Inspired by Good Fish by Becky Selengut
I present to you the god father of fish tacos that I wait all winter for, pining longingly for the spring season when the first wild Alaska halibut comes to market. If you have a bit more time, make some homemade guacamole. It is painfully simple: smash 2 ripe avocados with a fork, and add 1-1/2 tablespoons lime juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon hot sauce of your choice—mine is Tabasco.
For the red cabbage slaw:
3/4 pound red cabbage,
shredded (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and grated
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves and stems, roughly chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the tequila-lime marinade:
1 lime, first zested, then juiced (about 1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice)
2 tablespoons tequila
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 small jalapeños, halved, seeds and membranes removed,
sliced crosswise into half rings
1 small red onion, cut into thin half moons (about 2/3 cup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the halibut:
1 pound Vital Choice halibut fillet, skinned
1 tablespoon high-heat vegetable oil
For the taco bar:
Flour tortillas, warmed
Beers, of course
To prepare the slaw: toss the cabbage with the salt. Place in a colander. Locate a bowl that will fit nicely into the colander, fill it with water, and set it on top of the cabbage. Set this in the sink. The weight of the bowl of water will help force water from the cabbage, concentrating its flavor.
Lightly press the grated apple to drain any excess liquid. In a large bowl, mix the apple with the mustard seeds, cilantro, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil. Give the cabbage a squeeze with those fancy kitchen tools of yours called “hands.” Rinse the salt off the cabbage and squeeze again, getting all the liquid out. Combine the cabbage with the rest of the slaw ingredients and season to taste with salt. Set aside.
To prepare the marinade: combine all of its ingredients in a small bowl.
To prepare the halibut: place it in a large pan. Pour the marinade over the fillet and set aside for 20 minutes.
In a grill pan or sauté pan over high heat, add the vegetable oil. Add the halibut, reserving the marinade, and cook until the fish is browned on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the halibut carefully and continue cooking until the fish is thinking about flaking, but not quite yet flaking (see page 102), about 8 minutes per inch of fish (measured at its thickest point). The fish will continue to cook a bit more after you take it from the heat. Transfer the fish to a platter. Add the marinade to the pan (or get out a fresh pan if you grilled the fish) and cook the marinade over high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the liquid evaporates and the jalapeños and onions are lightly charred. Then add the marinade back on top of the fish, which, by this point, should be flaking nicely.
Set up the best taco bar you've ever seen, with warmed tortillas; bowls of sour cream, guacamole, and red cabbage slaw; the platter of halibut with charred jalapeños and onions; limes; shot glasses filled with good tequila; and beer, lots of beer.
About Becky Selengut
Becky Selengut is a private chef, author (Washington Local and Seasonal Cookbook, Good Fish), columnist (Edible Seattle) and cooking teacher. She worked for 3 years at the internationally acclaimed Herbfarm Restaurant under her mentor, Chef Jerry Traunfeld before setting out on her own to start Cornucopia, her private chef and education business.
She's at work on her third cookbook, "Shroom: Mind-bendingly good recipes for wild and cultivated mushrooms" (Andrews McMeel Fall 2014).
Learn more at cornucopiacuisine.com.