In Good Fish Becky Selengut presents the perils of the world's oceans as an opportunity, not a roadblock. And what a delicious opportunity it can be. She teaches us how to cook seafood most home cooks shy away from, like scallops, sardines and squid, but also helps us perfect our technique for cooking our favorites such as salmon, halibut and clams.
Selengut's writing is fun and conversational, but always instructional. Like in this recipe for halibut tacos, she gives you several indicators for doneness (time and texture), but also reminds you that the fish will continue cooking after you remove it from the heat. There are recipes in Good Fish that are more adventurous like, "Black Cod with Toasted Almond Milk, Delicata Squash, and Frizzled Leeks" and "Scallops with Tarragon Beurre Blanc," but this recipe for halibut tacos is the perfect springtime meal.
Halibut Tacos with Tequila-Lime Marinade and Red Cabbage Slaw
For the red cabbage slaw:
¾ pound red cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and grated
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ bunch cilantro leaves and stems, roughly chopped (about ¾ cup)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the tequila-lime marinade:
1 lime, first zested, then juiced (about 1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice)
2 tablespoons tequila
½ teaspoon salt
2 small jalapenos, halved, seeds and membranes removed, sliced crosswise into half rings
1 small red onion, cut into thin half moons (about 2/3 cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the halibut:
1 pound halibut fillet, skinned*
1 tablespoon high-heat vegetable oil
For the taco bar:
Flour tortillas, warmed
Beers, of course
To prepare the slaw, toss the cabbage with the salt. Place in a colander. Locate a bowl that will fit nicely into the colander, fit it with water, and set it on top of the cabbage. Set this in the sink. The weight of the bowl of water will help force water from the cabbage, concentrating its flavor.
In a large bowl, mix the grated apple with the mustard seeds, cilantro, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil. Give the cabbage a squeeze with those fancy kitchen tools of yours called "hands." Rinse the salt off the cabbage and squeeze again, getting all the liquid out. Combine the cabbage with the rest of the slaw ingredients and season to taste with salt. Set aside.
To prepare the marinade, combine all of its ingredients in a small bowl.
To prepare the halibut, place it in a large pan. Pour the marinade over the fillet and set aside for 20 minutes.
In a grill pan or sauté pan over high heat, add the vegetable oil. Add the halibut, reserving the marinade, and cook until the fish is browned on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the halibut carefully and continue cooking until the fish is thinking about flaking, but not quite yet flaking, about 8 minutes per inch of fish (measured at its thickest point). The fish will continue to cook a bit more after you take it from the heat. Transfer the fish to a platter. Add the marinade to the pan (or get out a fresh pan if you frilled the fish) and cook the marinade over high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the liquid evaporates and the jalapenos and onions are lightly charred. Then add the marinade back on top of the fish, which, by this point, shold be flaking nicely.
Set up the best taco bar you've ever seen, with warmed tortillas; bowls of sour cream, guacamole, and red cabbage slaw; the platter of halibut with charred jalapenos and onion; limes; shot glasses filled with good tequila; and beer, lots of beer.
Pairing: Red Stripe Jamaican lager or tequila.
* Instructional video at goodfishbook.com.
(From Good Fish © 2011 by Becky Selengut. Published by Sasquatch Books)