Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Beer-Battered Cod Tacos with Purple Cabbage, Fresh Pineapple & Salsa Verde Crema

Being one that believes you can put just about anything in a tortilla, call it a taco and be more than good for the day, a recipe… for a taco… just doesn’t seem necessary. Tacos are more about combining a few key ingredients for just a little twist on what you might expect. The “recipe” is simply this: try this combo.

This past weekend is a case in point with regard to the “try this” mindset in taco making. While dining out, my order of grilled fish tacos happened to have fresh pineapple over top. Note to self: it works! And… it’s something I truly haven’t done before.

While my weekend fare was grilled, I thought that a battered fish might be perfect for this little pineapple topper… and a reason to have a very infrequent fish fry. The rest of the components kind of amassed as a result of both their flavor profiles and color… vibrant purple cabbage brings a welcomed earthy, crisp bite that plays beautifully against the yellow hue and sweet flavor of the pineapple; brilliant slivers of green onion contrast beautifully against this canvas and provide a nice pop of delicate, bright flavor; thin, graceful leaves of cilantro add a perfect finishing touch in both flavor and presentation to lay overtop; and a light, spicy crema adds that final “saucy” element that brings the whole thing together, marrying the sweet and the spicy in perfect bliss. Slice up a few fresh, seeded jalapeños for another little pop of flavor… and voilà... or is it ahí está?... and there’s another little layer of goodness.

Oh… and it’s a beer-battered fish… so the coating is light and ethereal. The whole thing is easily gluten-free with the switch out of all-purpose flour with a combo of rice flour and gluten-free all-purpose flour… and a gluten-free beer… with no loss in flavor… or enjoyment. Or... go full flour throttle... either way, it works.

You can put anything in a taco… it’s all about trying this and that… and this is a particular that that works!

Beer-Battered Cod Tacos with Purple Cabbage, Fresh Pineapple & Salsa Verde Crema
Serves 2 (easy to double, etc.)

Recipe details indicate “gluten-free” ingredients where astericks (*) are noted; however, regular all-purpose flour (1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons) can be substituted for the rice and gluten-free flours, regular cream cheese for the Tofutti, a beer of your choice for the gluten-free beer. While corn tortillas are not always gluten-free, there are varieties that are marketed as “gluten-free” if this option is desired.

6 ounce cod filet, deboned and cut into approximately 1” wide by 3” long strips (halibut, or other similar fish, works great too)
½ cup brown rice flour, plus 1 tablespoon*
½ cup gluten-free all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon*
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
1 cup gluten-free beer*
canola oil, for frying (or other oil of choice with a high smoke point)
2 cups thinly shredded purple cabbage
2 green onions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
1 jalapeño, trimmed, seeded, thinly sliced
1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple (approximately ¼ of a small pineapple)
15 to 20 sprigs of cilantro, stems trimmed up a bit
4 to 6 corn tortillas
6 ounces “Tofutti” cream cheese*
1 8-ounce can salsa verde

Place cod pieces in a large sieve/strainer, set over a bowl; lightly dust with the 2 tablespoons of flour, mix flour through pieces and shake off excess. Season fish with ½ teaspoon each of kosher salt and ground black pepper. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together remaining 1 cup flour (½  rice and ½ gluten-free, if using these) with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper, and beer until fully combined, to make batter.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Meanwhile, heat 1” to 2” depth of canola oil in a deep-rimmed frying pan (to approx. 360 degrees F., if using an oil thermometer). Place a large sieve/strainer over a bowl. Working with 3 or 4 pieces of fish at one time (using long tongs), gently dip each piece of fish in batter, to coat, then place pieces in strainer to drip excess batter. Using tongs, gently transfer each piece of fish into hot oil, one at a time. Fry for approx. 1 minute, turn pieces and continue frying until golden, about another 45 seconds to 1 minute.  Transfer fried fish to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat process until all fish is fried. Place plate with fish in warm oven to hold.

Carefully heat tortillas over open flame of burner on stove (or in oven, if desired), until just lightly singed and warmed through. Hold tortillas warm in foil until all are completed.

Meanwhile, place Tofutti and salsa verde in pitcher of electric blender and mix until completely emulsified. Transfer to small bowl.

To assemble tacos, place a few pieces of fish in each tortilla and top with shredded cabbage, diced pineapple, green onion, sprigs of cilantro, jalapeño, and a drizzle of “crema.” Serve immediately.

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