Fish Tacos

This is a pretty sneaky fab meal.  It’s easy to put together, but it will impres.  The key to making it healthier is the way you bread and cook the fish.  Typically, fish tacos are heavily breaded and fried.  To make it healthier, the swaps are easy and basic: egg whites for the dredge, panko for the crust and minimal amounts of olive oil to pan-fry. 

Let’s get to it.

Start with a light flavored white fish – cod is ideal, but anything without any overpowering flavor will work. You’ll want to buy about 3-4 oz per person.  Cut your fish into 1×1 inch chunks and toss them into a ziploc bag.

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You can marinade them a number of different ways, but my favorite marinade comes from Guy Fieri (Food Network).  It does involve tequila, but you can leave that out if you don’t want your fish to have too much fun before you cook ’em.

Marinade (inspired by Guy Fieri):

  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tsp of Tequila
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • generous pinch of salt + pepper

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Mix these together and then pour over the fish in the ziploc bag.  Let it chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

MEANWHILE….

Start prepping your tortillas.  I use my grill pan and just get them a little toasty.  You can also microwave them for a few (15-ish) seconds.  Cover them with a paper towel and sprinkle a bit of water on them.  You still want them fold-able like a taco, but this will just warm them up.

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Prepare any other toppings you want for your tacos.  I like to put out sour cream, guacamole, salsa, some chopped up cilantro and a cabbage slaw.  (I’m not going to give you the recipe of the one you’ll see pictured though, because it was no bueno.) 

Once the fish has marinated, it’s time to dredge and cook.  This goes quickly so have EVERYTHING else ready to go.  (Set the table, etc.)  Get a frying pan out and add about 1 Tbsp per serving of 3-4 oz of fish.  You can eyeball it – if you think you can get away with less, go for it.  You definitely should not need more than that. 

Get out 3 more plastic bags.  Fill one with flour, one with egg whites (or skim milk) and one with panko bread crumbs.

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If you’re not familiar with Panko, this is a Japanese type of bread crumb.  You can find it in the section with the other bread crumbs.  It’s super crunchy and tastes great, but is lower in calories than a traditional bread crumb.  It’ll give your fish a really crunchy coating even without deep frying.

Transfer the fish to the flour and shake.  To the egg whites and shake.  To the panko and shake.  Feel free to dance around a little bit while you’re shaking, it helps.  Trust me, I’m an expert.

Once you’ve done the last step, get your stove a-crankin.  Once it’s hot (oil starts popping), add your fish in.  Make sure to move the fish around and flip them – the key to do this with less oil is to have high heat and keep ‘em moving.  Once you feel them starting to firm up, sacrifice one and cut it open to check.  They should no longer have a sheen on the inside and should be kind of flakey.

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Once they are done, you are ready to eat!  Serve them up with the warm tortillas and toppings.  And, if you need something to do with all that leftover tequila, I just so happen to know the perfect beverage to use it up.

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Recap (Serving Size: 2 people, 2 tacos each)

6-8 oz of white fish, marinated in:

  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tsp of Tequila
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • generous pinch of salt + pepper
  • Tossed with:

    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 4 egg whites
    • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

    Pan-Fry in:

    • 1-2 Tbsp of Olive Oil (Less is more.  You can always add more as you go if you need to.)

    Serve with:

    • Warm tortillas (grill til crispy but still flexible or microwave for 15 seconds)
    • Sour Cream
    • Guacamole
    • Salsa
    • Cabbage Slaw
    • Margaritas

     

    (Calorie stats are going to vary depending on how much flour or panko you use, as well as any toppings and how many tortillas you have.  I found on average a 2-taco meal with a T of guac shared between the two was about 550 calories.)

    Meal Plan Follow Up: Pork with Peanut Sauce & Chicken Marsala

    This was Monday’s recipe in my meal plan for the week, and I gotta tell ya’ll, it is one of my faves.

    Pork with Peanut Sauce

    Pork with Peanut Sauce

    Unfortunately, I rarely follow a recipe exactly, so I forgot to tell you about a few tweaks I made. If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s a few pointers.
    – If you bought pork tenderloin, broil it. It takes about ~8-10 minutes on each side, and it’ll have this delicious, crispy outside and perfectly tender inside. Plus, it’s way faster than the grill / oven.

    Broiled Pork Tenderloin

    Broiled Pork Tenderloin

    – I use about half the peanut butter called for in the sauce, and gently bump up the soy sauce / rice vinegar to taste. I’ve made this the original way, and it’s a little too peanut butter-y of a texture and taste. I like it to be more runny, with just a hint of the PB taste. This is also key for cutting some of the calories. I forgot I had actually made this and posted it about 2 months ago, and you can see here the thicker texture as well as thinner pork chops. This week’s was much better… what can I say, my cooking is a work in progress!

    Tuesday I made the Chicken Marsala. I listed the recipe here. Again, tweaks. (I’d be a terrible chemist and/or engineer.)

    Chicken Marsala

    Chicken Marsala

    I love the sauce on this… it tastes even better the second day when the chicken has hung out in that sauce and just soaked it all up. This recipe originally came from WW “Simply the Best” cookbook, and they list the stats at 390, including the brown rice (which I did not list on the recipe). Sure beats Olive Garden’s 770 calorie version!

    After I made it, I decided the grapes really didn’t add much. I think I would leave them out in the future, and put mushrooms back in. What’s chicken marsala without mushrooms?

