Surf and Turf Taco Night
Happy Fourth of July everyone! This happens to be my favorite holiday. I know a lot of people pick Christmas as their favorite... and you might expect me to choose Thanksgiving since I love to cook... but my favorite is Independence Day. Why? Because it's summertime and you celebrate this holiday not with standing in long lines to buy gifts for everyone you know, but with outdoor cookouts, baseball games, fireworks, and ice cold beer. Please tell me what you can think of that's better than that, because I got nothin.
You also get a long weekend and Mark and I decided to spend yesterday shopping for ingredients and making a delicious dinner on the grill, washing it all down of course with icy cold beers.
A couple weeks ago I was asked to try a product from Tortilla Land - their uncooked flour tortillas. Well, as soon as I heard the word "tortillas", I knew I wanted to try them. If you know me at all, you know my most favorite kind of food is Mexican/Southwestern/TexMex... so I immediately accepted.
Mark and I decided to create two kinds of tacos - fish tacos and steak tacos. I would create the fish tacos and he would create the steak tacos. And because Mark is the master of the grill in our house, he would grilled up everything on the grill and I would do the prep work. Both tacos were made using the Tortilla Lane flour tortillas and I have to say, cooking your own tortillas the minute before you're ready to eat them is the only way to go. If you can get your hands on these uncooked tortillas, make sure you do, because it's the freshest flour tortillas you'll ever taste.
See how we made these tacos after the jump.
Let's start with the fish tacos. We decided to use a beautiful piece of halibut. Keep your fish in the fridge until right before you're ready to put it on the grill. You'll want to do all your prep work first, which for this fish taco recipe, is basically the slaw and the spicy sauce.
To make the sauce, combine mayo, sour cream, smoked paprika, cumin, hot sauce (we used Chalula), fresh lime juice, and cayenne pepper. Transfer the sauce to a squeezie bottle if you have one and pop it in the fridge until you're ready to use it. I have no idea why I forgot to take a picture of this, but you can see what the sauce looks like on the pictures of the finished products above. It's tangy, creamy, cool, and spicy. Just exactly what both tacos need.
To make the slaw, cut some napa cabbage into thin strips, or shred it up in your food processor - whatever you prefer. I shredded up about 2 cups of it. Peel a carrot and grate it on your box grater - add that to the bowl. Cut 1/4 of a red onion into thin slices and add that to the bowl. Mince up one jalapeno and add that to the bowl. Rough chop some cilantro, enough to pack into one tablespoon tightly, and add that to the bowl. Roast up one poblano pepper, pop it into a paper bag for a few minutes to loosen the skin, remove the skin and dice up the flesh - removing the seeds of course. Add the chopped up poblano to the bowl.
Now mix up the dressing for the slaw. Combine canola oil, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, ancho chili powder, salt, pepper, and honey. Whisk it up, then pour it over the slaw and toss to combine.
This slaw has a spicy sweetness that pairs perfectly with the fish in this taco. Chill your slaw in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
Now that your slaw and sauce are made, it's time to grill up your tortillas and fish.
Starting with the tortillas. We used Tortilla Land's uncooked flour tortillas.
Spray your grill grates with Pam cooking spray (with the fire off of course so you don't blow your head off). This will prevent the food from sticking to your grill. Place the raw flour tortillas directly onto your grill. Take a look at the pictures below and see how the tortillas puff up as they cook. They don't take long, so keep an eye on them and when they're golden brown and puffing up, it's time to flip them over. Grill them until golden brown on the other side and then remove them from the grill.
As you can see, they really puff up... but they deflate as soon as you take them off the grill. You end up with the freshest tortilla you've ever had at home that's a little crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. So delicious.
The last thing you want to do is grill up your fish. Place your halibut fillet in a glass dish and season it with a good pinch of salt and pepper on each side and a dusting of garlic powder on each side. Then hit the fish with a liberal drizzle of olive oil on each side and rub the seasonings into the fish. Finish by dusting the smoked paprika all over both sides of the fish so it looks like this:
You'll have some leftover seasoned olive oil in the dish that you'll want to pour over the fish as it's grilling to flavor it even more. Grill the fish about 5 minutes per side.
The halibut will look like this when it's done.
