The way I see it, the American economy no longer falls into lower, middle or upper class, but rather somewhere in that gray murky area.
Unless you are fortunate enough to be in the 1 percenters club in America, (and I’m not talking about the biker clubs) I’m going to bet you work for a living. (Unless you are one of the unemployed, which I am truly sorry.)
All this means is you fall into one of those areas between lower class and middle class, possibly even in between middle and upper class if you’re a brain surgeon or one of the founders of The Google Glass.
When you work for a living, whether you fight fires, raise children, cook in a hot kitchen, crunch numbers, teach, sit on a bench in a black robe, or dig coal, at the end of the day I’m betting you think about where you will go on your next vacation.
Unless you are already on vacation.
If you are like me (which I doubt-since I’m quite the weirdo known to talk to myself when I walk the dog and generally don’t act my age which come to think of it is not all that weird) vacation means food. Well, it means other stuff too, but his is a post about tacos. Stick with me.
That’s how I felt the night I made these crunchy chipotle crusted grouper tacos – like I wanted to be on vacation.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to eat tacos. Especially on vacation, whether you are a 1 percenter or not, whether your vacation is real or in the planning stages.
I cracked a Corona light, not for any reason except I had a lime in the refrigerator. At $1 a lime, I was determined to get as much joy and juice out of that lime as possible. Plus a cold Corona complements a taco. And I had enough leftover grouper from dinner the night before to make a few tacos. (Now there’s a mouthful.)
By the way, did you know the lime crisis has to do with the Mexican drug cartel?
Another side note ̶ I don’t subscribe to the theory that a lemon is a good substitute for a lime – especially for a taco, a cold corona or a salted margarita on the rocks (fodder for another post).
After I nibbled on a few roasted peanuts, I thought how nice it would be to be on an airplane, earbuds plugged in, clouds floating by, a bag of peanuts and free drink coupons.
I wanted to be somewhere other than sitting on my back porch swatting at oversized mosquitos.
Another pull on my beer and my vacation would take me to a warm, sunny, climate. A place where I could smell the ocean and feel salt on my skin after a day frolicking in warm turquoise-colored water.
A place where the language was foreign yet I didn’t have to translate, where I could get by with a few simple phrases like where’s the bathroom? and I’ll have another please.
A place where the fish is fresh, the salsa spicy, the music hip rolling, the laughter easy, loud and plentiful.
But since I wasn’t going on vacation to such a place anytime soon, the lime wasn’t going to get any juicier, the fish not any fresher, I went into the kitchen and reached for my cutting board, chef’s knife and my ten-inch skillet.
The thing I like most about tacos is they are so easy to make.
Disclaimer: This is not a traditional step-by-step recipe, because I want to keep with the I’d rather be on vacation eating tacos theme of this post.
Now any white fish will work for this recipe. Think tilapia, cod, snapper or halibut. The key is to cut your fish pieces all about the same size. This will take the how long should I cook the fish guesswork out of it. For instance, my grouper chunks took about five minutes (yep, total cooking time) on medium heat in a skillet on the stovetop.
Since the grouper was dusted in flour, salt and pepper, then rolled it in egg wash before I coated the pieces in chipotle tortilla crumbs I wanted little else for my tacos. I opted for a little shredded savoy cabbage, slivers of red bell pepper, grated creamy Monterey jack cheese, a dollop of sour cream, fresh lime zest and a little chopped green onion.
Notes to live by: prepare all of your taco toppings before you turn the heat on the skillet. Warm the taco shells (I used soft flour, but use whatever you like) and make sure the table is set, even if that means setting a roll of paper towels in the middle of the table.
Heat the skillet on medium heat for several minutes. This would be a good time to pop open another Corona. There is fresh lime to be consumed after all.
Back to the tacos.
Be prepared to work quickly. Roll the fish in the flour, shake off excess, place in egg wash, then coat in chipotle crusted tortilla.
Sip your beer and dream of palm trees swaying in the breeze.
Add a tablespoon or two (depending on how much fish you have to cook) of vegetable oil (or some other neutral oil) to the skillet. Swirl the oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and when the oil shimmers, add the fish. But don’t crowd or the fish will steam cook, not develop a nice crispy , crunchy coating.
Set the timer for two minutes. Turn and cook another two minutes. If your fish is chunky like mine, you’ll need to turn it to cook the other sides, too, so factor that in for your five minute cook time. If you are cooking a flat fish, like tilapia or snapper, you’ll only turn once.
Work in batches if you are feeding a crowd and when you get a pan of fish done, make tacos and serve immediately.
Vacation optional. Appetite required.
Where are you going on your next vacation?
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Thanks for stopping by and Happy Earth Day 2014.