We like to buy trout from the organic tianguis that comes to the Roma every two weeks. A vendor sells it whole and in filets. The trout isn’t available all the time, so when we buy it, it’s a treat.
In the past, I’ve poached the fish and served it with a salsa verde (one day I’m going to post all these recipes for you, I swear). But lately I’ve been bored with poaching. I said to Crayton, who is slowly coming around to eating seafood, what would you like to do with this fish? Usually when I ask him what he wants to eat, he says meatloaf. This time he said, Why not fish tacos?
The dream fish taco… and the reality
My favorite kind of fish taco is deep-fried: nuggets of bland white fish, sheathed in beer batter, puffed up in hot oil and served with shredded cabbage and a spicy cream sauce. The cream sauce is kinda half tartar sauce, half salsa.
For our meal at home, I wanted to make something healthier while keeping the idea of that sauce intact. The fish, because I would not be marinating it, needed a little zing.
So I pan-fried my trout filets. I made a sauce using the Oaxacan chile pasilla (I am obsessed), garlic, yogurt and mayonnaise. The result, thrown together in 30 minutes, was exactly what I wanted it to be: a simple taco that felt hefty because of the cabbage, and that wowed you with its smoky-creaminess. My friend Liz came over for dinner and moaned when she bit into these. “What is the name of this chile?” she demanded.
If you don’t have Oaxacan pasillas, you could substitute morita or chipotle.
Trout tacos with spicy Oaxaca pasilla cream sauce
Serves 4 with a few side dishes
For the sauce (makes about 1/4 cup):
1 Oaxaca chile pasilla, or any other intensely smoky, spicy chile
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
For the fish:
12 ounces trout filets
Vegetable or olive oil (or oil of your choice)
Six to 8 corn tortillas
It’s a good idea to make the sauce first, so the flavors mix while you’re preparing the rest of the dish. Using kitchen shears or a knife, make an incision in the chile and scrape out the seeds and veins. Don’t use your fingers — it’s better to use a small spoon or a butter knife. Cover chile in hot water and let hydrate until the skin has softened, about five to 10 minutes. While the chile rests, you can slice your cabbage and let it sit in cold water, so it stays fresh.
Once the chile is sufficiently softened, add it to a blender with the garlic and just a little (1 or 2 tablespoons) water. Blend until as smooth as possible. Don’t worry if you see pieces of chile — that’s okay. Scrape or pour mixture into a small bowl, and whisk in mayonnaise and yogurt. Taste for salt and add if necessary. Store sauce in fridge until ready to use.
Wash and pat dry the fish filets. Season with salt and pepper. To cook, drizzle about a tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet and heat to medium. Add the fish when the pan is hot. Cook until golden brown on both sides.
To serve tacos, take a fork and shred a little bit of fish into a warm corn tortilla. Top with a spritz of lime juice, a spoonful of salsa and the cabbage.