by the grill.  His face lit up for the first time since the "Great Garage Shakedown of 2010" and it said, "These are good." They are light, satisfying and super easy to make.   I'm hoping that the deliciousness of these tips the scales in my favor as we continue to clean the garage.  Serve these with Ginger Green Rice and you're good to go.

**As an additional note, I did try two different type of fish with these, both on the list of ocean friendly seafood.  I did a mahi-mahi (frozen and then defrosted from Trader Joes) and halibut, also frozen from Trader Joes.  The price different between the two was significant.  The mahi-mahi was about $5 a pound and the halibut was $12.  Both were delicious and satisfying.  Daughters both preferred halibut, as did Husband, but I liked the meaty denseness of the mahi-mahi,  If you have a favorite white fish, go ahead and use it and try these tacos out.
Asian Fish Tacos
Serves 6

2 lbs of firm white meat fish, your choice.  (I used mahi-mahi and halibut.  Tiliapia would be good as well as some cod) (make sure fish is defrosted if you are using frozen)
2/3 cup of mirin
2/3 cup of soy sauce (I use the Kikoman reduced sodium)
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
3 tablespoons grated ginger

30 minutes before cooking, mix mirin, soy sauce, lime zest and ginger all together.  Pour over fish and allow to sit.  After 30 minutes, remove fish from marinade.
Heat grill to medium high.  Using cooking spray or oil, grease the grill so as to prevent fish from sticking. 
You may want to consider the additional precaution of using a sheet of aluminum foil to keep the fish from sticking. (According to husband, mahi mahi was firm enough to make it on the grill without the foil, but halibut was too delicate and needed the foil)

Cook for 4 minutes on one side and then turn. Careful not to over cook, although the fish taco can be somewhat forgiving of a slightly dry piece of fish.  Cook for an additional 2 minutes until fish is firm and opaque.  Remove from grill.

Asian Slaw
 1/2 head of cabbage, thinly shredded
1 bunch of scallions finely chopped
1/4 cup of mayonaise
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
a good dose of black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and pepper.  Toss together with cabbage and scallions.  Set aside.

Sesame Chili Sauce
1/4 cup Sambal Oelek with garlic (or ground red chilis - available at your chinese market - super HOT)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Mix all ingredients together. Set aside.

Flour or corn tortillas, warmed over low heat in a fry pan
Cilantro sprigs

In a warm tortilla, add a nice chunk of fish.  Top with the slaw, cilantro sprig and a few sprinkles of sesame chili sauce.  Eat and enjoy!

Printable recipe

this is not a good price if you have a Chinese supermarket at your disposal, but just a picture of what I like to use.


Laurie said...

Hi! My name is Laurie.
Can I say, you are just such a godsend.

What you are doing to preserve some of these Asian (Korean) recipes that are being lost in a world where the 2nd gens are buying everything pre-made...including myself...is just awesome!

I just discovered your blog and am absolutely tickled that you actually have measurements!

Not that my mother was much of a cook....she was the youngest daughter and was saved for "better" things in life....but I grew up eating these foods in restaurants and going back to visit family.

This is my soul food. And yet, I never learned how to make them.

Thank you for all the effort you put into this.
With 3 kids, no less.

And your insights are so delightful.
Happy camper....

donutstodelirium said...

Oooh, what a delicious looking meal. I want to make this now.
Thanks for sharing this recipe.
*kisses* HH

Joanne Choi said...

Thanks Laurie for your sweet and kind words. I appreciate it. There is a wonderful women who has a website with a ton of korean recipes (plus videos) with measurements and a list of key Korean ingredients. Check her out at www.maangchi.com for more great Korean recipes. (Btu keep coming here as well!)

HH - hope you make them and tell me how they go.

Laurie said...

Thanks for the references. Will definitely check them out.

Having the corvina tonight.
I always used one of those wire baskets so it was always very messy. They turned out great!

Also, another reason I haven't cooked gool bi in a loooong while is that they only seem to come from China. Even the non-frozen ones are labeled "China, Wild". Now I never used to have any trouble with the corvina before but now with the package labeling and all the food issues that arose from there, the awareness made me stop and rethink having this fish at all.

Any insights? Opinions?

eddie said...

To everyone's delight, I made the Asian Fish Tacos tonight with the individually vacuum-packed Tilapia Loins from Costco and they were delicious. I threw the marinade together and improvised with tangerine zest (because no limes in sight at my house) and the fish was delicious and reminded me of a miso glazed seabass I had three children ago at a white table cloth restaurant in NY with my better half. I heated a stack of tortillas on low heat, rotating the order and they were warmed through perfectly and I made two slaws: one exactly as the recipe called for and one thrown in the Carrot Kimchee reciped sauce with cucumbers. Our 4 year old (a svelt/trim little guy) gobbled up a burrito size first one and asked for seconds and my hubs and 2 year old enjoyed too. Thank you my "Julia Child"!

