Sometimes I look at the grocery store circular and it’s all I need to know to plan dinner. That’s happened earlier this week when Central Market included the following in their sale offerings: cod, tortillas (made fresh in the bakery and still warm when I put them in my shopping cart) and avocados. Hello simple weeknight!
So, as the second installment in the Fish for Fridays series (also known as my Lenten offering), I want to share with you my first baked fish recipe. Truthfully, it was the first time I’ve ever baked a fish at all, recipe or not. (I’ve seen Kirk do it, so I wasn’t entirely flying blind and referenced several cookbooks to get an initial estimate for cook time and temp.) The result: success!
The cod, prepared with the tacos in mind, was a wonderful, creamy consistency, but still firm to the tooth. Cilantro and lime gave the needed southwestern profile to make it a tasty taco filling. And, of course, the avocado sealed the deal with wonderful delicate flavor. (It doesn’t hurt that it’s my favorite fruit.)
Though I used Pacific cod because it was available – and well priced – any mild fish could be substituted in this dish. (Think tilapia or flounder.) If you don’t already carry one, you might consider printing off a Seafood Watch pocket guide or using their online and handheld resources. (I love that they can quickly tell me that U.S. Pacific cod is a good choice due to fishing methods but imported, wild-caught Pacific cod should be avoided.)
Of course, the thing about tacos is that they are the perfect “kitchen sink” meal. If you have a can of beans, an onion and some decent tortillas your leftovers can become a magical reincarnation. I often make them with left over mushrooms, squash or, in a pinch, just the can of beans and a little cheese. What’s your favorite filling?
Cod and Avocado Tacos
I served the tacos with tomatoes, semi-soft Mexican cheese and pickled jalapenos for toppers. These made a plate alongside refried black beans (straight from the can, dressed up with a little garlic powder and ground cumin) and a green salad. But this would also be delicious with Spanish-style rice, sauteed squash and tomatoes or any other southwest-inspired side you desire – and can round up from your pantry and ‘fridge leftovers.
- 1 pound U.S. Pacific Cod filet, skinned
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic
- olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon dried and sifted cilantro
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 lime
- 1/2 red onion
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/2 tomato
- 1/2 large avocado
- semi-soft mexican cheese
- tortillas (preferably fresh made at your local bakery)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place non-stick fry pan over medium heat to warm.
- Finely dice yellow onion and garlic. Add approximately 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the warm pan and tilt to coat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for approximately 5 minutes or until onion has begun to turn translucent and fragrant.
- While onion sautes, Cut the fish filet in half to create two pieces of equal length. Place these on the center of a sheet of foil slightly more than double the filets that has been placed atop a baking sheet or appropriately sized metal baking pan. Sprinkle the fish with a large pinch of salt, a thorough coating of pepper and dried cilantro. Slice lime into round slices. Microwave butter until melted, checking frequently to avoid scorching.
- When onion is translucent, spoon onion and garlic mix evenly over fish. Top with sliced lime and drizzle with melted butter. Fold foil pack to enclose fish and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until meat is white and flakes easily with a fork. (It will be hot with steam when you open the foil pack, so be careful!)
- While fish cooks, prepare taco toppings. Slice red onion and red bell pepper into thin slices, while fry pan heats over medium heat. When warm, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to pan, tilt to coat bottom. Add onion and begin to cook over medium low heat. When onion has begun to wilt, add red pepper and continue to cook until onions are starting to brown in spots.
- While onions cook, chop tomato, put jared jalapenos in a bowl, grate cheese and dice avocado and lightly sprinkle with salt. You can also prepare any side dishes during this window. Set the table. Move cooked onions to platter. Approximately five minutes before fish is complete, wipe fry pan clean and begin warming over medium heat. Warm tortillas, one at a time, in fry pan, flipping each tortilla once.
- When cod is finished, remove from oven, open foil packet and serve with slotted spoon. (It will be so flaky you can break it with the edge of the spoon to scoop into tortillas.) Top cod pieces with avocado, grated cheese, tomatoes, onions, etc.
Total cook time: 25 – 30 minutes, total time (including prep): 45 minutes
Serves: 2 – 3