Saturday, 29 March 2014

Spicy Blackened Fish Tacos

So, it turns out 'Fish Tacos' were almost my nemesis!

Here we go, the saga of the fish taco, and other things. You can scroll past my bletherings to the recipe at the bottom, which I highly recommend now I'm happy with it!

This serves four people, calories per serving are as follows:

For the blackened salmon - 192 calories
2 'mini' flour tortillas - 174*
1 regular corn tortilla - 123*
Coriander (cilantro) and lime 'crema' - 21
Onions - 6
Roasted tomato, chipotle and jalapeno salsa - 33
Optional chayote/courgette (I've made it with both, and both are delicious in this!) salsa/slaw - 18

Total calories per serving: with one regular corn tortilla - 393 calories; with two 'mini' flour tortillas (as pictured) - 444 calories

*Different brands of tortillas will have different calorific values, which is why I've separated all of the different components of this dish, so you can work out the overall value of your meal if your tortillas are different to the ones I use.

OK, maybe a little dramatic, but I guess I'm lucky in that I very rarely have 'food fails' - namely because I taste as I go along, and don't bake very often if I can help it (baking = science!!!). Tasting as you go along is what I think is the most fundamental thing about cooking. If you take chillies out of the equation, "Too salty", or "Bland", I'm guessing, are probably the most common criticism of dishes (beyond the obvious "Burnt" and "Under-cooked" etc.). I was 100% confident about my 'seasoning skills' up until last week - I actually made a point of specifying the exact amount of salt that I felt perfected a dish (to avoid said 'too salty'/'bland' comments, because most recipes don't specify an actual amount, so I felt like I'd gone the extra mile), and after almost a year of publishing my own recipes, with a 100% success rate in terms of the flavour of the dishes for those who followed my recipes to the letter, I thought I'd cracked it. I think that salt is the make-or-break part of any dish and I have my own little 'rules-of-thumb' about how much to add to wet and dry dishes, which so far had produced culinary happiness amongst those who had commented on recipes they'd cooked.

And then a friend of mine cooked one of the more challenging recipes I have. And found it was too salty. Turns out said friend doesn't add salt to cooking, partly because they have very small children, but followed my recipe (almost) to the letter. So a teaspoon of salt in a meal for six, on top of 100ml of beef stock, and a couple of slices of bacon in the mix was too much for their palate, salt-wise. It might be perfect for you and I, and 99% of the other people who cook my recipes, but it did highlight the fact that I'd become complacent about how I wrote my recipes, and come to assume that my palate suited everyone else's and that everyone tasted as they went along, and added salt to taste. Ironically, I remember when my children were little, and I was weaning them, and also for the first few years of their lives - I didn't cook with salt either. I made all sorts of exciting food, from Moroccan tagines (before they were even one year old), to Southern Indian curries - I just left out the salt and the chillies for the children. As a consequence, when I got the extremely rare opportunity to eat out, I found the food rather salty. Which I remembered when they spoke to me about it. So I went back and altered the method in the recipe to take account of this, as well as being more aware of it in current and future recipes.

So anyway, enough of my bletherings, you're after a decent fish taco recipe! I think my point was that the first fish taco was a total fail for me - I followed someone else's tips to marinade and cook the fish (which didn't involve salt, when grilled - and I assumed there was a reason for this, like the fish not losing moisture - and salted the fish after grilling it. Turns out I should have gone with my own instincts, and added salt to the marinade, so it permeated the flesh, taking the flavour of the marinade with it. But you live and learn! Also, I initially used white fish, and flaked it into chunks before putting it in the taco, which for me really didn't work because when it was flaked and put into a cold wrap with cold salsas, and cold cabbage it cooled down pretty quickly - and I hate cold, cooked white fish. Especially when it tastes bland (cardinal sin!) - yuck! No good! So I thought around it, and with the help of a few friends' suggestions together with my own thoughts, came up with a tasty taco with hot fish!). This one, I'm seriously happy with - fish tacos seems to be quite alien to my fellow Englishmen, from comments - so if you're feeling adventurous, and want to start off with something really tasty, I'd urge you to give this a try! I've put the method next to each part of the recipe, as hopefully it's less complicated that way, rather than scrolling up and down! I'd advise preparing all of the cold stuff and having your wraps ready to go before you put the fish on.


  • 4 small salmon fillets, approximately 80g each, cut in half through the middle (giving you 8 thick 'slices' of salmon fillet, about 1.5cm thick (or just buy a 320g piece of skinned salmon fillet, and slice it up yourself! Or even substitute your favourite fish, and reduce the calories accordingly) [630]
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or hot chilli powder) [3]
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder/granules (not garlic salt!) [3]
  • 1 tsp onion powder/granules [7]
  • 1 jalapeno chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped [5]
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt (or to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper [1]
  • 2 tbsp lime juice/juice of one lime [6]
  • 15g butter (1 tbsp - or just throw in a knob of butter if you're not counting calories!) [111]
N.B. You could cheat on the ingredients for the fish if you're in a rush, and just give your salmon a shake of some Cajun seasoning if you haven't got all of these - I won't tell!

