When we were down in Phoenix for the Super Bowl a few weeks ago, a friend of a friend invited us to a cocktail party, which was being thrown by a big sports agency. I am not very good at identifying famous athletes, but I can tell you that many of the men wheeling and dealing were three times my size and wore enough "bling" to make Liberace look cheap. Will it be embarrassing for my husband if I tell you that the only famous person who I recognized at the party was not an athlete, but the guy who played "Victor" on Desperate Housewives? I’m not sure why he was there, but at least I was happy to see him.
Because it was an afternoon party, there wasn’t a large amount of food offered, but what the party lacked in culinary quantity, it definitely made up for in quality. Someone footing the bill for this shin-dig was obviously a huge fan of the Baja fish tacos that San Diego has become famous for, because caterers from the Chargers’ home town had been flown in for the sole purpose of preparing this special dish for the party guests. In my opinion, worth every penny. The char-grilled snapper tacos with the mango salsa and a hint of lime have been in the back of my mind ever since, and I couldn’t wait to recreate them at home.
If I am planning a recipe that really centers around fish, then I will usually spring for the extra cost of buying it at Whole Foods. Their fish counter is unbelievable and everything looks fresh each time I am there. Plus, I just don’t want to take my chances where fish is concerned, and the quality at the regular grocery store can be, um, questionable at times. When I went to Whole Foods yesterday, I was ecstatic to see that they had gotten in some red snapper just that morning. As an added bonus, they were having a sale on fresh ripe mangoes in the produce section, perfect for the salsa. It was obvious that this dinner was just meant to be…..Here are some suggestion for fantastic fish tacos:
- Mangoes can be a bit tricky to slice and chop, due to the awkward flat oblong shape of their pits. Without peeling the mango, hold it with one hand on its end, stem-side down. With a sharp knife in your other hand, cut from the top of the mango down one side of the pit. Repeat with the other side. You will end up with three pieces-two halves and a middle section that includes the pit. Take a mango half, and use a knife to make lengthwise and crosswise cuts in it, forming a grid. Try not to cut through the peel. Invert the peel, so that the segments stick out a bit, and use a small paring knife to cut out the segments into a bowl. Repeat with the other half. For the piece with the pit, lay it flat on the cutting board and use the paring knife to cut out the pit and remove the peel.
- Pineapples, papaya, and even oranges can be substituted for the chopped mango in this recipe.
- If you can’t find snapper, any other firm white fish would work well with this recipe. You could also make chicken tacos using the same marinade and toppings. I would recommend grilling the marinated chicken as opposed to pan searing. Pan searing is a better option for fish similar to snapper as flakier fish tends to fall through the grates of the grill.
- If you don’t have Ancho chili powder, then just use regular chili powder.
- For larger tacos, I suggest using whole wheat or one of the flavored and colored flour tortillas (such as the green spinach or red tomato tortillas).
Fish Tacos with Mango-Coconut Salsa
1 1/2 cups chopped, peeled mango
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons shredded coconut, toasted
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeno pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound red snapper fillets
1/4 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 yellow corn tortillas (6-inch)
Finely shredded red cabbage (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
Lime wedges for garnish (optional)
Prepare salsa: In a medium bowl, combine the mango, red pepper, onion, cilantro, coconut, lime juice, and jalapeno. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Place the fish in the shallow dish. Drizzle with the lime juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes, turning fish occasionally.
Remove the fish from the marinade and discard the marinade. Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the fish with the chili powder, salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Break the fish into chunks.
Heat the tortillas by wrapping in foil and placing in a warm oven for 5-10 minutes. Divide the fish evenly among the tortillas. Top each with some of the salsa, shredded cabbage, and sour cream if desired. Garnish with a lime wedge and serve.