let’s eat | skillet-charred fish tacos

For this edition of my foray into foods I skipped the random finger-point method and actually chose which recipe to conquer. And the chosen recipe was…..DSC_0606 (2)

I’ve been craving tacos lately so it was an easy choice to make. Little did I know how adventurous they would make me! For you see, these are NOT your every day fish tacos. NO! They are so much more.

I began with the sauce that you see our gal Chrissy lovingly pouring on her taco. It’s called Pepper’s Hot Green Pepper Sauce. Now, if you know anything about me you know that spicy things and I are not on the best terms. So obviously this sauce scared the crap out of me. Just look at the ingredients!

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Serrano peppers! And 4 of them! It made me sweat just thinking about them. But I was determined to do this the right way and make the scary sauce. Luckily I have a roommate with a great love of spicy things so even if I couldn’t handle the heat, it wouldn’t totally go to waste.DSC_0608 (2)

Sadly, in my quest for Serrano peppers I was only able to find jalapenos. Knowing that I have avoided these peps all my life because of their spice, I figured they’d still do the job. I also decided on only using 3 peppers instead of 4 and maaaaaaybe I removed the seeds. Baby steps people!

I blended up my peppers with my garlic gloves and as I poured the mixture into a bowl the smell of this concoction cleared my sinuses better than any cold medicine available. I was obviously terrified. Next I stirred in the brown sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice. This was my first experience with fish sauce and let me say, I still have no idea what it’s about. But I used it and I look forward to discovering more about it! Once my  mixture was stirred well it was the moment of truth. I had to taste the stuff. I dipped my pinky into the bowl and quickly put it in my mouth. Rip off the band-aid right?? Much to my shock, it was good! Yes there was definitely some heat there but it wasn’t burn your tongue off heat. This was different. This was enjoyable. I patted myself on the back a little. DSC_0610 (3)

Next on the list….the Sriracha Mayo. If you’re keeping score this is now 2 spicy elements to this dish. What was I thinking??? I told myself that luckily I had control of how much Sriracha actually made it into the mix so I would just start small and see how far I could go.DSC_0612 (2)I started out with less that 1/4 cup and gave it a taste. Not bad. Not bad at all. I added a couple long squirts more and OH MAN. We had spice. Nothing too painful though. I was pushing the boundaries of my taste-buds for sure.

Onto the fish portion of the fish taco! I went with Tilapia because it’s delish! Duh. I’ve only cooked fish like, 2 other times, so going into this I wasn’t totally in the dark, but it’s fish! You can’t really come back from a poorly cooked fish. I got my fillets and began making the rub for them. Ingredient #1…Chili Powder. SAY WHAAAAAT???DSC_0614 (2)

That is 3, count them, 3 spicy flavors in this dish. Clearly I’m trying to never enjoy a meal again or something. The terror was real people. I put all my spices in a bowl with the owl and stirred them together.DSC_0615 (2)

The result was the scariest looking substance I’ve ever seen. It was like spicy tar. I can never un-see it. And I was supposed to be putting this on my fresh, heavenly white, Tilapia?? The horror!! But, I vowed I would do as Chrissy says. She is the expert here. So I slathered my fish. DSC_0617 (3)

Now, I did have a small moment of “Oh crap, can I still cook this” when the recipe called for a cast-iron skillet. I do not have a cast-iron skillet. I have a frying pan. Can I not make these hell fish on a regular frying pan???? Lucky for me, I keep a chef on speed-text for these very situations.

I NEED A PRO TIP!!! If a recipe calls for a cast-iron skillet is it the end of the world if I don’t use one??? Will a frying pan still do?

Frying pan will do just fine.

Thank goodness.

It pays to know people.

So a frying I went. 3 minutes per side, as Chrissy said, and my fishies were looking just perfect. But how did they taste?? I took a deep breathe and had a piece. Spice? What spice?? These had tons of flavor but no spice! It was a Christmas miracle! I would be eating fish tacos for dinner afterall!

While my fish cooled I went to cutting up my toppings. I may or may not have cheated just a smidge by buying pre-shredded red cabbage. I deserved it after all these scary spicy things! Plus I did attempt to julienne radishes. It wasn’t pretty but I do have all my fingers. Not to self: buy a mandolin.

And since presentation is everything…voila!DSC_0620 (2)

Quite the colorful spread wouldn’t you say?

Lastly came the part that I have no trouble with at all…building the tacos! This is where my talents really shine. Choosing just the right amount of meat to veggie ratio is a keen skill that I feel like I’ve mastered over my 29 years. And with so many options, the possibilities were endless.DSC_0622 (2)DSC_0624 (2)

The truest sign of a successful meal…the filthy napkin at the end. I can’t wait to have more of this tomorrow as well as make it again in the future. It was so simple and flavorful. A winning combination. The only thing I would change for next time is having them with a margarita!

Confession: There was a big part of me that was worried about the sauces being way out of my heat league….so I had backups. Thanks Paul, but I didn’t need you afterall.DSC_0621 (3)


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