Your devoted,
"Julie" (Sharon from Dallas)

P.S. We threw in some Crispy Chewy Oatmeal and Crispy Chewy Cranberry Oatmeal with Toffee mini cookies for dessert with tangerines--I know not a dinner without your wonderful recipes lately :)

kaila said...

OMG! that sounds just like my husband and I. We went through the same thing when we were packing for a move. Him trying to keep everything and I try to throw away the things he's trying to keep. :)
Thank you for this recipe. I just just thinking of fish taco.

Joanne Choi said...

Laurie -

on the goolbi or corvina - I agree with you about the origin of the fish, which is why I do not normally eat it (or serve it.) However, the ones that I have been finding frozen are from one of the islands around Jeju, Korea...which is why I like. Where do you live and what market do you shop?

Eddie/Julie/Sharon - glad that they worked out. I am assuming you use the carrot kimchee mix from the Asian sandwich post? That sounds intriguing. May have to add that as an option next time!

Laurie said...

South Orange County, CA.

My closest large Korean grocery store is in Tustin. I looked for your brand and was unable to find it. The other one is farther in Garden Grove. Can't stand the fwy interchange I have to take.

It's weird because there's such a big Korean community down here but there's a reluctance for anything Korean. There's even only a very small number of restaurants.

Sandi said...

Wow another wonderful food blog!!! I bookmarked you, am following you on both google and FB.....Love your blog and can't wait to make some of your recipes.

Vivian said...

Hi! I've read your blog for a few weeks now but this is my first time commenting. I love love love your blog! You make everything look so easy and delicious, and I love the pictures! I've already tried several of your recipes and can't wait to read new posts. :)

Joanne Choi said...

Laurie - I would definitely make the trek over to Garden Grove for the bigger Korean markets...even if you have to take the 22. HMart has a great selection of fish, and I'm guessing you may be able to find the frozen goolbi there.

to Kaila, Sandi, Eddie and Vivian - thank you so much for the lovely comments. I truly appreciate the kind words. I'm thrilled that people get some use of these posts and even perhaps find them entertaining!

Laurie said...

You're obviously familiar with the interchange...lol
For fish, I will make the trek.


Table Talk said...

I have some of that chili sauce in my fridge at all times. The sauce adds just the right amount of kick to these wonderfully flavored fish tacos.
Followed you here from Foodgawker, so you know I love your photo :)

Maria said...

Great flavors going on here!

GoucherOC said...

absolutely DELICIOUS!!!

Peri said...

These tacos sound delicious. I will be making these after Passover is over and I can eat tortillas again :-) A few questions; what is mirin/where do I find it? and do you have any suggestions to use as a substitute for the chili sauce for the "I can't eat this it's too spicy" whimp?

Helen said...

Your recipe calls for 2 lbs of white meat and in your photos, it looks as if you grilled 12 fillets. Do you think that would be enough to feed 9 adults? I'm going to use vacuum packed Tilapia loins from Costco. Please advise.

Your loyal reader,

Joanne Choi said...

Hi Peri -

instead of the salsa - why not try a just straight up avocado or even a mildly spiced guacamole? It would add an additional richness, and no spice.

Helen - let me tell you something scary. My entire family ate through those two lbs of fish. (only 4 people eating and two are under the age of six.) I would say for 9 adults - you'd want to do between 4-5 lbs of fish. (around 1/3 to 1/2 lb per person, depending on their eating capacity.) Also, in addition - the tilapia is less dense, so watch your marination time. Some readers have experienced saltiness when marinating tilapia. I hope this helps

Vivian said...

Do you think this would work with shrimp ? only asking because I have a tiny bit of fish and a lot of shrimp! ;p

Joanne Choi said...

definitely think that shrimp would work. you'd want your shrimp peeled, deveined and tails taken off. Marinate for less time - closer to 15 minutes. Give it a whirl! (if you're bbq-ing, it's about 3-4 minutes per shrimp - barely pink - skewering will make this easier.)

Christine said...

just made this tonight with orange roughy and shrimp. marinated for only 15 minutes since the fish is pretty thin. kids ate it without the slaw (so i just gave them other veggies) and my husband loved it. he said the flavors all worked really well together--he's got some "sensitive" taste buds so that is a complete compliment! i am so not a natural cook but your recipes are giving me more confidence and even enjoyment, knowing that the result is going to be positive. such a difference from when i usually try something new and my husband says, "how about just sticking to the usuals?" i'm loving your menus, recipes, everything!

Me, the hubby, plus 3 said...

getting ready to make this tonight. i was looking for a fish recipe and thought your site wouldn't fail me and it didn't! can't wait to bite into my first one!

Maruchan said...

Made fish tacos the other night, it was awesome. Also had leftovers the next day for lunch. Ate it as a cold salad without the tortilla. So good!

I'm going to try your oxtail soup recipe when I am bold enough.


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