This week, Spring is giving us a glorious sneak peek of her upcoming official debut. The sky is a deep, intense blue, mostly clear but with occasional wispy white clouds. The sun is warm on my pale skin, which is unaccustomed to being exposed. The south-facing trails are drying up, flanked on either side by thickening grass. There is green poking up from the muddy ground, soaked by scattered remaining melting snow patches. Longer days end with a show from the setting sun, promising al fresco everything in the months to come.
Naturally, these warm weather hints that surround me are reflected in my kitchen. Fresh flowers at all times. Fruity drinks that involve pineapple juice. Firing up the grill for citrus-honey chicken or shrimp skewers with summer salad. Lighter dishes with brighter flavors. My standard homemade lemonade- the first batch of the season. And fish tacos.
Sometimes people get apprehensive about fish tacos. Let me say this: if you like fish, and you like tacos, you’ll love fish tacos. I prefer mine with grilled or pan-seared fish (instead of the fried “Baja” style). There’s something summer-y and fresh about a plate of fish tacos, begging for a cold Pacifico with lime and bare feet. And when I make them at home, it’s all about the GREEN SAUCE.
Years ago, I tweaked a recipe for fish taco dressing (the source is long-forgotten) into a chunky, flavorful sauce that simply makes the dish. The sauce itself isn’t really green, but most of its ingredients are.
It starts with a shortcut: store-bought tomatillo salsa. You could make your own, but for this sauce, the canned/jarred version is perfect. (Any salsa verde will do, if the first ingredient is tomatillos.) To the salsa, add a few spoonfuls of Mexican crema or sour cream. Try not to spill all of the crema on your counter. #reallife
Chop up half of a zucchini, half of an avocado, and a whole jalapeno. Into the bowl! Squeeze in the juice from half of a lime while you’re at it.
Mince two garlic cloves into the bowl. I like using a mincer so the garlic chunks are teeny and blend right into the sauce. Also add seasoning: garlic salt, cumin, chili powder. Last, some fresh cilantro- about a half a cup, chopped.
That’s it! Look at those tasty chunks. The sauce should sit in the fridge for a bit to really let the flavors blend. This gives you time to focus on the fish.
When I make fish tacos, I usually use a tilapia filet, but any white flaky fish will do. I flavor it up with lime juice and the same spice mixture that I used in the green sauce. I like to cook it in a hot pan with a smidge of butter and olive oil. The pan works better than the grill with tilapia; it falls apart and I like to break it up while it’s cooking.
While the fish is cooking, I prepare some toppings: chopped tomatoes and onion, more cilantro, and lime wedges. For this meal, I also heated up some rice from the Mexican market and tortillas.
When the fish is thoroughly cooked and deliciously browned on the outside, it’s time to eat! Here’s how I assemble my fish tacos.
I start with a pile of warm tilapia. Next comes the fabulous chunky green sauce- don’t be shy! Then I add red onion, tomato, and cilantro. I squeeze a lime over the whole shebang and try not to lose too much of it as I bite into the taco. Scrumptious!
What I love about the green sauce is that it adds a coolness that balances the heat of the fish. It also adds a lot of texture, with the creamy avocado and crunchy zucchini. It’s delicious without overpowering the true flavor of the fish.
I’m not a “never summer” girl, like many folks in Park City; I’m eating up the warm-ish weather. I know this spring preview is just a tease- I think there’s even a chance of snow in this week’s forecast. But it’s coming. And dinners will be enjoyed on the patio soon enough. Until then, fish tacos at the kitchen counter are a delectable substitute!
What’s your favorite “spring fever” recipe? Share with me!
Fish Tacos with Green Sauce
For the fish, you’ll need:
- 1-2 tilapia filets (depending on how many people you’re feeding)
- ½ large lime
- Your favorite Mexican seasonings (salt, cumin, chili powder, etc.)
For the green sauce, you’ll need:
- ½ cup tomatillo salsa
- ½ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
- ½ of a large zucchini, chopped
- ½ of a large avocado, chopped
- 1 whole jalapeno, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- Juice of half a lime
- Scant teaspoon each of garlic salt, cumin, chili powder
To assemble the tacos, you’ll need:
- Taco-sized tortillas (flour or corn)
- Additional taco toppings of your choice (chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, and lime wedges)
Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for a half hour or so. While the sauce chills, season the tilapia with the lime juice and spices. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and cook the filet until it’s done, browned on both sides. Break up the filet while it’s cooking. To assemble your taco, grab a warm tortilla and layer the ingredients like this: tilapia, a couple of spoonfuls of the green sauce, toppings of your choice, squeeze of lime. Serve with cheesy Mexican rice and an ice cold Tecate or Pacifico and daydream about summertime. YUM!
Hungry for more? Check out the collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS link.