Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fish Taco Night

My friends have been very into throwing dinner parties this year. I guess that’s what happens when you start venturing into your mid-20s. Personally, I love dinner parties. My college roommates and attempted to start a “Sunday Dinner” tradition at our apartment (slightly different…our long dinner table was actually a beirut table (or for some…”beer pong table”)). Unfortunately, a lack of funds and motivation turned our tradition into a random “Sunday Dinner” once every few months. Luckily, our motivation and fund situation has changed a bit, and my friends now get together fairly frequently for a homemade dinner.

A few weeks ago, my very good friend had all the girls over for a Mexican feast. This friend has made vast strides in the culinary world since I first met her. She is now our group social planner and I’m always excited when I get an invite for a dinner at her house.

I arrived at her place happy to find a colorful display of food and bowls on the dinner table. If you’ve had tacos before, you know the usually sides involved with Mexican dinners (shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, salsa, lettuce, rice, etc.), so make sure you have those ready and out in bowls for your guests. My friend made the beer-battered fish for the tacos, and an eggplant salad (which we have come to love over the past couple of months).

This recipe fed about 5 chicas.
Beer-battered Fish Tacos (an EatingWell recipe)

• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
• 1/3 cup beer
• 8 ounces tilapia fillet, cut crosswise into 1-inch wide strips
• Vegetable oil
• Corn tortillas, warmed

1. Combine flour, cumin, salt and cayenne in a medium bowl. Whisk in beer to create a batter.
2. Coat tilapia pieces in the batter. Heat oil (make sure oil is about 1” deep) in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
**Girls, I know we don’t like “tons of oil” because it makes us feel fat. Unfortunately, you need to stop caring when you make this dish, because you will need to have plenty of oil to completely submerge the fish into. Lesson learned from when we first started making this dish: if you don’t have enough oil to let the fish float, the nice beer-batter you just made will end up stuck to your pan, rather than on the fish.
**DO NOT substitute olive oil to make this dish "healthier." You want to use vegetable oil when frying things, or it is just not going to fry correctly.
3. Letting excess batter drip back into the bowl, add the fish to the pan; cook until crispy and golden, 2 to 4 minutes per side. When you are turning the fish and transferring it to/from the pan, it is best to use metal tongs. Be VERY gentle so the fish stays intact.  Let the fish sit on a paper towel (to let out some oil) before setting it out with the other taco ingredients.

Eggplant and Corn Salad

• 1 eggplant
• 1 bag of frozen corn
• Garlic cloves
• Rosemary
• Parsley
• Shaved Parmesan
• Salt and pepper
• Chipotle/hot sauce
• Olive oil
• 1 Lemon

1. Grease large pan with olive oil or butter.
2. Mix corn with chipotle/hot sauce.
3. Add salt and pepper to corn.
4. Spread out the corn on a greased pan.
5. Broil corn on high for about 10-15 minutes.
6. Dice the eggplant into even 1” cubes.
7. Mix the eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper.
8. Spread eggplant on a baking dish with a sprig of rosemary and garlic cloves.
9. Bake eggplant at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.
10. Chop up parsley and toss in a large bowl.
11. Add cooked corn and eggplant to parsley.
12. Squeeze one lemon into mixture.
13. Once the mixture has cooled top with shaved Parmesan.

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