How I Saved My Marriage, or at Least Dinner

February 26, 2010

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As far as tacos were concerned, my husband and I were the yin and yang of marital partners. For years, I was convinced that I was born without a vital Mexican food gene that made me go gah-gah over the stuff. Meanwhile, my husband grew up in a family that designated a special “taco night” every week. To this day, he considers them one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity.

I have always found this disparity unsettling. I want him to be able to relive his nostalgic taco childhood in our kitchen, but somehow I could never bring myself to make it happen. Tacos just seemed so … boring.

That is, until a couple of summers ago, when we made way to Cincinnati’s popular Nada Restaurant. I was in the mood for a salty Margarita and Dustin was, of course, desperate for tacos — fried fish tacos to be exact. While the idea of plunging a perfectly good piece of fish into hot oil rattled me a little bit, I decided to indulge him.

Little did I know, a big surprise was on the way.

The batter was heavenly — light and flaky. And the impossibly moist fish was made even more delectable by the razzle dazzle of pico de gallo. Even the bright spike of cilantro in the guacamole gave me Mexican fever. I wasn’t sure if was the balmy weather or the Margarita, but something in me that evening shifted. I had become friends with my most dreaded food enemy.

Since that memorable evening at Nada, I have vowed to make more of an effort at home in the taco department. Thanks to my wise husband, I now know that tacos aren’t boring at all. They’re actually down right delicious, especially when they’re fried and smothered in high quality ingredients.

The following is my “go to” taco night recipe — the one that makes my husband happy. And the one that let us live happily ever after.

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Fish Tacos

Fried Cod

1 cup dark beer
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds boned, skinned firm, white-fleshed fish such as cod or tilapia
Vegetable oil

Guacamole

1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped serrano chiles with seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
Kosher salt

Homemade Salsa

Baja Cream

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lime peel
pinch of salt

1/2 Cabbage (shredded)

6-8 medium, soft shell tortillas

Procedure:

  1. For Baja Creme, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and reserve.
  2. For guacamole, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and reserve. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve to minimize oxidation.
  3. For fish, combine beer, flour and salt in large mixing bowl. Cut fish into 1 inch strips, the size of your pointer finger. Put 3 inches of vegetable oil in heavy pot or fryer and heat to 350 degrees. Plunge fish into batter and tap off excess. Fry 2-4 minutes in hot oil or until golden brown, stirring constantly to cook evenly.
  4. Warm tortillas in oven for 2 minutes.
  5. To assemble each taco, spread baja cream on tortilla, add a fish fritter, cabbage, salsa and top with guacamole. Squeeze lime over filling, fold tortillas, and eat.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Barb February 26, 2010 at 3:31 pm

We have never understood the fish taco thing, but now you’ve convinced us to try it. We’ll let you know what we think.

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Nathan February 27, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I can totally relate. I don’t know what it is about them, but like a burrito it’s an insatiable need. Has to be a man thing. Their simple, primarily meat… what man doesn’t love tacos? If you want to as well, chop up a grilled pork loin and pile it with caramelized onions on a homemade corn tortilla. If you dare, throw a fried egg on there too. Your mind will be officially blown.

Totally negates the need for the abominable yellow shells and greasy, fatty over-cooked ground beef kind (ok, so I like those too. Sue me.)

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Kristen March 6, 2010 at 4:37 pm

I have dreams about the Mahi tacos at Nada. I LOVE them! Ate great fish tacos in St. John, USVI last summer. They called the baja cream “liquid crack.” haha.

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Jen March 7, 2010 at 9:23 am

Do you make your own tortilla’s? My husband is from Texas and can’t really get on the store-bought tortilla train. I don’t really love them either, and we’ve made home made tortillas that were really great. Now he is requesting a tortilla press!

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Courtney March 7, 2010 at 11:16 am

Jen, I don’t but I’ve often debated doing so. The store bought varieties seem so tough and papery. I agree they’re a bit uninspiring (and dare I say cardboard-esque?). You must share your recipe for homemade tortillas.

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