Fish Tacos Sans Cilantro
Berkshire native Alana Chernila, local politician, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), dispenses change and cooking ideas to readers and friends. She shares her peak-of-the-season recipes with Rural Intelligence to help us make the most of what’s growing in our region. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has just announced that she has a new one in the works: Meals from the Homemade Pantry (Clarkson Potter), due out in 2014.
It is difficult to talk about fish tacos without also wanting to eat fish tacos immediately. I mean that, and I know you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t have a certain future of lime juice dripping down your arm within hours of reading this, you are going to be unhappy. And if you’re unhappy, I’m unhappy, because for better or worse, I’m like that. So get ready.
However, you might have a little bit less respect for me by the end of this. Today I’m going to share something that might disappoint you, that might make you think that I’m a little less of a… oh what’s that word? Foodie.
Okay, let’s have it out then.
I hate cilantro.
I’m one of those people they write about in The New York Times, the ones who think cilantro tastes like soap. Only, to be totally honest, soap feels like an understatement. I’d happily eat soap if you gave me a choice between the two. People ask me if it’s an allergy, and sometimes I say yes. Does it count as an allergy if being in the same room with it makes me want to scream, clench my face together, and hope I’m in some horrible dream I’ll wake up from any second? Does it count that when I eat it accidentally, the taste stays in my mouth for days?
For those of you who are baffled by cilantro haters, I thought I’d answer a few commonly asked questions, a cilantro haters FAQ, if you will.
1. Is this cilantro hating really a genetic trait, or is it cultural?
I really don’t know. I’ve heard that there is a cilantro hating gene, like the asparagus pee gene, and I’ve also heard that in cultures where children eat cilantro from a young age, there are no cilantro haters. I’ve also heard that Northern Italy houses more cilantro haters than any other region, but I don’t have an ounce of Northern Italian blood in my body.
2. How did you figure out that you were a cilantro hater?
Twelve years old. Restaurant with mom. Salmon with salsa fresca. Horrible.
3. But don’t you claim to love Mexican food? What’s the point without cilantro? How on earth do you eat fish tacos?
I thought you’d never ask.
Fish Tacos (that have no need for cilantro)
1 pound white fish (halibut, snapper, scrod, tilapia–really whatever you can afford)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 small red cabbage, shredded
8 corn or small wheat tortillas
1 peach, pitted and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 small hot pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Marinate the cabbage: Combine the cabbage, a pinch of salt, and the juice of one lime. Toss to coat, and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour.
Make the peach salsa: Combine the peach, hot pepper, red onion, parsley, and salt to taste. Give it a quick squeeze of lime, and let sit for at least 20 minutes.
Prepare the fish: Combine the oregano, chili flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Rub it all over the fish. Drizzle with olive oil, and squeeze half a lime over the fish. Grill or broil for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until opaque.
Prepare the guacamole: Mash the avocado with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the juice of half a lime. Add additional salt to taste.
Warm the tortillas for a moment, one at a time, in a cast iron skillet or in the warm oven.
Serve together with lime slices on the side. Make a mess!
Reprinted with permission from Eatingfromthegroundup.com. All text and photos copyright 2008-13 by Alana Chernila.