Tag Archives: cotija

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

The same friend who gives us the peppers gave us a package of 16 perch fillets, and I have a preference for fried fish when we have it, so I thought this would be a good time to use my favorite beer batter recipe, one I usually use for onion rings. It is the world’s simplest batter with only two ingredients—beer and flour, equal amounts. It makes the crispiest, lightest onion rings you ever had and they stay crispy in a slow oven (200° F) while you fry the rest. It seems to me a lot like a tempura batter in texture, light and crispy. I really don’t like an egg-heavy batter that ends up being like a deep-fried pancake around the food you are trying to highlight.

Today the batter goes on perch, and the perch go into tortillas with crispy lettuce and avocado and a zippy sauce.

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

  • Servings: 1-2 pcs fish per taco
  • Difficulty: easy
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Beer Batter

Beer

Flour

  • Mix equal parts beer and all-purpose flour—I used one cup of each. The batter will be slightly lumpy, but don’t worry about it.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on kitchen counter for three hours. I think I read once that this breaks down the gluten in the batter, but I’m not sure why this is good for the final result.

Fried Fish

Preheat vegetable oil in deep fryer or deep pot to 350°

  • Put the fish in the batter—I had 16 perch fillets—and take out about 4 pieces at a time to deep fry until golden, about 4-5 minutes. It helps to immediately lift them with a long fork so they start frying before sticking to the basket.
  • Remove with tongs and drain on paper towels while frying the rest. Put plate of fish in oven at 200° F to keep warm while frying the rest.
  • Salt the fish, or onion rings if that’s what you’re making, after frying.

Assembling Tacos

Fried fish fillets

Small corn or fajita-sized flour tortillas

Lettuce

Avocado slices or prepared guacamole

Cheese: queso fresco or cotija, crumbled

Sauce with a kick: I combined about 2 tablespoons homemade enchilada sauce with 1/3 cup mayonnaise

Do I really need to tell you how to assemble food in a tortilla?

Assembling food well in a tortilla is more about figuring out the order that will stay in the tortilla through eating the whole thing than it is about how pretty it looks in your blog photo. I have found that the prettiest constructions fall apart immediately. I have since become a firm believer in spreading whatever sauce you use on the tortilla first, even under the lettuce. Speaking of lettuce, I recommend that you fall in love with whole lettuce leaves, whether Bibb, romaine, or iceberg, because shredded lettuce is just going to fall out everywhere. Stick that lettuce leaf to the sauce, then add the meat piece or pieces and arrange any toppings, like avocado and cheese, sparingly. If you can lay slices of avocado or tomato or pepper next to the meat instead of on top, that will help in folding up the tortilla.

This particular recipe makes use of small tortillas that are simply folded in half and not rolled like burritos, so something may fall out and you just have to come to terms with it.

The Predominately White Meal

This post contains recipes for white beans, chicken wraps, and Anaheim pepper salsa.

I know that the reasons for eating a meal of color are more serious than, say, not wearing white after Labor Day, but I’m bucking the nutritionists today and serving up a predominately one-color meal. Generally you look in the fridge and pantry to see what you have and today it was all white—chicken breasts, sour cream, Monterrey Jack cheese, cotija cheese, white beans. On most days, we put together a meal by looking for foods of other colors—oranges, reds, greens—not only to add color variety, but a variety of nutrients. I’m cool with that, but today, I’m just going off the beaten path and seeing what happens with a one-color meal.

As it turned out, I couldn’t avoid a little green, and then a little red, but they did show up nicely against the rest of the pale palette. It would have been neat to find white lettuce and white salsa, but the stuff they call white salsa is either a mayo-based or bechamel sauce and not that appealing to me for a chicken wrap.

Chicken Wraps with Anaheim Pepper Salsa and White Beans

  • Servings: 2-4 or 10 wraps
  • Difficulty: moderate
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I’ve rated this recipe as moderate, only because cooks unfamiliar with cooking dried beans might find that step complicated.

White Beans

1/2 lb great northern beans

3-4 cups water

chicken bouillon or stock

2 cloves garlic, grated

salt & pepper to taste

1 small can (4.5 oz) chopped chiles

Cook the beans using the quick soak method:

  1. Rinse and sort beans. You’re looking for any stray stones or dirt in the beans. It has been a long time since I have found either of these, but it is possible, and you don’t want to bite into a stone.
  2. Add beans to saucepan with 3 cups water. Do not add any seasonings yet, especially salt, which can toughen beans and make them difficult to cook through. Bring the beans to a boil, then turn off heat and cover for 1 hour.
  3. Bring beans to a second boil, then simmer, covered for 1 hour. Pay attention during the last half hour to whether too much water has cooked away. This could depend on a number of factors, such as whether you have a true simmer burner or one that is a little higher.
  4. The beans are just about always cooked enough before the second hour is up so that you can add the rest of the ingredients during the last half hour. Check beans for doneness, if you are concerned, by spooning out a few and blowing on them in the spoon. If the bean skin curls up and breaks, they are done.
  5. Add bouillon per directions for 3 cups of water (I use Better Than Bouillon® chicken base) or drain the beans and replace the water with chicken stock. Some people say that replacing the cooking water cuts down on post-eating gas. You’ve been warned.
  6. Add the garlic, seasonings, and can of chilies and simmer for another half hour, or longer if you want to cook down the liquid. I like the beans to have a little sauce and not be too dry.

Chicken Wraps

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4-8 8″ flour tortillas, warmed (I did not pick up white ones to carry the meal theme further 😦 )

1 head Bibb lettuce or any soft lettuce with large leaves

1 cup grated or crumbled Cotija cheese

1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

Red pepper salsa (below)

This is a quick dish that is all construction after cooking the chicken. You could even make it with chicken pulled from a rotisserie chicken from your grocer. I like to cook chicken breast for wraps in large pieces and then slice when putting them together. Cooking them this way prevents overcooking and retains juiciness. Still, the whole breasts can be pretty thick, so I like to first slice them horizontally through to make two thinner pieces—that left me with four pieces to cook from the two breasts. I sauteed them over high heat in a little olive oil until just done, which I determine by slightly pressing on the thickest end until it just starts to not give. Then I let them rest on a cutting board for about 5 minutes before slicing.

  1. Slice the cooked chicken breasts in in thin strips.
  2. Mix the two cheeses together—easier than adding them separately to the wrap.
  3. Line a tortilla with a large leaf of lettuce, add chicken, cheese, salsa and sour cream. Roll up with the bottom end folded in and the top open.

Anaheim Pepper Salsa

This turned out to be a happy accident from ingredients I had around the house. I had about 4-5 roasted, peeled, and seeded red Anaheim peppers in the freezer and wondered how a predominately pepper salsa would taste, instead of the typical tomato salsa. Very good.

Place the following ingredients in a food processor and blend to a salsa consistency:

4-5 Anaheim peppers, peeled and seeded

1 medium garden tomato

2 cloves garlic

1/2 medium white onion

2 tablespoons dried parsley

cumin and dried oregano to taste

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

salt & pepper to taste—I think I used at least 1 teaspoon of salt, maybe a little more

The salsa seemed a little flat, even with salt, so I added 1-2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, which was just the right note of brightness to compliment the peppers. I did not use cilantro, not only because I didn’t have any, but because I don’t really like it. In this salsa, parsley was the right taste without being overpowering like cilantro. My peppers, which had ripened to red, were a little zippy, but not with that kind of heat that overpowers flavor. I’m definitely putting pepper salsa in my list of favorites. I ended up with enough to put about 1 1/2 cups in the freezer in three containers.