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Halibut Tacos with Tequila-lime Marinade


It’s becoming apparent, isn’t it? We eat our share of seafood.  In these pages what you’ll mostly see is what I get excited about – and this time of year it’s the bountiful variety of fresh-picked produce, grown nearby – and  fresh fish, line-caught. Yesterday felt remarkably like – well, summer – and fish tacos seemed like such a festive way to celebrate a day so beautiful.

Halibut Tacos with Tequila-lime Marinade & Red Cabbage Slaw

(serves 4 ~ or more)

For the red cabbage slaw

  • 3/4 pound red cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves and stems, roughly chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the tequila-lime marinade

  • 1 lime, first zested, then juiced (about 1 tsp. zest and 2 Tbl. juice)
  • 2 Tablespoons tequila
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 small jalapeños, halved, seeds and membranes removed, sliced crosswise into half rings
  • 1 small red onion, cut into thin half moons (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the halibut

  • 1 pound halibut fillet, skinned
  • 1 Tablespoon high-heat vegetable oil

For the taco bar

  • Flour tortillas, warmed
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole (for a quick, easy home-made version see NOTE below)
  • Extra limes

To prepare the slaw, toss the cabbage with the salt. Place in a colander and put the colander in the sink. Using a bowl that fits well into the colander, fill with water and place on top of the shredded cabbage.  The weight of the water-filled bowl will force moisture from the cabbage, concentrating its flavor.

In a large bowl, mix together the shredded apple, mustard seeds, cilantro, vinegar and olive oil. Then, using your hands, lift the cabbage and squeeze it well. Rinse the salt from the cabbage with plenty of water, then squeeze again, getting all the liquid out. Combine the cabbage with the rest of the slaw ingredients, stir and season with salt if needed. Set aside.

To prepare the marinade, combine all of its ingredients in a small bowl.

To prepare the halibut, place it in a large pan (glass or ceramic preferably) and pour the marinade over the fillet. Set aside for 20 minutes.

In a grill pan or sauté pan over high heat, add the vegetable oil. Add the halibut, reserving the marinade, and cook until the fish is browned on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully flip the halibut over and continue cooking until the fish is not quite yet flaking (in other words, just slightly underdone. It will continue to cook removed from the heat.) Total cooking time will be about 8 minutes per inch of fish, measured at the thickest part. Transfer the fish to a platter. Then add the reserved marinade to the pan (or get a fresh pan if you grilled the fish) and cook the marinade over high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the onions and jalapeños are beginning to char. Then pile this mixture back onto the fish (which should be just perfectly flaking by now.)

Set up your taco bar with warmed tortillas, the red cabbage slaw, halibut, hot sauce, guacamole and sour cream, limes and sprigs of cilantro.

(NOTE: to make your own guacamole, very simply, smash the flesh of 2 ripe avocados with a fork. Add about 1-1/2 Tbl. lime juice, 3/4 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. of hot sauce such as Tobasco. I like to add also a small amount of minced red onion and chopped cilantro. Taste as you go and you’ll know just what to add to make it perfect for you.)

This is one more tasty pick from a wonderful book:  Good Fish by Becky Selengut.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. MariAnna #

    This looks delicious!

    June 12, 2011
  2. Ashley #

    Mama, what?! This is gorgeous. I love your hands in this last photo, too, and the shades of summer throughout. Turquoise, apple green…Mercy, this looks and sounds so delicious!

    June 12, 2011
  3. Ali #

    Okay these look amazing!! Add these to the long list of things I MUST make from this site!!

    June 12, 2011
  4. #1spreek #

    This fish taco preparation is absolutely outrageous. Soooo good. Don’t forget to guac.

    June 19, 2011
  5. Ali #

    Time to chime in…
    For Father’s Day, we had a picnic down by the river with some dear friends. What would we serve to tell these dear dads how special they are?! Halibut Fish Tacos! I prepared everything at home and simply threw the fish and charred fix-in’s in some tin foil and let them heat up again on the camping stove/bbq. And boy oh boy, these did not disappoint. Even the kids licked their fingers after eating the less expensive cod version. I chopped the jalapenos finely enough that even my two year old son who thinks everything is spicy, didn’t seem to notice. You know they say everything tastes better when you’re camping, so we thought we better put it to the test. With all the leftover slaw we had (it makes a ton), we opted for fish tacos two nights in a row. (lucky us!) We concluded these tacos are the best wherever they are served. Putting a little love on the table was easy with this recipe!

    June 21, 2011
    • Ali, I loved hearing about your fish taco fathers day! So happy to hear they were a hit – though of course, not much of a surprise since I tasted them first! : ) But now I’m itchin’ to taste them around the campfire! Nothing like that is there! Thanks for the comments! – and the good reminder that there’s plenty of slaw for leftovers.

      June 21, 2011
  6. Can you believe these photos? The colors are intoxicating! Fresh fresh fresh is what you deliver, Spree! Everything is so touchable. And I get all this itchiness inside. Like I want to eat up all your food. Like I want to chop purples and greens. There is such incomparable sensory pleasure on this site. Where have I ever seen a more tender and seductive tortilla than the one photographed in your hand?!?!

    Cooking-Spree is the creme de la creme.

    June 21, 2011

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