    I usually note in my cookbooks when I made a dish, what the reactions were, and any changes I’ve made. The last time I made this dish was actually November 26th, 2006. This is when I first start taking pictures of my food. I think I’ve come a long way in photography, as well as cooking. Here’s the original picture from nearly 3 years ago. I have no idea what setting I was using that made the dish look so…gray.

    Original Chicken Marsala, Early Photography Days

    Original Chicken Marsala, Early Photography Days

    Tonight, Chef Salad is still on the menu and I’m looking forward to a lighter dinner. Okay, sort of light, this salad does involve bacon and cheese. Everything in moderation, right?

    Simple Suppers: Week of September 14th

    You ready to eat? Me too. Eliminate the “what’s for dinner” dilemma with some simple meal planning. Or, cheat and use mine.

    Diner beware, this meal plan was based on what was on sale at my Harris Teeter (North Carolina) and what was in my freezer. I also rely on a lot of pantry staples that I keep on hand. I’ll include links to all the recipes, so double check to make sure you have all the ingredients you’ll need.

    Pantry Staples: Spices, Vinegars, Soy Sauce

    Pantry Staples: Spices, Vinegars, Soy Sauce

    I really love when a lot of my recipes overlap on an ingredient or two. This week’s overlap, for some reason, seemed to be scallions and sour cream. Which is delightful, since both those objectives almost always seem to turn into science experiments in my fridge!

    Get Hungry! I’ll give you the quick run-down, then details to follow.

    Mon: Pork Tenderloin with peanut sauce, sauteed broccoli and a green salad
    Tues: Chicken Marsala with whole wheat linguine, asparagus
    Wed: Chef’s Salad
    Thurs: Black Bean Tostadas with Spicy Chicken Sausage

    Details here:

    Monday: Pork tenderloin (half-price @ Teeter), with peanut sauce, sauteed broccoli and a green salad. I’ll be making the sauce and broccoli from this recipe, but subbing pork instead. You can, of course, stick with the flank steak si vous plait.

    Peanut Sauce

    Peanut Sauce

    Tuesday: Chicken Marsala with roasted asparagus (on sale @ Teeter). This recipe originated from the Weight Watcher’s Simply the Best cookbook, and it’s wonderful. And EASY. (Yay easy.) You can eat it solo, or serve it over brown rice or whole wheat linguine. Matt will be having it over linguine, because we have some in the pantry. I’ll be eating it solo, because we don’t have that much in the pantry. To roast the asparagus, after you snap off the ends and wash them, throw in a ziploc baggie with 1 T of Olive Oil. Shake, shake, shake, and lay out on cookie sheet. Add a pinch of kosher salt, and roast in the oven at 400 for 10-ish minutes.

    Wednesday: Chef’s Salad. I like this one because it’s a little bit decadent with the bacon (Oscar Meyer – on sale @ Teeter) but it uses a really light homemade dressing. I’ll actually sub half of the sour cream it calls for and put in Stonyfield Plain Lowfat yogurt. (Also on sale at Teeter. I know, isn’t this amazing???) You can order the meat from the deli and just ask them to slice it very thick, 1 inch, and chop it into pieces yourself.)

    My Favorite Swap Ingredient

    My Favorite Swap Ingredient

    Thursday: Black Bean Tostada with Spicy Chicken Sausage. Brace yourself, I’ve got another Everyday Food recipe. (That’s my #1 source of recipes, so expect many to come from there.) I’ll use this recipe, and I’ll add in al fresco au natural chicken sausage to my hubby’s, so his isn’t a vegetarian option. For the chicken sausage, just tear open the casing, and brown in a nonstick skillet and mix in with the black beans. The spicy jalapeno one is the best for this.

    By Friday, we like to kick our feet up and let someone else do the cooking. No, unfortunately, not our personal chef, just restaurant eating. Or, one of our willing friends or neighbors. So, I rarely plan through Friday. Hope this is enough to get you started on meal planning, using your pantry staples and grocery store sales. Get cooking!

    *If you want to calculate the calorie counts for any of these meals, just plug your ingredients and servings into this here website and let them do their calculating magic.

    Salmon & Simple Sauce

    My husband voted this “best dinner in our new house”… so you’re receiving this recipe with very high marks from the dinner critic! (We’ve been in our new house since May, so that’s about 4 months of dinners!)

    If you’re nervous about cooking fish, I understand. It’s taken me almost 4 years of cooking to really feel comfortable with recognizing when it’s done, and it turns out fish cooks a lot faster than I ever realized. But the health benefits and taste make it worthwhile, so start practicing! Harris Teeter had wild-caught Alaskan salmon sale last week, so I couldn’t resist these beautiful guys.

    Salmon Fillets

    Salmon Fillets

    I seasoned the salmon with just a sprinkle of salt and pepper and then roasted it at 450 degrees (pre-heated oven) for about 10 minutes. You can tell it’s done when you stick the figure in, give it a slight twist and it starts to flake.
    While the salmon is cooking, I whisked together 2 tablespoons of yellow mustard, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard*, 2 tsp of brown sugar and a small chopped up green onion. When the salmon was done, I just poured the mixture over the top of it.
    I served it with a green salad, as well as roasted squash and steamed green beans. The whole meal took about fifteen minutes from fridge to table. I’m not sure whether to be delighted or depressed that all these time-consuming recipes I’ve done in the past were beat out by this fifteen minute, five ingredient all-star. But I definitely know it will be a staple in the future.

    Salmon with Simple Sauce

    Salmon with Simple Sauce

    If you’re not a fish eater, the sauce would be delicious poured over pork chops or turkey breast as well.

    *I only had dijonnaise, which worked just fine and gave it a slightly creamier texture.