South Asian Fish Tacos with Chimichurri

tacos

Every night this week, I have dreamt I was on the beach. White sand, blue water, umbrella drink in my left hand and a tasty treat in my right.  Instead, I’m stuck in humid DC and my day was the complete opposite of a vacation. I did laundry, went to the gym, dog park and grocery store. While I may not be hanging 10 or getting tan, who says I can’t eat like I’m on vacation? I had a piece of tilapia leftover from last night’s dinner so I decided to cook it tonight rather than freeze. I’m very glad with this decision because I whipped up some epic fish tacos. Who can resist a good fish taco? Light, crispy white fish, your favorite fresh veggies, warm torillas and a slather of yummy sauce.

The great thing about fish tacos is that you can truly customize them and channel your inner creativity. You don’t have to stick with tilapia, either. I like tilapia for tacos because it’s cheap, easy and very light– perfect for a PLRC like me. Feel free to try other fish such as halibut, mahi or grouper, though. Just make sure that it’s a firm enough to handle toppings and tortillas. For this recipe, I pretty much just used what I had on hand. I wanted to spice up the fish, so I dressed up the flour dredge with turmeric (hence the South Asian title), cayenne and paprika. Now for the sauce, which is more South American than South Asian, I made a delicious chimichurri sauce. This will stay fresh for up to a week in your fridge. I’m thinking it would be perfect on skirt steak. Or I might just need to make these tacos again later in the week. They are just that good.

Ingredients

Serves 2

For the sauce:

  • 1 C Parsley leaves ($.75)
  • 1/2 C cilantro (with stems) ($.50)
  • 3/4 C olive oil ($.50)
  • 6 garlic cloves ($.30)
  • Juice of 1 lime ($.75)
  • 1.5 tbs apple cider vinegar ($.20)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs paprika ($.50)

For the fish:

  • 2 tilapia filets ($3.00)
  • 3/4 C flour ($.30)
  • 1 tbs paprika ($.50)
  • 1.5 tsp cayenne pepper ($.25)
  • 2 tsp turmeric ($.25)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

For serving:

  • 6 soft corn tortillas ($.75)
  • 6 tsp sour cream ($.30)
  • sliced avocado (optional) ($1.00)
  • lime juice

Total: $9.85

Instructions:

First, prepare the chimichurri. Blend all sauce ingredients in food processor until smooth. Place in container and refrigerate until ready to use. The sauce will stay fresh for up to a week if you keep it refrigerated. You can also freeze it!

Mix flour, turmeric, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper. Rinse the tilapia filets and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper then dredge in flour mixture. Heat skillet with 2 tbs olive oil. Fry the fish for 1.5 minutes on each side, then drain on paper towels. Try not to overcrowd the skillet, you can work in batches. As soon as fish comes off the skillet, season with salt and a little squeeze of lime.

Heat the tortillas in the microwave then dress them. I put sour cream down first (1 tsp per tortilla), then chimichurri, then fish. Add a few slices of avocado and a sprinkle of cilantro. Enjoy!

Japanese Avocado and Ginger Salad

AvocadoSalad

I’ve been to Japan four times in the last six months and racked up more frequent flyer miles than I know what to do with. I’d love to say it was for vacation, but I have to travel there often for work (my day job– I wish it was for something cooking related). If you have never been to Japan I suggest you go immediately. I’ve traveled quite frequently in the past few years, both domestically and internationally, and I can say that Tokyo is without a doubt one of the most incredible cities I’ve ever been to. It’s one of those places that can really change your entire perspective of the world. The people are so driven and career oriented, the city so fast paced, yet the Japanese culture of being kind, respectful and trustworthy is not forgotten. People will go out of their way to help you and make you feel welcome, and you never have to worry about your personal safety as a tourist . In Tokyo, you can ride the metro at 3 pm on any given weekday and see dozens of 5-year-old children riding the train home– by themselves!

tokyo

This post would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the cuisine in Japan. It’s incredible. My favorite sushi joint, Sushi Zanmai, is open 24 hours and serves the most amazing, yet simple, sushi ever. Most of it arrives every morning from Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, the largest seafood market in the world. Below is a photo of me exploring the market at 6 in the morning, right before I had tuna sashimi for breakfast at Zanmai.

fishmarket

Some of the traditional dishes in Japan are quite…interesting. Each time I go I try expanding my horizons a little, but to be honest there are just some things I will never eat. Things like horse meat, grasshoppers and fermented soy beans. No thank you! It’s funny when I go to Japanese restaurants in America now. Those Teppanyaki places are a total rip off! There is no such thing as white sauce in Japan. There is no fried rice either. With that said I did have an amazing ginger salad the last time I went to Tokyo. It was a little different than the standard kind you get in the states. They added avocado, used butter lettuce and the salad tasted much fresher than normal. Below is my take on ginger salad!

