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Healing foods

17 Apr

Dear Rita,

Sometimes vacation can get the best of the digestive system… oh yea all that bucket sangria on the beach all day didn’t help either (even though it was made with fresh coconut, pineapple and papaya).

So needless to say since I got back I have been experimenting with different foods to heal some intense problems I have been having. and eating mostly raw.

For breakfast today I made an awesome smoothie utilizing the healing benefits of ginger:

carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects. “

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72

Green Power smoothie

Ingredients:

-1 cup yogurt, raw/ full cream is best (want to get some probiotics)

- 1 inch of peeled ginger

-1 banana (this adds a lot of sweetness and fiber)

-1 whole avocado (omega3 goodness, your skin is gonna rock!)

-1 tablespoon raw honey (optional) (if you like your smoothies sweet or if you are getting sick or having allergies this is great to add)

Lucky for me that my housemate bought a handblender so it’s super easy for me to blend this smoothie. You might have to add a little water if you are using a blender. Simple, put all ingredients together and blend then enjoy! YOu can also add water if you don’t like your smoothies as thick as I do. I actually have to eat it with a spoon.

 

The smoothie has a wonderful sweet and spicy flavor and is a great way to jumpstart your digestion in the morning. It is really filling bc of the avocado but you could also throw in a half cup of nuts or dried cranberries if you want.

Gluten free sprouted granola- adapted from the Food Trust

14 Mar

Rita! I am not sure if I will be able to make this anytime in the near future since I am really having a hard time finding GF ingredients. However, when I saw this recipe on the Food Trust I could not RESIST but post it because sprouting is exciting and is a great way to celebrate SPRING. Similarly, I was excited to edit the recipe to include great GF alternatives!

Let me know if you make it, how it turns out, and maybe you can add photos of it to my post!

Sorry that there is so much text and no photos to make it pretty!

Raw Sprouted Granola

by Lindsay Lidge

October 7 2011
In: Fall, Pantry, Recipe

As
Raw Sprouted Granola

Two to three days ahead of time, soak and sprout your grains:

1 cup each wheat berries, rye berries, barley, oat groats and spelt

GLUTEN FREE ALTERNATIVES: quinoa, buckwheat (whole groat) berries, amarynth, brown rice, flax seed, sweet white sorghum, teff, kaniwa (see http://zocalogourmet.com/products/kaniwa.html)

Put 1 cup of each grain in a separate quart jar and fill each with water. Soak overnight, then drain and sprout for 1 1/2 to 2 days, rinsing every 6 to 8 hours.


The night before, soak the oats and the bulgur:

1 cup bulgur (bulgar is not gluten free)

1-2 cups rolled oats (oats can be gluten free if coming from a GF safe facility)

Combine in large mixing bowl and add 3 to 5 cups warm water to cover. Cover loosely and let stand overnight.


When you are ready to make granola, combine:

Sprouted grains

Soaked oats and bulger

2 – 3 cups raisins, dried cranberries, currants, apricots, apples or favorite dried fruits.

1/2 – 1 cup oil (I usually use melted coconut oil or sometimes olive oil)

1 – 2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup raw honey or maple syrup, or more to taste

1/2 – 1 cup flax meal (flax is GF)

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Anything else you like: Sea salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, cardamom, cayenne…use your imagination.

Rinse grains a final time and add to oats and bulgur along with remaining ingredients. Mix well, taste it, and keep adding things from the last group until it’s just right.

Storage: Keeps in the fridge for up to 10 days.  Also freezes well.

___________________________________________________

SPROUTING DETAILS, RESEARCHED FROM THE INTERNET, IT’S PRETTY SIMILAR FOR EACH GRAIN:

QUINOA

Description: An ancient grain which has been cultivated for over 5000 years! It is the quickest of all sprouts, prefering to soak for only 20-30 minutes and showing 2 roots per seed within 24 hours. Pronounced “Keen Wah”.

Quinoa is the only sprout which contains every single amino-acid.

It is very beautiful as well as delicious.

Very nutritious. So small that you can add the to many a food!

TEFF:

Teff is a tiny brown grain. They are usually available at health food stores – if not, ask the store to order them. Specify whole grain.