  • 8 'mini'tortillas (taco size - e.g. Old El Paso, 87 calories each - or you could use 4 large tortillas, check the calories if you're counting) [696]
  • 4 regular sized corn tortillas (if cooking gluten free, check the ingredients as many contain wheat flour) [492]
To serve
  • 150g Napa cabbage (chinese leaf/cabbage, or substitute lettuce), thick central stalk removed, and shredded (about 10 leaves) [18]
  • Onions, roasted tomato salsa, and chayote/courgette salsa/slaw to serve (see below, with methods for each part, which can all be prepared several hours, or even a day ahead if desired).

Mix all the spices and powders together with the seasoning, chilli and lime juice, in a shallow dish, and coat the salmon with it. Set aside while you assemble all the other ingredients, then warm your tortillas according to instructions (the ones I use need wrapping in foil, then warming in the oven - gas mark 4 / 180C / 350F - for ten minutes).

Once you have all of your toppings and fillings (bar the salmon!) made/assembled, set them out ready for wrapping. Because I like my hot filling to *be* hot, I actually like to scatter on my shredded cabbage and salsas etc. over the tortilla all ready to park my fish on as soon as it's cooked, so I can roll it up and eat it as soon as the fish comes out of the pan. But do it whatever way suits you and yours!

So, as soon as you're ready for that piping hot spicy fish... put a heavy-based non-stick pan onto the heat, until it's hot enough to sizzle when you flick a few drops of water on it. Have your salmon 'slices' to hand, throw in the butter and very quickly swirl it around the pan to coat, then immediately add the fish (you don't want the butter to start burning before your add the fish). If your fish is the same thickness as mine (about 1.5cm) it's going to need turning pretty quickly, within a minute or so if (like me) you don't like it over-cooked. Gently flip it, and cook the other side (this is blackened fish, so expect some caramelisation/crust when you turn it! If it has a little too much for your taste, you can just flick some of it off with a knife while the other side is cooking). Once it's cooked to your liking, place in your tortilla with your fillings/toppings, roll and enjoy!

For the onions
  • 1 small red onion (60g) [25]
  • 2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar [negligible consumed]

Slice the onions finely, and put in a small dish, just covered with red wine vinegar. Leave for about 30 minutes, then drain and serve (you could also keep a stock of these in the fridge for several days at a time, if you're a fan!). 6 calories per serving. These *really* made the taco, so be sure to include them!

For the simple coriander and lime 'crema'
  • 150g Greek yoghurt (e.g. 'Total' brand - your choice of fat free/regular, or use sour cream if you're not counting calories) [86/144]
  • Juice of 1 lime / 2 tbsp (or to taste) [7]
  • Handful of chopped coriander leaves [2]
  • Salt to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together, and taste for seasoning - you won't need too much in the way of salt, if at all, as the other elements of the tacos contain salt. Contains 24/38 calories per serving (depending on whether fat free, or regular Greek yoghurt).

For the roasted tomato salsa with chipotle and jalapeno chillies
(or just use a jar of salsa, if you don't want to make your own!)

  • 4 vine (or plum) tomatoes (425g before skinning/de-coring) [80]
  • 1 tsp oil [45]
  • 1 small red onion, cut into small dice (80g) [33]
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped [18]
  • 1 fresh jalapeño chilli (or 1 large green or red chilli will be fine), deseeded and finely chopped [7]
  • 1 tbsp chipotle chilli sauce, or more/less to taste (Heinz do a version, which has no artificial nasties in it, and is widely available in the UK in supermarkets) [6]
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste [1]
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped (with a few leaves reserved to garnish) [5]

Method for tomato salsa
Is here - serves six, so you will have a little left over - so 33 calories per portion. This is well worth making, and will also keep for a few days if you want to make extra and keep it!

For the chayote and lime salsa or slaw - optional!(or courgette, as in the taco photo above - works great!)
  • 1 chayote (or courgette / zucchini - courgette works best cut into small dice as a salsa, rather than julienned - we had it as salsa with ours as you can see in the photo above), peeled and de-stoned, either cut into into 1/2 to 1cm dice for salsa, or cut into fine julienne for slaw (200g) [38]
  • 1/2 small green pepper, cut into dice for salsa, or finely sliced for slaw (40g) [10]
  • 1 green (spring) onion, finely sliced [4]
  • Juice of 1 lime (2 tbsp / 30ml) [6]
  • 1/2 tsp each of salt and sugar [8]
  • Small handful coriander leaves, chopped [3]
  • 1 tsp chipotle chilli sauce (Heinz do a version which is widely available in the UK, if you're struggling to find any, and it's gluten free) [2]

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, leave for flavours to mingle for half an hour or more (keep chilled) and serve. Will keep in the fridge for a few days. Drain before serving, unless you want a soggy taco! 18 calories per serving.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Recipes

If you liked this recipe, you may also like these...