Spice up Cinco de Mayo!
By Jessica Karley
Forum News Service
Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner. Instead of celebrating the Mexican victory over the French Army, most of us in the U.S. spend the day celebrating the bold cuisine that our neighbors to the south introduced us to.
This year, we will be enjoying tostadas. In my house, they are also known as “flat tacos.” They couldn’t be easier to make! My favorite version is Blackened Salmon Tostadas.
Another bonus to this Cinco de Mayo treat is that it’s actually good for you. The corn tortillas are baked instead of fried, and my Creamy Lime Coleslaw is made with shredded red cabbage, Greek yogurt and fresh lime juice.
The blackened seasoning for the fish is made from a blend of smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, oregano and kosher salt.
Those spices are certainly not black in color when they are mixed together, but after the flesh side of the fish fillets are coated with the seasoning, they are seared in a cast iron skillet until cooked through and easily flaked with a fork.
The crispy baked tostadas are topped with the creamy lime slaw, spicy blackened fish and chopped cilantro.
Plan on serving about two tostadas per person (or three, if you love fish tacos as much as I do).
The fish in this recipe can be substituted with any swimming creature. We’ve made them with cod, shrimp, mahi mahi, tilapia and even walleye. They all turned out great.
To wash down the delicious tostadas, I also created a special drink for the holiday.
I originally planned on calling it a “Bloody Maria,” as in a Mexican Bloody Mary, but after seeing me make it, a friend agreed that “Once Around the Mexican Kitchen” was a pretty good name, too.
It starts with two of my favorite Mexican ingredients: jalapenos and cilantro. They are muddled in a shaker glass until broken up and smashed-looking (that’s the best way to describe it).
Then, the mixture gets kicked up with jarred jalapeno juice, Worcestershire sauce, chipotle hot pepper sauce (I use Tabasco Cholula brand), cracked black pepper, Clamato juice and fresh-squeezed lime juice.
Add a little tequila and shake with ice until frosty and cold. The tasty concoction is served over ice in a glass rimmed with chipotle-seasoned sea salt and topped off with your favorite light-colored Mexican beer.
Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
• • •
Karley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her food blog at EverydayGourmet.AreaVoices.com.
BLACKENED SALMON TOSTADAS
4 6- to 8-oz. salmon fillets
1/4 cup paprika
2 tsp. cayenne pepper (or use chili powder, if you don’t like the heat)
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
8 6-inch corn tortillas
1 10-oz. bag shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Juice and zest from 1 lime
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. agave nectar (or honey)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray corn tortillas with pan spray and lay on baking sheet. Bake 5-8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, in medium-sized mixing bowl, combine red cabbage, Greek yogurt, lime juice, zest, vinegar, agave, second amount of kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Mix until evenly combined and store in fridge.
In small bowl, combine paprika, cayenne, thyme, oregano and first amount of kosher salt. Sprinkle seasoning over flesh side of fish fillets and set aside.
Heat cast iron skillet over high heat with grapeseed oil. When oil begins to smoke, add fish, flesh-side down to skillet. Turn off heat and let fish sear 3 minutes. Turn heat back on to high, flip fish and cook additional 2-3 minutes or until fillets are cooked through and can easily be flaked with a fork. Remove from heat and flake into a serving bowl.
To assemble tostadas: Top each corn tortilla with 1/3 cup slaw, 1/4 cup flaked fish and 1 Tbsp. of chopped cilantro. Garnish with any toppings you like. Some of my favorites are avocados, green onion, tomatoes and sour cream.
BLOODY MARIA or “ONCE AROUND THE MEXICAN KITCHEN”
1 fresh jalapeño, cut into rings, seeds still intact
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup jarred or pickled jalapeño juice
1 Tbsp. chipotle hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 cups Clamato juice, chilled
1/2 cup tequila
Juice from one lime
Light colored Mexican beer, chilled
Lime wedges for garnish
In shaker glass, combine jalapeño and cilantro. Mix. Add all ingredients except beer. Add ice cubes and top with shaker lid. Shake until well-chilled and combined. Pour over ice into glasses rimmed with chipotle sea salt. (If not available, use 1/4 cup kosher salt mixed with 1 tsp. chipotle chili powder.) Divide beer among glasses and garnish with a fresh lime wedge.