Anybody for tacos?


Ben Welsh, Wikimedia Commons

Beer-battered fish is a delicious filling for tacos.

 

Being that I recently had oral surgery, and have to be careful how or what I eat, I have had to avoid one of my favorite foods: tacos made with crunchy corn tortilla shells.


Maybe I could try to eat them on one side of my mouth, but my tongue refuses to cooperate and ends up just doing its own thing and getting food everywhere. That makes sense, though; a tongue cannot operate in such a way that one half does its job while the other half remains idle.


So, for now, I go without tacos, and this is the only time I have wished I liked to eat soft ones. Fortunately, most people are not recovering from oral surgery and as far as I know, most people love tacos, so even though I can’t eat any, I can at least write about them.


I hope you are all finding ways to stay cool, as there is a heat wave as I write this. Take care.


Beer-battered fish tacos


2 pounds red snapper fillets (or your favorite type of fish)


Small amount flour


1 dozen corn tortillas (or small flour tortillas)


Beer batter (recipe follows)


Spiced white sauce (recipe follows)


Shredded cabbage


Tomato


Avocado


Shredded cheese of your choice


Fresh lime wedges


Oil for frying


Beer batter


1 large egg


1 cup flour


1 cup beer or ale


2 teaspoons cornstarch


1 teaspoon baking powder


1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Mix the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, blend the egg and beer; quickly stir into flour mixture. (Don’t worry about lumps.) This can also be used as a tempura batter for vegetables or shrimp, etc.


Spiced white sauce


1 small hot pepper of your choice, finely minced


1 teaspoon capers, finely minced


1/2 cup plain unflavored yogurt


1/2 cup mayonnaise


Fresh lime juice, as needed


1/2 teaspoon crushed Mexican oregano


1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


1/2 teaspoon dried, crushed dill weed


1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


Ground white pepper, to taste


1. Mix yogurt and mayonnaise together; stir in fresh lime juice just until mixture is slightly runny. Add minced hot pepper and capers. Blend in spices and mix until all ingredients are well blended.


To make tacos:


1. Cut fish fillets into approximately 2- to 3-ounce portions. Dust with flour and dip in prepared beer batter. Deep fry the batter-coated fish in hot oil (375) until crisp and golden brown. Remove and drain.


2. Serve fish wrapped in warmed, folded tortillas and garnish with shredded cabbage, spiced white sauce, chopped tomato and avocado and shredded cheese. Try a squeeze of fresh lime juice over the whole thing and enjoy.


Street tacos


You can use corn tortillas for this, which I prefer. They are even better if charred a bit on a grill.


2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce


2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice


2 tablespoons canola oil, divided


3 cloves garlic, minced


2 teaspoons chili powder


1 teaspoon ground cumin


1 teaspoon dried oregano


1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, cut into 1/2-inch pieces


12 mini flour tortillas, warmed


3/4 cup diced red onion


1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


1 lime, cut into wedges


1. In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, lime juice, 1 tablespoon canola oil, garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano.


2. In a gallon size zipper-type plastic bag or large bowl, combine soy sauce mixture and steak pieces; marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours, turning the bag occasionally.


3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add steak and marinade, and cook, stirring often, until steak has browned and marinade has reduced, about 5 to 6 minutes, or until desired doneness.


4. Serve steak in tortillas, topped with onion, cilantro and lime. Makes 6 servings.


Indian tacos


There are many recipes for various types of fry bread. You can even use equal parts of biscuit mix and flour, with enough water added to make a pliable dough. Some people like to use frozen yeast bread dough. It all depends on what you prefer.


Fry bread:


2 cups flour (all-purpose)


2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder


1 teaspoon salt


1 cup warm water


3 cups oil, for frying


Tacos:


1 tablespoon oil


1/2 yellow onion, diced


1 pound ground beef


2 teaspoons chili powder


1 teaspoon cumin


1/2 teaspoon salt


1/2 teaspoon black pepper


1/2 teaspoon paprika


1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper


1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder


1 can (15-oz.) dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (note: I much prefer homemade pinto beans, but it’s up to you)


1 can (14.5-oz.) petite diced tomatoes, drained


1 can (4-oz.) mild diced green chilies


Toppings:


Sour cream


Shredded cheese


Diced tomatoes


Shredded lettuce


Sliced black olives


Sliced avocado


Your favorite salsa


Cilantro


1. For fry bread: In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add the warm water and mix using a fork until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, then transfer to a clean bowl and cover tightly in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.


2. Divide the dough into 8 equal sections by pinching off golf-ball sized balls of dough, then pat and roll out the dough balls into roughly 6-inch circles on a lightly floured surface. Keep them covered with plastic wrap while you prepare to fry them.


3. For the tacos: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add the onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, just until they begin to soften. Add the meat and brown with the onions.


4. When the meat is no longer pink, add all of the spices, your choice of beans, tomatoes and chilies. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Stir everything together, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Top fry bread with mixture and add your choice of toppings. Makes 8 servings.


Grilled veggie tacos


Make sure bell pepper, zucchini and red onion are all chopped to roughly the same size for even cooking.1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, chopped


1 small or medium zucchini, chopped


1 small red onion, chopped


2 ears corn, kernels removed


1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil


1 teaspoon salt


1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper


1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


Corn or flour tortillas


Avocado, chopped


Queso fresco or cotija cheese (or your favorite kind)


Lime wedges


1. Combine veggies with olive oil, salt, ground chipotle pepper, cumin, garlic powder and pepper.


2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place grill basket directly onto the grill so it can preheat too.


3. If you don’t have a grill basket, spray a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray and spread veggies on top in a single layer. Otherwise, spread veggies directly onto grill basket.


4. Cook veggies on the grill for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until veggies are softened and slightly charred.


5. Remove veggies from the grill (if using foil, you can slide it off the grill directly onto a sheet pan).6. To serve, fill tortillas with grilled veggies and top with avocado, cheese, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Makes 6 servings.

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