Cornmeal Crusted Fish Tacos with Rhubarb Salsa
One the best ways to enjoy fresh, gourmet-style meals on a budget is to keep with seasonal produce! Always cheaper during peak season, look for fruits and vegetables that are priced by the pound rather than per piece. Rhubarb is especially plentiful this time of year, available at farmer's markets and grocery stores through the summer. While the tart and crunchy stalks make for excellent pie (strawberry rhubarb, anyone?) and compotes, why not make a refreshing salsa?
Another budget-friendly meal idea is white fish. A relatively cheap protein, you can use tilapia or cod for this recipe, or go for halibut or mahi mahi - as long as the flavor is relatively mild and the flesh is firm, you are good to go!
Crispy Cornmeal Crusted Fish Tacos with Rhubarb Salsa
For the Rhubarb Salsa:
- 1 1/2 cups rhubarb (2 medium stalks), diced
- 1/3 cup minced scallions
- 1 jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and minced
- 1/2 cup cocktail onions, halved
- 2 TSP honey, plus more to taste
- 3 TSP apple cider vinegar, divided
- 2 TBSP chopped cilantro, plus garnish
- Sea salt
- Chipotle Powder or Cayenne Pepper to taste
For the Fish Tacos:
- 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound white fish (cod, tilapia, halibut), cut in 2-3 inch strips
- 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 8 corn tortillas
Create an ice bath by filling a large bowl 2/3 full with water and adding a cup or so of ice. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the rhubarb and blanch for 20 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer directly to the ice bath. Allow rhubarb to cool for a minute or two before transferring to a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain, blotting with additional paper towels if necessary. (We're not looking for perfectly dry here, just not dripping water.)
Once dry, transfer the rhubarb to a medium bowl and stir in scallions, chile or jalapeno and cocktail onions. In a separate bowl, combine honey and 1 TBSP of cider vinegar, mixing well. Pour honey-cider mixture over the salsa and season with salt and chipotle powder or cayenne pepper to taste. Stir in minced cilantro. Too tart? Add an extra drizzle of honey.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200°F (or automatic "keep warm" setting)
In a shallow bowl or baking dish, mix the cornmeal, a generous sprinkle of salt and additional chipotle powder, stirring well. Roll fish in the seasoned cornmeal, coating all sides. Shake off excess and transfer to a baking sheet to stand.
In a large skillet, heat 4 TBSP olive oil or medium heat. Working in batches, saute the fish until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, 1-2 minutes per side depending on thickness of the filet. Remove fish to a baking dish, cover with foil and place in the oven to keep warm while the remaining batches cook.
Once all of the fish has been cooked and is warming in the oven, add 1 TBSP oil to the skillet and saute the sliced onions over medium heat until golden brown. To deglaze the pan, add 2 TBSP cider vinegar and stir well, gently scraping the bottom of the pan with a spoon or spatula. Remove from heat.
To warm the tortillas, place them in a stack wrapped in damp paper towels and microwave for 25 seconds.
To assemble, place 1-2 pieces of fish in the center of the soft tortillas, add caramelized onions and rhubarb salsa. Garnish with sour cream.
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- Kelsey Ganes