Instructions
Add 4 tbs. of whole grain teff to a clean sprouting jar with fine mesh cover. Pour purified water to a depth of about 2 inches. After about 4 hours, slowly drain off the water, and rinse twice more with purified water.

Shake the jar to distribute the teff around the inner walls, then lay the jar on its side in a place that does not receive direct sunlight. Shake the jar several times per day, and twice each day spray a bit of purified water into the jar using a plastic spray bottle.

On the third, fourth or fifth day, after the sprouts have grown about 1 or 2 inches, place the jar outside in the sun – the porch or dashboard of your car are good places. Allow the sprouts to dry in the sun for 1 to 2 days, then enjoy this unique nutritious, sweet and inexpensive treat!

http://www.fromsadtoraw.com/Recipes/SweetDriedTeffSprouts.htm

Buckwheat Groats

            buckwheat groats         

Hulled Buckwheat

One of the quickest sprouts around – Groats are nutty, plump and extremely tender!

Seed to Sprout in 1-2 Days

Yield = 1.5:1

Seed Shelf Life at 70° = 2 years

Sprout Shelf Life = 1-2 weeks

Nutritional info:

Vitamins A, B, C and E

Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium

All Amino Acids

Protein: 15%

Buckwheat Groats

Sprouting Instructions

Yields approximately 1 Cup (1/2 lb.) of Sprouts

Put 2/3 Cup of seed* into a bowl or into your Sprouter.

Add 2-3 times as much cool (60-70 degree) water.

Mix seeds up to assure even water contact for all.

Allow seeds to Soak for 20 – 60 minutes.

Note: Groats take up all the water they need quickly, that is why their Soak time is so short. They get waterlogged if soaked too long, and will never sprout – so -

Don’t over-soak!

Empty the seeds into your sprouter if necessary.

Drain off the soak water.

Rinse thoroughly with cool (60-70°) water

Note: Groats create the starchiest water on Earth – it is amazingly thick! They won’t sprout too well unless you get rid of it – so Rinse and Rinse and Rinse until the water runs clear. It can take a little while – but don’t skimp.

Every Rinse is the same with Groats: Rinse and Rinse and Rinse until the water runs clear.

Drain thoroughly.

Set anywhere out of direct sunlight and at room temperature (70° is optimal) between Rinses.

Rinse and Drain again in 4-8 hours.

And, perhaps one more…

Rinse and Drain in 4-8 hours.

And, possibly one more…

Rinse and Drain in 4-8 hours.

We like our sprouts small so we stop whenever they have the tiny tails we seek.

Your sprouts are done 8-12 hours after your final rinse. Be sure to Drain them as thoroughly as possible after that final rinse.

The goal during the final 8-12 hours is to minimize the surface moisture of your sprouts – they will store best in your refrigerator if they are dry to the touch.

Transfer your sprout crop to a plastic bag or the sealed container of your choice – glass is good – and put them in your refrigerator – if you can keep from eating them all first.

Note: Grains do not store well in refrigeration so you should try to grow just what you need. It isn’t actually that they store poorly, it is just that most grains are cool weather crops, so though they slow down quite a bit, they continue to grow – even in the refrigerator.

Remember that the yield will be approximately 1.5:1, so in theory you can start with as much as 2/3 as much dry seed as your Sprouter has capacity.

Amaranth

Sprouting Instructions

Yields approximately 1 Cup (1/2 lb.) of Sprouts

Note: Amaranth does not require soaking!

Put 2/3 Cup of seed* into your Sprouter.

Rinse thoroughly with cool (60-70°) water

and Drain thoroughly.

Note: Amaranth appears water-resistant. Just keep rinsing and draining as scheduled and have faith – it will sprout!

Set anywhere out of direct sunlight and at room temperature (70° is optimal) between Rinses.

Note: Amaranth can benefit from more frequent Rinse/Drain cycles. If you do it every 4 – 6 hours your seeds will sprout a bit sooner.

Rinse and Drain again in 8-12 hours.

And then …

Rinse and Drain in 8-12 hours.

And then again …

Rinse and Drain in 8-12 hours.

And, perhaps one more…

Rinse and Drain in 8-12 hours.

We usually stop here. We like our sprouts small.

