Thursday we had a friend visiting from London and I needed to make an impromptu dinner, Mexican food came to mind as there isn’t a lot of Mexican food in London. I love fish tacos and am always excited to try new ways of preparing the fish, for the tacos. Grilling can sometimes yield dry fish, battering the fish can be overwhelming making it seem more like fried batter tacos.
Luckily this time, thanks in part to Bobby Flay I think I got closer to mastering the art of fish taco making.
To round the meal out I made black beans in my Olla and Green rice. I have made Arroz Verde many times, but it’d been a while so I wanted to check a few recipes. My first go to person for Mexican is always Diana Kennedy, I own two of her cookbooks, Oaxaca al Gusto and From My Mexican Kitchen the later is the one I use most often. So I look in the index for Arroz verde: page 153. On the right hand top of page 153 is a green box with text in it that takes up about a quarter of the page. She describes what it is and then recommends three recipes in three of her other cookbooks! I thought this was very grand. Then as I read down the page she throws us a bone and says well you can make Arroz Blanco (recipe on the opposite page) and add a cup of puréed pepper and herbs after stage one (no guidance on which peppers or herbs). It seemed to me a slightly begrudging way to give a recipe, I’d never read in a cookbook where someone referenced their other cookbooks for recipes.
The very next day I get an email from my friend Philip, his friend and Urbanfoodguy reader Barbara had sent along an article for me to read about, you guessed it: Diana Kennedy. As I read more about her (in this wonderful article by Vice‘s Mexican food correspondent and editor Daniel Hernandez), I realized that she isn’t grand she is just so thorough that to her there isn’t just one recipe for anything, let alone arroz verde. What I had initially taken as arrogance was indeed just her acknowledging the expansiveness of this cuisine and cultural. Which made me even more of a fan than I already was.
Then I got to the section talking about Diana’s unfiltered comments, criticisms and blunt opinions about chefs and restaurants:
Pujol, (click the link and watch the video!) the Enrique Olvera success story that is still considered the top restaurant in the city, garnered only a nodding reference. Contramar, though, was among a few restaurants that Kennedy deemed worthy. “A very high standard, very well-prepared seafood,” Kennedy told Lida. “I like the tostadas with fresh tuna.”
Contramar was my favorite restaurant in Mexico City when I visited and I’ve made a version of the tostadas with fresh tuna recipe many times, its brilliant and very simple, a tostada, chipotle mayonnaise and raw Tuna, topped with slices of avocado, and crunchy fried leeks. Not sure why, but the fact that we both agreed on this made me trust her more, gave me a further insight into her taste and aesthetic.
Diana Kennedy has been indefatigable in her exploration of Mexican cuisine and all the cultural, historical, political, geographic and ethnographic things that have influenced it. I’m so glad this random article came my way, thanks Barbra and Philip! I have owned two cookbooks by Ms. Kennedy and was really glad to be motivated to finally learn more about this amazing women.
Talk about a long preamble to a recipe! This is a very slight variation on Bobby Flay’s recipe for…
In a large bowl add: 1/4 cup of unflavored oil (almost anything but Olive Oil, if you use Canola use Organic otherwise it is a GMO), 1 Tablespoon of Lime Juice, 1 Tablespoon of Guajillo chili pepper (or Ancho, Guajillo has more heat) 2 Tablespoons roughly chopped Cilantro and 1 large Jalapeno roughly chopped seeds and all. To the marinade add 1 pound of Cod or any other flaky white fish.
Marinate for 20 or so minutes.
While the fish soaks up the marinade wrap 4 organic corn and 4 flour tortillas in tin foil and warm them in the oven.
Heat a grill pan (or a grill if you have outside space) over high heat about 5 minutes before the fish is ready. Place the fish on the grill and cook for 4 minutes, flip the fish and cook another 2 or so minutes. The Cod will start to clearly flake on the grill.
Yes I know that Guacamole is spelt wrong on the board. I need to figure out how to get spell check on my chalk board 😉