Ingredients

  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small shallot, peeled chopped
  • 2.5 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 head of bibb lettuce or spring mix
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Sesame seeds

Instructions:

In a food processor, blend, carrot, shallot, ginger. Add white miso and sesame oil. While the machine is running, slowly add canola oil and water. Blend until it reaches desired consistency. Toss with bibb lettuce, onion and avocado. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

sushi

Poorlittlerichcook Launch Party

spread

I love to entertain and I obviously love to cook. Combine the two and I’m happier than a pig in mud. Given the fact I started this blog recently I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to host a launch party and introduce my recipes to a live audience. I mentioned the idea to my friend Steve, a fellow chef, and within minutes we were party planning (on a yacht of all places, pinch me). We decided on upscale Mexican– flank steak fajitas, shrimp and avocado ceviche, guacamole from scratch, and black bean and corn salad. Don’t worry we didn’t forget the booze. I made my fresh, key lime margaritas with agave nectar and sauvignon blanc sangria.

spread2

My apartment was eliminated because it’s 900 square feet and I have an incredibly angry downstairs neighbor. Whenever I decide to move out of this place I am throwing an all-night rager just to spite him. And buying pogo sticks for all my guests. Anyway, Steve’s house is definitely bigger than mine but with the guest list growing, we were in need of a much bigger space.  Luckily, Steve’s friend Chip graciously agreed to let us use his beautiful Georgetown home for our guests and let me tell you, this place was made for entertaining. Soaring ceilings, atrium that leads to an outdoor patio, rooftop deck, the list goes on. Totally chic and sophisticated, yet still has that warm and historic Georgetown feel.

I’m definitely a planner. Everything has to be organized, the menu has to be perfect, guest list finalized and the food prepped ahead of time. Planning a party for a large amount of people is all about the time leading up to the event. I would have an absolute panic attack if I did all my grocery shopping the day of and didn’t prep my food until the doorbell rang. As a hostess, it’s best to be calm, cool and collected when your guests arrive so that you don’t look like a chicken with your head cut off. Wellllllll…we ended up getting a late start. We made the mistake of buying frozen shrimp that were not peeled or de-veined–do you know how long it takes to peel and devein 4 pounds of shrimp? I delegated that task along with some others– like juicing 8 oranges, 8 limes and 8 lemons. Oh and seeding and chopping tomatoes (thanks Gordon).

Here's me trying to look calm
Here’s me trying to look calm

Luckily most guests arrived fashionably late, about an hour after we told them to come. Phew! I put out some apps, tortilla chips and of course the sangria to keep everyone happy while we started the fajitas. When the party really started hoppin’ the meat was just about ready to come off the grill and the onions and peppers were done– perfect timing. We ended up having a great turnout, about 50 guests, and everyone seemed very pleased with the food. Hooray! Success. I can’t wait to try this again. Below you can find all my recipes (ceviche was from a previous post that you can find here) Oh and don’t worry, I scaled all the recipes down from 50 to 4 servings.

Flank Steak Fajitas

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound flank steak ($8.00)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil ($2.00)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce ($.10)
  • 1 garlic clove ($.02)
  • 2 scallions, cut in 1/2 ($.05)
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice ($.05)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes ($.05)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin ($.05)
  • 1.5 tablespoons brown sugar ($.03)
  • Salt and Pepper to season steak
  • 2 bell peppers (green or orange) and 1 large white onion, cut into strips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (for the peppers and onions)

Total: $10.35

Trim fat from flank steak and season generously with salt and pepper. Combine the rest of the ingredients in pyrex baking dish large enough for the steak. Marinate steak for 6-8 hours in refrigerator. Pull steak out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you are ready to grill. Grill on medium-high heat until steak reaches desired temperature.

While you’re grilling the steak start your peppers and onions in cast iron skillet with vegetable oil. They will take about 12 minutes to cook. Put steak on a platter and let it REST at least 10 minutes. Carve steak against the grain and serve with sauteed peppers and onions on flour tortillas. Top with your favorites– cheese, sour cream, salsa, guac, etc.

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Guacamole

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe avocados (cut them in half, pop out the seed and scoop out the green part) ($3.50)
  • Juice of 1 lime ($.20)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin ($.05)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper ($.05)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced finely ($.25)
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced finely ($.10)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced($.50)
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped ($.10)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($.05)

Total: $4.80

Instructions

Mash avocado with the black of fork, squeeze lime juice over avocado and combine all ingredients. Mash to your desired consistency– I like to keep mine a bit chunky. Pro-tip: Keep the seed in the bowl you are serving in while it’s in the fridge. Also cover tightly with saran wrap. This will keep the guac from browning before you serve! Remove the seed when ready to dig in and serve with tortilla chips.

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Black Bean and Corn Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 oz) can Rotel tomatoes & chilies ($1.00)
  • 1 (8 oz) can yellow corn ($.85)
  • 1/2 (8 oz) can black beans ($.85)
  • 1/2 (4 oz) can green chilies ($1.00)
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion ($.50)
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • chili powder, to taste
  • cumin, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro ($.50)
  • Juice of 1 lime ($.20)
Total: $4.90
Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir and refrigerate for 1 hour. Yes, it’s that easy.
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White Sangria

sangria
Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup hot water (free)
  • 1/2 cup sugar ($.20)
  • 750 ml Sauvignon Blanc ($3.99– use the cheap stuff)
  • 3/4 cup brandy ($6.00)
  • 1 lime, sliced into rounds ($.20)
  • 1 orange, sliced into rounds ($.50)
  • 1/2 pineapple cut into chunks ($2.00)
  • 2 cups club soda ($1.00)
  • 1 cup raspberries ($2.00)

Total: $15.89

Instructions

In large pitcher or other container combine the hot water and sugar. Stir with a whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add in the wine, brandy, lime, orange and pineapple. Put in the fridge at least 3 hours. Before serving, add in 2 cups of club soda and raspberries.

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Key Lime Margaritas

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fresh Key lime juice (I use Nellie and Joe’s) ($.50)
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar ($.25)
  • 3 tablespoons silver tequila ($.50)
  • 1 tablespoon Triple Sec ($.20)

Total: $1.45

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in shaker and shake vigorously with ice. Serve on the rocks with salt on the rim.

katecookin