Depending on your climate and the time of year you are sprouting and most importantly your personal preference – You may Rinse and Drain again at 8-12 hour intervals for several days. However – we prefer to sprout only to the point where most of the seeds have sprouted tiny (1/4 inch) roots, which is typically after just 4 or 5 Rinse and Drain cycles.

Your sprouts are done 8-12 hours after your final rinse. Be sure to Drain them as thoroughly as possible after that final rinse.

The goal during the final 8-12 hours is to minimize the surface moisture of your sprouts – they will store best in your refrigerator if they are dry to the touch.

Transfer your sprout crop to a plastic bag or the sealed container of your choice – glass is good – and put them in your refrigerator – if you can keep from eating them all first.

Note: Grains do not store well in refrigeration so you should try to grow just what you need. It isn’t actually that they store poorly, it is just that grains are cool weather crops, so though they slow down quite a bit, they continue to grow – even in the refrigerator.

Amaranth can make it in refrigeration for about 2 weeks but if you can use ‘em fresher we think you’ll like them better.

Remember that the yield will be approximately 1.5:1, so in theory you can start with as much as 2/3 as much dry seed as your Sprouter has capacity.

Health benefits of Germinated Brown Rice

On to some health benefits. Personally, I find GBR to be the easiest rice to eat. I’ve been eating white rice for years in Japan and never enjoyed it. It feels heavy and sticky, I get really sleepy after eating a big bowl, and of course we all know that it’s really poor in vitamins and fiber. I started eating brown rice for all of my rice meals this year, and while I’ve enjoyed it, it also makes my stomach feel very heavy. GBR has a mellow flavor and a soft mouthfeel, and is just really enjoyable to eat.

The most touted health benefit to GBR is the amino acid GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, that is created during germination. GBR apparently has twice the GABA of regular brown rice, and ten times the GABA of white rice, from 6 to 40 mg of GABA per 100 grams of rice. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that seems to have the following benefits: promotes fat loss by the stimulation of the production of Human Growth Hormone; increases the sleep cycle giving deeper rest; boosts the immune system; lowers blood pressure; inhibits development of cancer cells; assists the treatment of enxiety disorders.

Rice


Short Grain Brown, Wehani, Red Thai, Wild

Sprouted Rice may need to be cooked (it’s too tough raw for most people) but it is faster to cook and tastier too.

Seed to Sprout in 2-4 Days

Yield = 1.5:1

Seed Shelf Life at 70° = 2-4 years

Sprout Shelf Life = 1-2 weeks

Nutritional info:

Vitamins B, C and E

Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus

Amino Acids

Protein: 15%

 

Sprouting Instructions
Yields approximately 1 Cup (1/2 lb.) of Sprouts

Put 2/3 Cup of seed* into a bowl or into your Sprouter.
Add 2-3 times as much cool (60-70 degree) water.
Mix seeds up to assure even water contact for all.
Allow seeds to Soak for 12-24 hours.

Note: ANYtime we soak ANY seed for longer than 12 hours, we change the water. when your first 12 hours is done: Drain off the soak water, Rinse the seeds and refill with fresh water. Continue soaking. It is extremely rare to soak longer than 12 hours, but Brown Rice is a seed that can take it. We suggest that you try your first batch with a 12 hour soak and see how you like the results. You can try the longer soak on future crops. That way you’ll know the differences and which you prefer.

Empty the seeds into your sprouter if necessary.
Drain off the soak water.

Rinse thoroughly with cool (60-70°) water.
Drain thoroughly.

Set anywhere out of direct sunlight and at room temperature (70° is optimal) between Rinses.

Rinse and Drain again in 8-12 hours.
And, perhaps one more…
Rinse and Drain in 8-12 hours.
And, if you like one more…
Rinse and Drain in 8-12 hours.

We usually stop here. We like our sprouts small.

FYI: The traditional goal in sprouting Rice is a 1/8 inch root.

Depending on your climate and the time of year you are sprouting and most importantly your personal preference – You may Rinse and Drain again at 8-12 hour intervals for several days. However – we prefer to sprout only to the point where most of the seeds have sprouted tiny (1/8 inch) roots, which is typically after just 2 -4 Rinse and Drain cycles.

Grow them for as long as you like (as long as you continue to Rinse and Drain every 8-12 hours) and find out for yourself when they are most delicious!

Harvest
Your sprouts are done 8-12 hours after your final rinse. Be sure to Drain them as thoroughly as possible after that final rinse.

