Déjà vu fish tacos ride again with some tweaks
En route to Maui for my brother's wedding in the spring of 2003, a four-hour layover awaited in Los Angeles.
No worries. I had a rendezvous planned with an old newspaper buddy, who had abandoned Chicago for a job in L.A. He swung by LAX and took me to a breezy, ocean-side cafe in Venice Beach.
Feeling adventurous, I ordered the fish tacos and bit into a delectable combination of crunchy battered fish with a citrus-inspired red cabbage slaw and homemade tortillas. I downed a locally brewed beer, the weather was L.A. at its best, and I felt like a bon vivant.
Fast forward to a humid June with a depressed refrigerator, no summer camp, COVID-19 qualms about running to the grocery store, and a hungry third-grade graduate.
I stared into the depths of the freezer, and a package of frozen fish called me.
Tortillas -- a staple -- were good to go. Plus a limp lime, Hellman's mayonnaise, and some sour cream that passed the sniff test. No red cabbage or even lettuce, however.
But wait! Lurking in the back of the fridge -- were those the Brussels sprouts from Easter? And, could the remains of that sad Granny Smith apple be rejuvenated?
A quick internet search for fish taco sauce later, I mixed and tasted and voila. Fish tacos -- DuPage style and a memorable meal on the deck. I also improvised some fruit salsa with mango remains and black beans. If you don't have mango, strawberries will work. (I've also substituted lemon juice for lime.)
Package of frozen, battered fish
Flour and corn tortillas
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon of honey
½ teaspoon of chili powder
2 limes squeezed to make ½ cup of lime juice or so
1 cup of loosely grated red or green cabbage or Brussels sprouts
½ grated carrot
½ Granny Smith apple, diced small
Half a mango diced (optional)
¼ to ½ cup of black beans (optional)
8 or so cherry tomatoes
Slices of lime for serving
Cook fish according to package directions.
Heat tortillas for a few minutes on each side on the stove in a pan over medium heat. If you're lucky, they'll puff up. Keep tortillas warm wrapped in a clean dish towel in a bowl or Pyrex container.
Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, honey, chili powder, ¼ cup of lime juice. Taste and add more lime if desired.
Combine cabbage, carrots and apple and set aside
Mix the diced mango with black beans, cherry tomatoes and ¼ cup of lime juice. Taste and add more lime if needed.
Cut the warm fish pieces in half, add to tortillas. Top with the cabbage/apple, carrot slaw and sauce. Throw on some mango salsa.
Travel to the seaside town of your choice.