With only 1 more sleep until I leave for the great state of Texas, I have to admit: I’m getting a wee bit nervous.
Oh yeah. I’m going to Texas next week. Did I tell you that? No? I know I’ve been kind of MIA lately so it’s possible I forgot to mention it. So yeah. I’m truckin’ South, ‘yall to the state where size definitely does matter.
Luckily I’m the kind of girl who can handle them big.
You see, I’m not foreign to the concept of big meat, big trucks, big oil, big skies, big belt buckles, big hair or big hats. I did grow up in Alberta, after all.
….Shhh, we’ll keep that between us. As far as anyone else is concerned, I’m a B.C. girl, through and through, capiche?
But yeah, spending my first 25 years in the wild-rose province has more or less prepared me for some serious Texas debauchery. Or at least, some serious Texas BBQ. Hells yeah.
What I’m unfamiliar with though are big snakes, big guns, big militarism, big football, big Christians, big state pride and big temperatures. I’m not really a fan of any of those things. Partly because I don’t understand some of them and partly because some of them simply aren’t my scene.
I just don’t fancy sweating my balls off with a saw’d off, surrounding myself with judgmental people who hold ultra-conservative ideals which go against everything I hold dear, while monolithic reptiles assign us to the dinner menu.
Okay, I’m being a bit extreme here. X-Games style.
But I’m just sayin… I’ve never been to Texas. I honestly never thought I’d go to Texas. And now I am. Because John gets to pitch a pilot at the ATX Festival in Austin. And I’ll get to support him, eat at every food truck in the city and hopefully find a decently air conditioned bar (or 8) in which to bevy up.
It’s going to be a time!
You know what ELSE was a time? These fresh Ahi tuna fish tacos with smoky adobo crema & crunchy red cabbage coleslaw.
Aside from the hipster hotties (do people still say “hotties”?), the best thing about living in Vancouver is having access to super fresh, Oceanwise seafood. Like tuna. I don’t eat tuna too often because of the high levels of mercury the meat contains* but when I do, I sear it barely rare and enjoy lasciviously with a big bottle of dry Rosé. Or in this case, a slightly off-dry, pleasantly acidic Gewürztraminer to balance the spices in the dish.
Whatever you do, grab a bottle of something cold and make sure to ask your fish monger if their tuna is sashimi grade and only buy Ahi, Yellowfin or Albacore varieties. Frozen, canned or sub-par tuna is not an option here. Bluefin tuna is never an option (it’s fished almost to extinction).
If you don’t have access to sustainably caught, fresh, sashimi grade Ahi, Yellowfin or Albacore tuna, any sustainable fish can be subbed in. Just make sure it’s not previously frozen and something you’ll savour.
Because that’s what life’s about right? Even in Texas.
Fresh Tuna Fish Tacos with Adobo Crema & Red Cabbage Slaw
Yield 4 tacos
- 1 Lb sashimi grade Ahi tuna (or really, any fish or prawns of your choice)
- Fresh corn tortillas
- 1 Small red cabbage
- 1/2 C Apple cider vinegar
- Small handful of green onions or chives, finely chopped
- 1/2 Small red onion, finely diced
- 2 adobo peppers, finely chopped
- 1 C sour cream
- Lil sugar
- Coarse sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
- Lil smoked paprika
- GMO-free veggie or canola oil for frying
To garnish & serve:
- 2 Small to medium sized cobs of fresh corn
- Avocados, sliced
- Cilantro, roughly chopped
- Lots of fresh limes, cut into wedges
For the slaw:
- Cut the cabbage in half and remove the core. Using a mandolin, finely matchstick the cabbage. Toss in a bowl with 1/2 of the apple cider vinegar, lil sugar, red onion, chives, fennel seeds and salt and pepper. Mix well. Taste. If it needs more acid, sweetness or seasoning, adjust to taste. It should be flavourful and delicious.
For the tacos:
- Fill a deep pot with water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the corn cobs. Boil until the kernels are tender, approx 4-7 minutes depending on the age of the corn. Fresher corn will cook faster. Drain and allow to cool so you can handle them. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cob and set aside.
- Pour the oil into that same pot, leaving at least 1/3 head space. You only need a couple inches or so. Place over medium-high heat. The oil is ready when you drop a a cube of white bread in the oil and it browns in 30 seconds. If it browns faster, turn down your heat and as always, have a fire extinguisher near by whenever you fry. I don’t want you to burn your house down. If it takes longer than 30 seconds, wait and try again in a couple minutes.
- Once the oil is hot, you can shallow fry the tortillas to make them super crispy and golden. Carefully place the tortillas in the oil, one or two at a time depending on the size of your pot (don't over crowd them) and fry about 45 seconds per side. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and smoked paprika. Set aside until all tortillas are done.
- When the tortillas are almost finished, heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Season both sides of your fish well with salt and pepper. Drizzle a little oil in the pan. When nice and hot (but not smoking), place the seasoned fish in the pan. Sear only long enough to create a nice brown colour on the outside of the fish; you want your tuna raw in the middle. Flip, do the same on the second side. It will only take a minute or two per side, tops. Remove from heat and let sit for a minute or so. With a very sharp knife, cut against the grain into 1/4" slices. Set aside.
For the crema:
- Just before dinner is ready, mix together the sour cream, adobo peppers, zest and juice of a lime and a pinch of salt. Serve along side the cooked corn, tuna, cilantro, limes, slaw and if desired, a few beers.
This should serve 4 people, 3 tacos each.You can make the slaw up to two days in advance; the longer it sits, the more tender the slaw will become. If you let it sit for more than a day, the salt and sugar will cure the cabbage, pulling the moisture out of the cabbage and pooling in the bowl. No biggie, just drain it through a fine mesh strainer.You can forgo the frying if you want your tacos soft. Just place a pan over low on the stove and dry heat the tortillas, about 20 seconds per side. Fold in a damp towel once they're warm until all the tortillas are done and you're ready to eat.
Have you ever been to Texas? What do I need to know? Where should I go in Austin? Where have you gone that you never expected you would? Where would you like to go? Like tacos? How ’bout tuna? What goes in your tacos? Spill it!
* If you’re into knowing more about where your seafood comes from, what you should eat and what you should steer clear of, Taras Grescoe’s BottomFeeder is by far one of the most interesting and helpful books out there. I’ve read it repeatedly. I think you’ll like it.