The goal during the final 8-12 hours is to minimize the surface moisture of your sprouts – they will store best in your refrigerator if they are dry to the touch.

Refrigerate
Transfer your sprout crop to a plastic bag or the sealed container of your choice – glass is good too – and put them in your refrigerator.

Remember that the yield will be approximately 1.5:1, so in theory you can start with as much as 2/3 as much dry seed as your Sprouter has capacity.

Italian Braised Pork Steaks: Blogging on a Blog Wasn’t the Plan

5 Feb

Carey! So glad I’m finally getting this to you because it will surely add to your gluten-free repertoire of recipes! It does involve handling a bit of meat, which isn’t my favorite part of cooking, but compared to other dishes, its relatively hands-off when it comes to that part.


So why braised pork steaks? Well,there are two reasons: first, a couple days prior, Aleks came home with two bags full of meatsies he got at a serious discount at SuperValu. Like giant cuts for $3! This rampage at SuperValu also meant that neither Aleks nor I had any experience in some of the cuts. Time to experiment!

Second, because eating well-prepared, irresistibly delicious food with well-loved, irresistibly fun people is my favorite thing to do, I often accept Aleks’ requests to commission me to make dishes he discovers, and he always finds amazing recipes. Usually, however, I put my own spin on it, and that was supposed to be the case here. I was going to use different spices and some sauerkraut to make it a little more Eastern European; our condo-owners recently gifted us some homemade sauerkraut!

However, it truly is incredible what stress does to memory retention and attention skills. Once I got into the kitchen, my original plan to modify the recipe completely fell out of my head. Auto-pilot was turned on without my consent, and it wasn’t until the damage was done (delicious damage albeit) that I realized I deviated from our Eastern European vision. Italian it was then!

The original recipe is from this blog, and after trying this dish and browsing through some of his other recipes, I would probably try another. It was quite good.

I modified the amounts in the original blog to the ones below to suit my tastes and added a reduction process at the end and made a sauce from the yummy bits left after browning the steaks. I put that sauce over EVERYTHING. Sauce it up, dammit. That’s what I say. So mouthwatering.

2 pork shoulder steaks 
6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for searing
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
3/4 cup chicken stock
3 bay leaves (mine was old so I used more..)
1 onion, quartered
4-5 Yukon gold potatoes, quarter or halved if they are small

First step…rub it down.

First step is to get those spices mixed and mashed up good. On your cutting board, run your knife through the garlic, oregano, thyme, salt and black pepper. The juices of the garlic will make all the other spices stick together a little, and once it’s minced, you can run the sides of your knife over the mixture to make a kind of paste.

Whisk this paste with the olive oil and vinegar, and using only half of the mixture, rub the spice mix on both sides of the steaks.

Second step…brown and braise it up.

Now we’re are going to brown the meat just enough to bring out some flavor, but not enough to cook the inside of it just yet.

Ideally you want to use an over-safe dish that can also be used on the stove top. If not, you can certainly use whatever pan you like for this first part and then a baking dish for the oven portion of recipe. Either way, you want to put about a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan as it heats up on high. Once it’s hot and ready, place the steaks in the pan to sear on each side for about 3 minutes.

They should look nice and brown when you turn them over and then take them off the heat. (Hang onto the frying pan and the brown bits left at the bottom – we’re gonna need that! Rub the remaining garlic-spice paste on each side and place them on a plate for just a couple minutes while you prepare baking dish with the other ingredients.

Place the onions, celery, potatoes, bay leaf and chicken stock in the baking pan. Place the seared pork steak on top of the vegetables and cover the dish with foil if it doesn’t have an accompanying top.

Place in a 350 degree oven and braise for 1  1/2 hours. Check after 1 hour and add more liquid if necessary. The meat should be fork tender when it’s ready!

With the brown bits left in the pan used earlier, you can add a little red wine and boil it down while scraping the bits and mixing them around the wine with a wooden sp0on. If it feels right and you want to thin the reduction out a little (if it gets to thick), you can add a little broth if there is any left over from earlier. Drizzle this sauce over the veggies and steaks once they are plated and enjoy!

