Can we have a little chat about tacos? It can be rather difficult for me to find great tacos where I live. So I either have to make them myself, or go to where the tacos are. When Kelly and I were planning our California beach trip, I told her my only requirement was that I needed tacos every day. And that wish pretty much came true. On our way from the airport to our Airbnb house, one of the first stops we made was for tacos. By the way, Kelly is kind of the Queen of Tacos in my opinion. This girl makes the most delicious, creative tacos I’ve ever seen. (Seriously – go check out her recipes. So.dang.creative.) During our trip, we teamed up with Good Foods Group to make some street tacos during our beach stay. Kelly made some Roasted Butternut Chickpea Greek Tacos topped with Good Foods’ Feta Cucumber Dip. Holy yum! And I made Fish Tacos with Good Foods’ Chunky Guacamole and Homemade Mango Salsa and a very simple coleslaw. We ate like queens! It was so funny, too, to hear the comments beach goers made as they passed us taking pics of our tacos. I think a love for tacos could be a great uniting force in this world. :)
Making fish tacos is still kind of new to me. Because, as I’ve mentioned a gazillion times to anyone who will listen, I live in land-locked state, it can be a little more difficult to find really good quality fish. And if it’s not primo fish, I kinda don’t want to waste my time. That’s kind of important to me anyway, but especially when it comes to making tacos. I don’t mind battered fish tacos, but I wanted to take this in a slightly “lighter” direction. Kelly and I ran over to Whole Foods to check out the fish that was available. I was ECSTATIC to see that they had fresh Opah – FROM HAWAII. My very favorite fish. We ate it over and over when we were in Hawaii last year. So already I took that as a good sign that my tacos were going to be pretty fantastic.
The key to good fish tacos is using a fish that holds up a little bit. You don’t want one that is so delicate it falls apart everywhere. Opah is a firm, white fish that is incredibly flavorful due to its higher fat content. Don’t let those higher fat fish scare you! A lot of the fat is released during cooking, so you don’t need much oil in the pan. But as with everything FAT = FLAVOR. So you want to make sure you choose a fish that is flavorful and firm enough to stand up to the toppings because that’s the other extremely important part of any taco. It’s all about creating a good balance between flavors and textures. Dang, I love a good taco.
Opah can’t be found everywhere, I know, so some great substitutions are cod, halibut, mahi-mahi, red snapper, or any other firm white fish. For my marinade, I went with an old favorite that I often use for chicken – cilantro, parsley, garlic, and citrus juice. When marinating fish, you’ve got to be careful not to let it sit for too long, or it will “cook” the fish. About 5 minutes is all it needs. The sugars in the citrus juice help the fish caramelize which adds even more flavor. It truly is all about the flavor. Luckily, if you start with great fish, you don’t need much else. This fish turned out perfectly cooked with golden brown edges and a nice little tang from the citrus.
By the way, Kelly expertly styled these fish tacos in the photo above. See? She’s the Queen of Tacos!
Now, let’s talk toppings! I love toppings.
I’m sort of having this little love affair with coleslaw right now. For most of my life I have turned it away – mostly because I hate mayo – but since I started making my own, it’s really turned things around. So the slaw bases were covered, but I couldn’t stop there. I used Good Foods’ Chunky Guac and it is HANDS DOWN the best guac on the market. Look, I’ve tried my fair share, and I’ll even be 100% honest and say that I was worried this guac was just going to be like every other guac out there – either too bland, too garlicky, or just plain strange tasting. This guac is GOOOOOD. It’s got big chunk of avocados, just like you’d expect, plus red ripe diced tomatoes, garlic, onion, and cilantro. Did I mention how good this guac is yet? (‘Cause I just wanted to remind you…)
Confession: I bought a big pack of single serving guac cups at Costco the other day, and I’m eating like 2-3 a day, starting with breakfast every morning. I want to feel bad – like, shouldn’t I save some for the rest of my family? But it’s a “you snooze, you lose” kind of thing. Goal for this week: eat more guac. Especially if you can find Good Foods’ guac in your area. Trust me on this one, friends. TRUST ME.
Now, Kelly and I were cooking in the kitchen of a vacation rental. You know what that means? The most very basic of kitchen tools and empty cupboards. That’s not a bad thing, actually. It just means you have to be a little resourceful. I wanted to add in a few tips about cooking while traveling. In my opinion, one of the best things you can do when you’re traveling (depending on the nature of travel, naturally) is to cook where you’re staying if possible. It gives you a chance to really sample some of the local foods and take a break from restaurant fare. I mean, I love eating out when I travel, but it can get old, not to mention, expensive. Nothing beats a home cooked meal when you’re traveling…even if you make it yourself. Ha! (Please tell me I’m not the only one who packs cooking utensils in her luggage!)
Here Are Some Of My Tips For Cooking While Traveling:
-Research before you go – look into local cheeses, produce, wine, etc.
-Don’t get hung up on recipes. Let the ingredients be your guide. (I realize this seems like a contradiction on a blog post with a RECIPE, but I think you get what I’m saying.)
-Be resourceful. For example, I knew I wanted to make coleslaw, but I didn’t want to be wasteful and buy a big bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix, or even a whole cabbage. Instead, I utilized the well-stocked salad bar area of the grocery store to grab just the amount I needed of each item. The mango I used was in the refrigerated produce section all peeled, cubed, and ready to be made into delicious salsa.
-Splurge a little on something special. The fish was the perfect example of this. Seafood is pricey! Even more so if you’re buying fresh, sustainable, highest quality fish. The extra expense is worth those memories! (I remember every bite of Opah I’ve ever eaten!)
-Bring a few special cooking tools with you. Rental kitchens are notorious for dull knives. I like packing my cute, SHARP, little paring knife. It just makes cooking in a new kitchen a little easier. :)
-And lastly, have fun! For our family, checking out the local food scene is all part of the fun. Some days we enjoy eating out; others are just as enjoyable when cooked at “home.”
Don’t forget to pop over to get Kelly’s recipe for her Roasted Butternut and Chickpea Greek Tacos.
Now tell me – what your favorite thing to eat while you travel? And do you have any more tips to add to my list? ;)
Fish Tacos with Chunky Guacamole, Mango Salsa, and Simple Slaw
8-12 small corn tortillas
Simple Coleslaw (recipe follows)
Mango Salsa (recipe follows)
1 (7-ounce) tub Good Foods Group Chunky Guacamole
Lime wedges, for serving
1 1/2 pounds boneless fish, skinned and cut into 1″ cubes
1/4 cup fresh parlsey, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
3-4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 clementine
Juice of 1/2 large lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch black pepper
In a large bowl, combine parsley, cilantro, garlic, oil, citrus juices, and a good pinch sea salt and black pepper. Stir until combined. Add the cubed fish and gently toss to coat with the marinade. Let stand for about 5 minutes, but not much more than that.
In a large non-stick or cast iron skillet, heat a tiny drizzle of avocado or other high heat oil. Add the fish in an even layer with a little room between the pieces so the fish browns instead of steams. Work in batches, if necessary. Keep warm until ready to serve.
To serve – place a few cubes of the cooked fish each into the corn tortillas. Top with a spoonful of Chunky Guacamole, Mango Salsa, and Simple Coleslaw.
Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
1/2 cup fresh mango, cut into small dice
1/4 cup tomato, cut into small dice
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Sea salt, to taste
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons green onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Sea salt, to taste
Combine the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Season well with sea salt, to taste. Stir until combined. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Good Foods Group. All opinions, thoughts, and over-the-top gushing are 100% mine. I only recommend products and brands that I trust and use in my own home. Pinky promise.