Tag Archives: cilantro

I Told a Fib. Okay, a Lie. – Braised Pork Belly Tacos

Today I told a fib (okay a lie), and I blamed it on the kids. Well, the puppy that is.

I’ve been riding up a storm lately because it’s beautiful out and I’m very lucky to have incredible horses available to me. I’m hopelessly in love with the four-legged boys of the equine variety, and have resorted to my Tween habits of thumbing longingly through the Dover saddlery catalog and making notes of all the things I would buy if I won the lottery.  As such, I’ve been gone a lot lately, and have not seen much of my boys of the two and four-legged human/canine variety.

Monsieur LaCroix

I’m off this weekend to Walla Walla for a girl’s trip of food, wine, and general gluttony, so any chance of catching up this weekend will have to be satisfied with late night silly text messages that don’t make any sense the next morning.  Which is all to say that when I realized I was leaving tomorrow, and I hadn’t seen Matt all week, and the only thing standing in front of me and him and Duke and Onca enjoying a delicious picnic on the lake was Puppy School….

…I told a fib.

Okay a lie.

Duke has had a cough, so I slightly bent the truth and said he still had a cough and therefore we couldn’t come to class. How powerful a change of tense can be. If you’re reading this Linda…I apologize.

I know I’m being very silly. No one but me would make up a tall tale to get out of elective puppy school, but there you have it.  I told a fib…okay a lie. And so with that, we packed ourselves up, loaded up the picnic basket with a bottle of wine, some meats and cheeses, and the leftover fixings from possibly the most delicious Pork Belly Tacos I’ve ever had. To be fair (and HONEST), I don’t think I’ve ever had pork belly tacos…but these were pretty freaking good. They are wildly unhealthy, so don’t do them all the time, but for a summer picnic on the lake, these finger licking bundles are about as good as it gets. No lie.

Braised Pork Belly Tacos
Adapted from Have Knives, Will Cook
4-6 Servings

For the pork:
2-½ lbs. boneless skinless pork belly
1 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
1 c. white distilled vinegar
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
crushed red pepper (optional)
salt & pepper

For the toppings bar:
Sliced Avocado
Salsa
Thinly Sliced Red Cabbage
8 ounces reduced-fat sour cream
1/8 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper
Lime Wedges
Soft corn tortillas

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the rack in the center of the oven.

2.  Lightly score the pork belly on the fat side by making a few 1/8″ deep cuts.  Generously season the pork belly with salt and pepper.  In a large cast-iron skillet or dutch oven, put the mean fat side down over medium heat. Slightly sear on both sides or until a pale golden brown.

3. Remove the meat from the pan and cut into 6-8 pieces, about 4 oz each. Drain the excess fat from the pan and return the meat, positioning with the fat side down.  Add the orange juice, vinegar, garlic, and a pinch of crushed red pepper so that the liquid comes halfway up the pieces of meat. Cover the skillet tightly with aluminum foil (not necessary if using a dutch oven) and bake in the oven 1-2 hours until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork. Flip the meat halfway through.

4. While the meat cooks, prepare the garnishes. To make the Cilantro Lime Crema, mix the cilantro, lime, and sour cream.

5. When the pork is cooked, let it rest covered in the cooking liquid for 5-10 minutes before pulling apart.  Once it has rested, shred the meat with a pair of forks, or your fingers and mix it with just enough of the braising liquid to coat each morsel.  Add salt to taste.

6.  Heat the tortillas one at a time in a dry skillet (cast iron works best) over medium-low heat until they are soft and keep them warm, wrapped in aluminum foil or a clean towel.

7. Serve the tortillas, the meat, and the toppings bar and let folks go to town.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Lactose Free, Uncategorized

Shockingly good: Baja fish tacos with white sauce, mozzarella, and cilantro

(3/17/2012 Update: If you like these…see here for some great pix and more fish taco fun.)

There are certain foods that I constantly order at restaurants because:

a) I love them.
b) I’ve always imagined they would be hard to make.
c) I’m afraid if I did make them, they wouldn’t be as good as the restaurant variety.

Fish tacos are one of these such items. Stupidly simple and shockingly good, I fell in love with them when we traveled to Sayulita, Mexico for the first time. The combination of the earthy corn tortilla, buttery battered and fried fish, tangy white sauce, and crisp cabbage was so exquisite I quickly found myself eating nothing but fish tacos for every meal. Since returning to Seattle I’ve been on the hunt for a great fish taco. Luckily, I found it at our new local mexican eatery, Huarachitas Mexican Taqueria.  A darling restaurant, with fabulous food, it is absolutely worth checking out.

That said, after going there multiple times in one month (I refuse to disclose just how many), Matt put his foot down that we needed to go to other restaurants. And so…determined to keep up my fish taco quota, I decided to try and make them.

The results were, dare I say, even better than Huarachitas. These are particularly fun to make for a dinner party where you can allow people to assemble exactly the combination that they like. I served these with champagne, and a nachos appetizer, (because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love champagne and nachos). It was, admittedly, slightly overkill so you could likely serve these without the nacho beginnings and simply cold mugs of beer.

Baja Fish Tacos

Serves 4 (hungry people)

Step 1: Tortillas

True diehards make their own tortillas. This has always felt to me like a poor use of time so you can just buy them at the grocery store. Even better is if there is a little Mexican grocer  or restaurant around you who will let you buy them directly from them. I prefer corn but flour is fine too. When it’s time to eat you can either heat the tortillas up via a hot, dry pan or by microwaving the stack of tortillas between damp paper towels for 30 seconds.

Step 2: The White Sauce & Toppings

This is where the real magic takes place. The white sauce, or crema, is sinfully delicious.

White Sauce:

  • Fresh lime juice to taste (I like about 2 TB)
  • ½ cup yogurt or sour cream
  • ½ mayonnaise
  • 1 TB Sriracha hot sauce (or something similar)
  • ½ teaspoon – crushed oregano
  • ½ teaspoon – ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon – dried, crushed dill
  • ½ teaspoon – ground cayenne chile
  • ground white pepper to taste

Combine the first three ingredients, aiming for a slightly runny consistency.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.

Toppings:

1/2 bundle cilantro

2 cups red cabbage

1 cup mozzarella

1 lime

Coarsely chop cilantro and set aside in small bowl for toppings. Dice mozzarella or queso fresco and set aside in separate bowl. Cut up the cabbage.  Slice as thinly as possible so the strands still stay together. Set aside in bowl. Quarter the limes and serve one wedge with each plate.

Step 3: The Fish

Cod works well, although you can use whatever white fish you prefer. Since it’s going to be battered and fried this is a great opportunity to take advantage of whatever is on sale.

2 LB White Fish washed, patted dry, and cut into 1 inch strips

Batter:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 can beer, not dark

Combine flour and salt, then add beer.  It should be relatively thick, which was nice since the batter actually stayed on the fish when we fried it.

Fill large saucepan with vegetable oil or lard. You want enough that the fish can be submerged in it. Get it nice and hot and cook the fish in batches, being certain not to crowd the pan as you want the oil to stay hot.

Turn the fish after about a minute.  Look for the color to decide when to remove.  As soon as it’s golden, you’re good to go.  Remove and place on a plate with a paper towel to drain.

Serve immediately with tortillas, white sauce, and toppings.  Enjoy.

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Filed under Seafood, Uncategorized