GF en el DF

22 Jan

Being gluten free in the US is interesting as it is.  I am curious to see how this story will unfold here.  It has always astounded me the way people react when I tell them I am GF.  People either react with disgust/othering, curiosity, innapropriate questions (really we are eating and you want to know about my bodily functions?), and more rarely they react with empathy.

It is hard enough to advocate for myself in my own language, so I hope doing so here can be a lesson in empowerment, and will further help me come to terms with my dietary needs.

So far it is fun doing research, first in finding the vocab in spanish I need, but the most exciting part of course is finding out how many exciting things I CAN eat, let’s be honest- eating is the point of life!:

[Gluten free food in Mexico

Eating gluten free in Mexico is fairly easy, diet is basically corn based (more so in the central-south than in the north). Corn tortillas are the norm in the central-south and in the north you will usually have an option to both, though "burritos" will always be in flour tortillas

"Safe" food in restaurants
All salsas, including guacamole will be made from scratch (so far never encountered one that made me sick, be it on the street stalls or in the restaurants)
All tacos (except fish or seafood) will be made from plain meat on the grill (usually steak)
Machaca (north)
Cochinita Pibil (Yucatan)
Veracruz style fish fillet (Veracruz!)
Any filling used in quesadillas (the ones from Mexico City which are hand made on the spot) (chicken tinga, mushrooms, pumpkin flower, cheese, chicarron, tinga de res, etc)
Soups (except fideo, which is pasta and sometimes vegetable soup or Juliana soup which is a vegetable soup but with noodles in it) safer bets are sopa de tortilla, consome de pollo (this one has rice in it), caldo talpegno and Pozole (main dish)
Any type of "barbacoa" will be a safe bet, the style ranges from state to state, but it is usually lamb meat with spices
Pipian (peanut based sauce, can be done with either pumpkin seeds or peanuts)
Steak is readily available in all restaurants, the easiest dish is a "Tampiquegna" which is a steak with guacamole and a small enchilada (make sure it is not a mole enchilada, it is usually either green sauce or red sauce both of which are fine) and beans as well
Pescado empapelado (fish steamed inside paper)
Chicken fillets are available in most places, just make sure it is not breaded (i.e. "enpanizado")
All mains in a sauce should be safe, sauces in Mexico tend to be watery clear, not milky thick (except mole and nogada, though nogada is safe) so do not fear to try puntas de filete en chile pasilla or pechuga de pollo en salsa de mango or anything in some "salsa", stay clear of anything that is not local, like "bechamel" sauce, this one will probably not be gluten free or tartar sauce either.
Shrimp tend to be not battered, safe bets are "al mojo de ajo" and "a la diabla" (hot)

Foods to avoid
Mole (sorry!)
Chiles rellenos (battered)
Fish and seafood tacos (battered)
Milanezas (breaded steak or chicken fillet that is later fried)
Quesadillas from a "restaurant" that is NOT a taqueria where they are being made from corn flour (quesadillas in the north are just flour tortillas with cheese, while in Mexico City they are oval shaped corn tortillas that are filled with an assortment of dishes) (see above)
If you are in Baja, stay clear of the "Agua de Cebada" (Barley water) this is usually sold at the fish taco stands and is similar to Horchata, but while Horchata is rice based, barley-water is... you guessed it! Barley based (looks browner than Horchata)

On a shoestring
any market will have fresh food and vegetables
Rotisserie chicken is readily available and they usually supply the corn tortillas and the salsa as well
Tamales (most are available at 6am or so) along with a calorie packed atole
Fruit stands (if your intestinal flora can cope with it) they also have some chopped veggies here like beetroot, carrots and jicama
Street tacos
Eat at fondas, the ladies there prepare the food daily on the spot and will know exactly what went into it, most fonda menus include a "pasta" soup at the start, just avoid that course and the rest will most likely be ok

Snacks and trekking munchies
Chocolate covered raisins and almonds from Ricolino are available in practially any little shop in Mexico (look for an acrylic boxy display case on top of the counter)
Snickers and Milky Way are available as well
Assorted chocolates
Dried fruit and seeds are a bit too dry for my taste and not very cheap either, can be bought at some markets and at the supermarkets
Alegrias, plain or chocolate covered are a fabulous treat, not readily available in the North unless you go to a health food store and even then they will not be as nice as the "fresh" ones.
Health food stores have sesame seed bars and some have pecan and almond bars stuck with sugar