Then just slice and chunk up the fish so it looks like this.
Now you're ready to assemble your fish tacos. Just put the chunks of fish down first, covering one half of the tortilla. Top the fish with the slaw, then squirt on your spicy sauce. Fold the tortilla over and serve your taco with a wedge of lime for some extra zing.
Moving on to the steak taco... The first thing you'll want to do here is rub your flank steak (ours was about 1 1/2 lbs.) with the following: kosher salt (1 teaspoon per lb.), fresh ground black pepper (2-3 liberal pinches per side), and garlic powder (about 1/2 teaspoon per side). Rub about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into the meat and seasonings on both sides. Then mix together the ancho chili powder (2 heaping teaspoons) and the cayenne pepper (1/2 level teaspoon), then dust it all over both sides of the meat. Rub that into the meat. Finally, dust both sides of the meat with the cumin (about 1/4 teaspoon per side). It will look like a pasty wet rub. If it looks too dry, add a little more olive oil. Set the steak aside, not in the fridge, so the rub can flavor the meat as you do your prep work. You want the meat to stay at room temperature so you're not putting a piece of cold meat on the grill.
Let's do the prep work for this taco. Since you already made the sauce for the fish tacos, you're all set there. If you didn't make the fish tacos, check out the recipe below to see how to make the spicy sauce that also accompanies these tacos.
Next, you'll want to grill up a couple ears of sweet corn. Just put the ears of corn, husk and all, right onto your grill and grill them until they look like this.
When the corn is cool enough to handle, you'll want to peel the husks back, snap them off at the end, then cut off the corn kernels using a knife.
Dice up a tomato, slice up an avocado, shred some sharp cheddar cheese, and wash and dry some cilantro.
Your tortillas should already be ready from when you made the fish tacos. If not, see above on how to grill up your Tortilla Land uncooked tortillas.
Now you're ready to put the flank steak on the grill. Get your grill as hot as you can and grill the meat about 6 minutes per side. Start with 6 minutes on one side, flip it, then after about 4 minutes, check the temperature of the meat. The thermometer should read 140 degrees. When it does, immediately remove the meat from the grill. It should look like this.
Remove the steak from the grill and let it rest for like 10 minutes so the juices redistribute throughout the meat. When you're ready, slice the meat against the grain, then add the sliced up meat back to the dish the cooked meat was sitting in and toss the meat slices with the delicious meat juices.
Now you're ready to assemble your steak taco. First add some of the sliced steak covering half of your tortilla. Top with corn, tomato, avocado, shredded cheese, and cilantro. Squirt some spicy sauce on top. Fold over the tortilla and serve your steak taco with a wedge of lime for some added zing. We also made sure to have a bottle of Chalula hot sauce on the table (we like spicy food), and enjoyed some Belhaven Scottish Ale with our tacos.
So take advantage of our summer weather and grill these delicious tacos up on your grill.
Oh and before I go, I thought you might like a quick look at our herb garden. If you're not already growing your own herbs, you really should. Even I can grow them, I know you can too. I have quite the black thumb.
A couple tips.... always grow your cilantro from seed. Don't bother buying those cilantro plants and planting them. They will grow more fluffy and plentiful if you grow them from seed and you'd be surprised how fast they grow. As soon as they look ready to use though, use them. If you wait too long, cilantro will "bolt" on you, which means it will grow into tall stalks, with flowers on the tops that produce coriander, which are cilantro seeds. You can plant those coriander seeds and more cilantro will grow for you. Just plant seeds throughout the summer and you'll always have fresh cilantro growing.
Another tip... if you're going to plant a bunch of different herbs together, leave mint off the guest list. Mint will overtake all herbs around it - it grows like wildfire. Put your mint in it's own pot - it does not play nice with others. Our fresh parsley also kind of did the same thing this year... it kind of kicked our thyme's ass. So you might want to think about putting your parsley in a separate pot as well.
Anyway, here are some pics of our herb garden...
Our beautiful basil:
This is the herb garden you'll see when you walk into our house - from the left: sage, parsley, thyme, and oregano:
A close up of the oregano:
Have a fun and safe Fourth of July! Visit Tortilla Land to see where you can buy your uncooked flour tortillas!