This dish has become a standard weekday meal at my house. Jan asks for it at least once or twice a month. This makes it a bit boring for me, so I am always tinkering with the recipe trying to make it even better.
Usually when I make this dish, I use one batch of spice and one pound of fish. This may seem like a lot, but my family of three always seems to finish it off. Son-in-law Chris is still on his ketogenic diet, which means that he will eat little of the tortillas and corn salad. Today, I am using about two pounds of fish, so that he will get enough to eat.
When I make this dish for a weekday meal, I season the fish with a dry rub and quickly throw it under the broiler. For this Sunday I thought I would take the time to marinate the fish overnight. Adding some lime juice and barbecuing the fish would also take this dish out of the mundane.
The acids in lime juice break down the proteins and chemically “cook” the fish. If I marinated the fish in the juice overnight, I would end up with a bag of mushy ceviche. To avoid this I am planning to marinate the fillets with the dry rub overnight and then add the lime juice two hours before cooking. I am hoping for the best of both worlds, seasoning that has penetrated the meat and a citrus tang.
With some tortillas, guacamole and Cal Col Roja en Escabeche for the main dish, you could stop right there and call it a meal. However, for a Sunday meal I like to go all out and I will also make a salsa fresca and a corn and orange salad.
Karl’s Barbecued Veracruz-style Fish Tacos
2 lb. red snapper or cod fillets
4+ Tbs. Karl’s Veracruz-style Fish Spice Blend
1 Tbs. ancho chili power
1 Tbs. guajillo chili power
4 tsp. Mexican oregano, rubbed
4 tsp. cumin, ground
2 tsp. coriander seeds
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
3 limes, separate uses
2 Tbs. corn oil
2-4 tortillas per person
1. Check for and remove and pin bones from the filets, pat dry.
2. Mix the chili powers, oregano, cumin, coriander, salt, and sugar together and sprinkle it evenly over both sides of the filets. Place the fillets in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.
Tip: I put all of the spices into my spice grinder (a coffee grinder dedicated to spices) and process them to a course powder. You may also toast the cumin and coriander before grinding.
3. About three before cooking, place the oil, lime juice, and zest of two limes in a shallow pan. Mix well and add the seasoned fillets. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Tip: Turn the fillets over every 30 minutes, so the juice mixture coats both side of the fish.
4. Remove the fillets from the lime juice and air dry for 30 minutes.
Tip: The lime juice may have washed off dome of the spices. Spoon the spices over the fillets. You are just trying to air dry the surface, so that the fish sears and does not steam on the barbecue. This would be a good time to start you coals if you are using briquettes.
5. Spread the coals evenly over the barbecue and grill the fish for 5-10 minutes per side (the time depends on the thickness of your fillets).
Tip: (Optional ) If you have any of the lime marinade left you may spoon it over the cooked side of the fish after you have turn them over.
Note: Once you start barbecuing fish, the fillets are very hard to turn over without them breaking apart and falling through the grill. A grill basket is a very useful tool to prevent this from happening.
6. Break the fillets into 1 to 2 inch pieces and place in a serving bowl.
7. Juice the third lime and sprinkle the juice over the fish. Toss to distribute and coat the fish with the juice.
8. Wrap the tortillas in a paper towel and microwave for one minute.
Tip: As soon as your remove the tortillas from the microwave open the paper towels and peel the individual tortillas apart. If you just let them stand, after microwaving, they may stick together as they cool into a solid mass.
9. Serve the fish and tortillas with your favorite condiments on the side.