Sweets
Try the artisanal type, those will all be GF
Mazapan (sold in any shop) is powdered peanut with sugar and a hint of cinammon, commercially made and readily available (I have tried La Rosa and El Cerezo brands and both have proven safe)
Dulce de coco or cocada, coconut candy one has milk the other one does not
Cajeta! Something similar to a runny toffee, it is usually served over bread but in the area of Celaya (Guanajuato and other abundant dairy producing areas) it is abundantly produced and sold in tiny wood tubs for personal consumption with a spoon
Ate de Membrillo or Ate de Guayaba, also more available in the orchard-rich areas of Michoacan and Guanajuato, it is fruit boiled down to a sort of jam but it solidifies, usually served with a slice of cheese if available at a restaurant
Alegrias (made from amaranth, very nutritious) (see trekking munchies)
Palanquetas or pipitorias or pepitorias, the Mexican equivalent of peanut brittle
Tamarind candy (pits included) all come sweetened with sugar and some will have chilli as well, you can get them with lemon juice at the markets at times
Popsicles (from la Michoacana, there is one in every street corner) sorbets will also be safe, ice cream is getting way too processed now so I would stay clear of it unless it states it is made from 100% cream (Santa Clara will be a safe bet)
Raspados (shaved ice with fruit syrups) (available anywhere is Summer)
Candied/crystallized fruits, available less and less now but you can get them at the markets and at some traditional candy stores in the small towns, usually sold by street vendors with baskets (lemons stuffed with coconut, figs, candied pumpkin, crystallized oranges, etc.)

Hope if you are a celiac and wanted to visit Mexico, the wide array of available food has tempted you more!
BTW, tequila is GF ;-)]

First food in a new place, food as comfort

18 Jan

Dear Rita,

I arrived in Mexico City at 6:30AM this morning.  I am lacking creativity or enthusiasm in my writing due to being quite sleepy.

My first day of adventures turned into my first trip to the grocery store.

I am really excited to eat many avocados, however was surprised to find they are not quite ripe.

I stocked up on some food, but cooked my go-to Gluten-Free-Friendly, when-you’re-in-a-hurry meal:

Corn Tortillas with egg, greens, and cheese!

-The corn tortillas I got look super fresh and they have Nopales in them!

-The cheese is a salty and crumbly cotija I think

-The eggs have the bright yellow yolks like eggs at Hidden Villa

-I got some super-spicy arugala too

Basically you just make an open-faced sanwich with all the ingredients, topped with tons of the lettuce.

little kitchenette

almost gone

It’s nothing fancy but it really hits the spot for me when I feel unsettled and need a quick meal.

 

Best when enjoyed on a garden patio surrounded by plants :)

Fish Tacos My Way

17 Jan

Despite my love of this compact sea food treasure, I don’t know much about fish taco history or its origins. I’ve enjoyed many a fish taco in Los Angeles, at taco trucks, mexican food stands and restaurants (most frequently at Senor Fish in Eagle Rock outside of Occidental College), but in Wisconsin of all places, a chicana  once checked me at a festival for wanting to grub on some “made up Mexican food” at the fish taco stand. Apparently she believes that this form of taco merits poser status, created only to please gringo sensibilities? Detracts nothing from its deliciousness to me…Although I have a rather uninformed understanding that tacos and burritos originated on the border, other sources say that fish tacos come from the Baja region of Mexico for salt-water fish or from the lakes that once completely surrounded Mexico City during pre-colonization times for fresh water fish.

In my unapologetic food adventure from last Friday night, all this matters not. I did not follow a recipe – I just made this up.

First Steps: Lots of Chopping, Mixing and Blending

Because the fish and tortillas must be hot when served, they come last – first, the salsa and other toppings are prepared while drinking a good lager. My drink of choice while preparing this meal: Brooklyn Lager. Bought three cases of it at ridiculously low cost so that’s actually all I’ve been drinking lately…nothing special about it tonight.

