Fish Tacos and Gazpacho

Fish Tacos and Gazpacho
Staff Writer
Fish Tacos and Gazpacho
Con Poulos

Fish tacos are transformed from casual taco truck fare to a sophisticated starter when they are loaded with citrus-marinated cod, a creamy avocado topping, spicy jalapeño, and sweet mangos. I’ve always thought that the best design is most often the simplest, and these fish tacos, in their stylish and vibrant lime holder, drive that point home. Refreshing gazpacho shooters made with lots of fresh herbs, green grapes, and cucumber produce a great balance to the sweet-spicy taco crunch.

Ingredients

For the gazpacho:

  • 1 cup seedless green grapes
  • ½ seedless (English) cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper, seeded, de-ribbed, and chopped
  • ¼ jalapeño pepper, seeded, de-ribbed, and finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 4-5 limes)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the taco shells:

  • 6 cups peanut oil
  • Two 10-inch flour tortillas

For the tacos:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • One 4- to 6-ounce fresh cod fillet

For serving:

  • ½ ripe avocado
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 limes
  • ¼ jalapeño pepper, seeded, de-ribbed, and finely chopped
  • 1 small ripe mango, seeded and diced into ¼-inch cubes

Directions

For the gazpacho:

Place the grapes, cucumber, bell pepper, jalapeño, cilantro, chives, olive oil, and lime juice in the bowl of a food processor, or in a blender, and purée. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher, and stir in salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.

For the taco shells:

In a large pot, heat the oil to 325 degrees over medium heat.

While the oil heats, prepare the tortilla shells. Place the tortillas on your work surface, and use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to stamp 12 rounds from each tortilla. Wrap a tortilla round around a ½-inch cannoli tube and then slide it inside a 1-inch tube. Repeat with 5 more tortilla rounds. Place the 6 tubes in the oil and cook until the tortillas look golden, about 1 minute. Remove the tubes from the oil and place them on a paper towel- lined baking sheet to cool.

Once cool, carefully slide the fried shells and the ½-inch tubes out of the larger tubes. Remove the crisp shells and set them aside. Repeat with the remaining tortilla rounds.

For the tacos:

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon and lime zest, salt, and pepper. Place the cod fillet in a baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet (the baking dish or sheet pan should be long enough so the fillet rests flat) and rub with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Remove the cod from the refrigerator, discard the plastic wrap, and roast it in the oven until the thickest part flakes apart easily when pierced with a fork, 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool completely, and then flake the fish with your fingers or a fork.

For serving:

Scoop the avocado flesh out of the skin, place it in a small bowl, and mash with a fork. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and some pepper, and set aside.

Slice a thin piece off one long side of each lime so it doesn’t wobble. Rest the lime on the cut side. Using a paring knife, cut a ¼-inch-deep, 1-inch-wide, V-shaped notch into the top of the lime (this will be the cradle for the taco).

Place ¼ teaspoon mashed avocado in each taco shell. Divide the flaked cod among the tacos, and sprinkle the jalapeño and mango on top. Set the tacos into the prepared lime holders. Divide the gazpacho among 24 small glasses, and serve one with each taco.

Fish Shopping Tip

A fresh fish should not smell fishy nor have milky, opaque eyes; it should have bright red gills, firm flesh, and a tight anal cavity.

Fish Cooking Tip

Whole fish should be stored upright in ice in the refrigerator.

Fish Wine Pairing

Most white wines (especially albariño) and rosé with most fish dishes. Muscadet, sancerre, or New Zealand sauvignon blanc with cold fish dishes; chardonnay, pinot gris/grigio, or pinot blanc with grilled or roasted fish; sauvignon blanc or gewürztraminer with baked fish; grüner veltliner with fish pâté; vintage or non-vintage champagne or sparkling wine with light fish dishes; fino or manzanilla with small fried fish; junmai, junmai-ginjo, or junmai-daiginjo with teriyaki fish.

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