My mom does not like to cook. She says it’s too much work and she really doesn’t care enough about eating to put forth the effort. (I must be my father’s daughter because I care a lot about eating… too much. I think about eating more than I think about dating, which is saying a lot considering I’m 30 and single and have zero prospects. It’s sick. It really is.) It’s a running joke in our family that my mom never cooks. She even has a sign above the microwave that says, “Life is too short to cook for you people.” And when I think about when I still lived at home, I can’t remember ever sitting down to the dinner table as a family, except on random Sundays. My mom just isn’t Suzy home-maker. She’s more like Suze Orman, career woman extraordinaire, minus the whole motivational speaker and lesbian thing.
But I don’t think she was always like this. I have memories of delicious foods that my mom made when we were little. Like these chicken wings that I would totally cheat on being a vegetarian for (and by would I mean have). And some sort of pepperoni stromboli. And what my family calls “Sarah’s favorite chicken.” She also made my lunch every day all the way through high school (and even after college when I lived at home for a while, she’d pack my lunch for work! I shouldn’t tell people that…). In elementary school there was always a little note in our lunch boxes. I also remember elaborate birthday parties with fun games and cute cakes.
So, I’m not really sure where or when my mom’s Martha Stewart tendencies went awry. But recently she decided that she was going to start cooking more. So she signed up for this thing called emeals, where they send you weekly meal plans complete with recipes and shopping lists. Anyway, one of the recipes was for salmon tacos. I tasted some of the leftover filling (I actually ate them with egg whites, sans taco shell, for breakfast) and it was so good!
I decided to re-create the recipe last night. I had my cousin, her husband and their two kids, and my brother all over for dinner. I was a little nervous because I don’t have a lot of experience cooking fish, nor do I have a grill (which the recipe called for), and the last few times I baked salmon it came out disgusting. But I borrowed a grill pan from my neighbor and friend, Kate, and blackened the fish beautifully! I’m not sure if I was intending to blacken the fish, if that’s how fish is properly blackened, or if I was even supposed to blacken the fish for recipe, but shiiiiz. It tasted amazing! And I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this meal was to make. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, so here’s my version of this delicious emeal.
SALMON AND POTATO TACOS
- 1 lb of red potatoes, or other small to medium waxy potatoes, cut into cubes (I had a variety of potatoes that a friend who has a CSA and was trying to offload some potatoes gave me. I also don’t know if I actually used a pound, but whatever)
- 3 frozen salmon filets, thawed
- 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
- 5-6 green onions, chopped
- 1 cup of fresh salsa (more or less to taste. the emeals recipe called for green salsa, but I just used fresh red salsa that was almost more like a pico de gallo than salsa)
- 1 lime
- 1 1/2 tsp of sugar
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
- a dash of chili powder
- 1 tbsp of Argentinian steak rub (ok, so the original recipe called for ground chipotle pepper. what is that? whatever it is, I don’t have it in my spice cabinet. but I found this steak rub at my mom’s and it looked good, so I stole it. I figured that by adding cayenne pepper and chili powder, I must be making something like chipotle pepper powder.)
- 8-10 corn tortillas, or whole wheat flour tortillas, warmed (I don’t really care for corn tortillas, so I served both kinds)
- Sour cream
Boil the potato cubes in a large pot of boiling, salted water, until they are tender (about 8 min). Drain and set aside to cool.
Combine sugar, salt, cayenne pepper, chili powder and Argentinian steak rub (or whatever you’re using) in a small bowl. Pat the salmon dry. Sprinkle the chili powder mix on the salmon, rubbing it in with your fingers. I mostly just applied it to the top, but I also got some of the sides.
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on a grill pan. Or if you’re using a real grill, heat the grill. Cook the salmon on the grill or grill pan over medium heat until cooked all the way through. I left mine sitting on the grill pan without flipping it for a good while, but I did move it around a bit so it wouldn’t be stuck. On the sides of the salmon, I could see that the color was changing from orange to pink, up through the salmon, so I could see that it was cooking through. My entire kitchen/apartment was full of smoke, so when the salmon was cooked almost all the way through, I flipped it and blackened the top pretty quickly. Is this proper technique for blackening fish? I have no idea. But it sure was effective in creating a thick black cloud of smoke throughout my apartment. Here’s a pic of the blackened salmon.
Once salmon is cooked, remove from grill and set aside for a few minutes. When it’s cooled off a bit, break it into large chunks. It should flake apart easily.
Combine the green onions, cilantro, and half of the salsa in a large bowl. Gently stir in the potatoes. Squeeze the juice from the lime over the potatoes. Add the rest of the salsa and the salmon. Gently mix it all together so that everything is evenly distributed through the bowl and the potatoes appear coated with salsa, lime juice, and cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve on warm tortillas with a dollop of sour cream and extra salsa, if desired.
Note: If you have extra taco fillings, I highly recommend serving them with egg whites. Delicious! You could even put the mixture on a skillet to slightly brown the potatoes, making them a little bit more like breakfast potatoes.
Note 2: My brother does not like seafood. So, I made him a piece of chicken on the side. I didn’t taste it (obviously) but it looked really good and he said he liked it. So I thought I should share how I made the chicken.
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, with the fat trimmed off
- 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce
- 1-2 tbsp of salsa fresca
Boil chicken until cooked all the way through. Drain the water and set chicken aside to cool. Once it’s cool enough to touch, pull apart the chicken so that it’s shredded.
Heat a bit of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the chicken. Add enchilada sauce and salsa over top of the chicken, stirring frequently so that it is coating the chicken and not burning on the pan.
And there you have it! Shredded chicken for tacos. I served them to Matt in corn tortillas with shredded cheese and some of the potato mixture (making sure not to get any salmon). I didn’t take a picture before Matt woofed it down.