Oh decadence! Veterans Day provided not only a chance for reflection but also a rare day free from the classroom. So what to do with this open period of time? The answer was easy, dinner party.
I have wanted to have my colleagues Roxanna and John over, but time is always an issue. I phoned them up and they accepted. Now the fun began — menu planning.
While vacationing with my parents in Vegas last summer we went out to marvelous food chain, The Cheesecake Factory. I had their sumptuous fish tacos and have been dying to recreate them. I knew my guests were fish friendly so I thought I’d give it a whirl.
What stood out most in the dish was its lively combination of flavors: delicate whitefish, a tangy, creamy avocado sauce, crisp Asian greens, Mandarin oranges, and crisp red cabbage. The combination was a taste delight.
Of course, restaurants are often loathe to share their recipes and trying to figure it out for yourself is an adventure, so here’s what I did. First, I brushed a little extra virgin olive oil on a baking dish. I placed four tilapia fillets on the baking dish and gave them a liberal dose of kosher salt. I stuck the pan in a 375-degree oven for 25 minutes.
Then I took three ripe haas avocados, sliced them open, removed the pits, and scooped their insides into my trusty food processor. To that I added about a third of a cup of limejuice, three tablespoons of fat-free sour cream, salt to taste, and about half a cup of half-and-half. I blended it until smooth and creamy. Depending on the size of the avocados you may want to add more half-and-half and/or limejuice. It should be rather thick but easy to spread.
While waiting for my fish to finish up I organized everything I needed to make the tacos. I shredded up a small head of red cabbage and I took from the fridge a bag of mixed Asian greens, and the flour tortillas. From the pantry I removed a can of Mandarin orange segments, open and drained them, and placed them in a small bowl.
When the fish was finished I let it cool for about five minutes then I flaked it with a fork. To assemble the tacos I warmed the tortillas on a large skillet, then I spread each tortilla with some of the avocado cream sauce, the I put down a small handful of the greens, a small two or three heaping tablespoons of the fish, another dollop of the avocado cream sauce, and then a smattering of the cabbage and five or six Mandarin orange pieces. I fold these in half and set a wooden spoon on them for a few minutes to keep the fold.
I served the tacos with saffron rice, black beans, (purchased in the Mexican section of my local grocery store) and, of course, a big pitcher of margaritas.