I always prepare salsa first since I believe that the longer it marinades, the better. In a food processor too small for any of my needs, I threw in:

3/4 inch of a serrano pepper (could have used more though)
1 1/2 tomato
1/4 cup red onion
1/4 bunch of cilantro
Juice from 1 lemon 
Lots of salt

All of the above should be altered to your taste – I like a lot of lemon and salt, but that’s just because I’ve been  eating raw, whole lemons with salt on them since I was 5 years old. I’ve not only scorched my taste buds into needed these ingredients in excess, but I’m sure I’ve eaten away most of the enamel off my teeth. Refridgerate mixture until ready to serve.

Next, shred some cabbage. You better have some alternative plan for your left over cabbage (e.g. cold slaw, sauerkraut, solyanka), since a little shredding goes a long way. I don’t peel off the leaves – instead I cut into the cabbage head and slice off maybe a quarter of it, leaving it rounded. I put it on its flat side and make 1/8 inch semicircles good for taco stuffing. Then I wash it.

Now, although you have a good salsa at this point, I always like a little creamy sauce to go with it. A little more fat isn’t going to hurt you right? It’s fish taco night. Let loose. Mix together:

Juice from 1/2 a lemon or lime (at least! maybe more…)
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp mayonnaise
Big pinch of cayenne pepper
Couple pinches of cumin 
A little salt maybe…excuse my obsession.

Whisk away until combined and not too viscous. You want it a little runny so it can be somewhat drizzled over a taco. If you like it thicker like I sometimes do, you can put it on the taco first when assembling so that the following ingredients stick to the tortilla well. Mmmmm…so what I’m saying is add lemon as necessary.

Now if you have some extra lime or lemon, you can chop an avocado up next. Sprinkle some lemon juice (and salt, if blood pressure isn’t a concern…) over it to prevent browning and oxidation while you prepare the fish and tortillas. If no lemon, do it last. Go ahead and get the radishes washed and sliced up too while you are at it. I don’t really care for them unless pickled, but some folks (ahem…my partner…) do.

Business Time: Battering and Frying the Fish, Heating the Tortillas

I’ve fried up fish several ways, and often times the delicate meat of this aquatic animal is too prone to flaking and sticking to the pan to produce any decent outcome. However, I’ve worked through a battering method that has proven to strengthen the cuts of fish I’ve used, in addition to adding flavor. Although I’ve heard tilapia has a tendency to come out a little fishy, that’s what I most often use since I can get it cheap and in bulk, frozen packs at Aldis. I haven’t had a problem with fishiness yet. One day, I’m sure I will be able to afford to purchase my goods at a bougie fishmonger who can help me select the animal most suited for my needs. Until then, frozen tilapia it is. Ok, fish batter includes:

1 egg
1 cup flower
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp oregano
2 tsp cayenne pepper
some salt

Side note: all proportions above are an estimation on my part.

In one dish large enough to lay one filet flat, crack and beat the egg until mixed well. In another dish of similar size, combine the rest of the dry ingredients.  After the oil (canola) is hot in your pan (on medium to medium low heat), get both sides of a couple fillets drenched in the egg and hold them upright over the dish to let excess egg drip off before coating both sides of the fillets in the flour mixture. Place in oil and check on them in 3-4 minutes. At some point in the frying, you may have to reduce the temperature depending on your pan and how it distributes heat. While that first side is browning, get two other fillets ready and coated in egg and then the flour-spice mixture.

When the first side is golden brown or colored to your liking, gently flip your fish and cook the other side. Again, check on that in another 3-4 minutes and when it is golden brown, remove from pan and fry up you other fillets, placing cooked fillets on a plate with a couple sheets of paper towel and tented with foil to keep warm. Repeat all these steps for frying until all your fillers have had a go in the pan. You will probably have to add more oil the more you fry since the fish and batter mixture absorb a good amount of the oil.

If you have time in between frying you can start warming up your corn tortillas. I like to heat them up directly on the stove top, no pan, no oil, over low heat for 1-2 minutes each side, but there are other options. If I am short on stove top space, I sometimes roll them up in a moistened paper towel and microwave them for 10-15 seconds. The paper towel keeps them moist and you can do more than one at a time. Excellent time saver. Place them in foil or a tortilla warmer so that they keep toasty.

Taco Assembly: Do what you feel

Here is where you can just go crazy. Lay out your spread (as illustrated in the photo at the top of this entry), and get your goods in your tortilla! Aside from the radishes, I put it all in. Oh, and did I mention more lime on top of it all?

Enjoy!

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