Birthday Fish Tacos

This past weekend marked Mom’s __th birthday, celebrated just the way she likes, with all her chicks back in the nest on Cape Cod. Since Mom is rather difficult to shop for, I kept to what I know and made her dinner – Birthday Fish Tacos with a Carrot and Cabbage slaw, Black Bean and Hominy salad and a homemade “crema lima.”  This dish is easy, inexpensive, and loaded with vibrant and flavorful raw vegetables. It’s hot and cold, crunchy and soft, spicy and mild and has ingredients that can be easily swapped out for picky or sensitive palettes. Long story short…crowd pleaser.

This dinner was a team effort, so after we perched Mom on the couch with some tune-age, we all (armed with plenty of wine and SoCo) took off in separate directions like oil and vinegar.  The men congregated around the BBQ (despite heavy rains!) and we ladies set up shop in the kitchen to make the salads. The result was a perfectly balanced family-style meal . Check out the recipes below, which have been adjusted to feed about 4 people.


For my version of these tacos, I was lucky enough to have salmon, halibut and shrimp on hand, and even luckier, had Dad on hand to grill the seafood with smoky Mesquite wood chips for insanely intense flavor.

  • 8 oz filet of fish – Halibut, Salmon preferred.  Local options: Hake, Bluefish, Cod. Cheap option: Tilapia
  • 1 lb shrimp (frozen is fine but de-shell and de-vein before grilling)
  • McCormicks Cajun Seasoning
  • Cayanne Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 3 T Olive Oil
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Slice fish into 2-3 inch filets against the grain, rinse and pat dry, put into gallon Ziplock with shrimp (fresh or frozen). Put back in frig.

For marinade: In a small bowl, mix juice of 2 limes, olive oil, 2 taps of Cayanne, 2 taps of paprika and 1/4 canister of McCormick’s Cajun (seems like a lot, but just trust me).  It should be pasty but not dry. Add more oil or a splash of whatever you are drinking to thin it out, or dump in more spices if it needs a charge up. Be sure to taste it to see what the salt/pepper situation is, add S & P accordingly.  It should taste really intense since it’s a marinade.

Pour mixture over fish and shrimp and shake bag around so all seafood is coated. Keep in frig and hold off on cooking until salads are done, about 30 mins. (We’re getting there.)

To BBQ: call your Dad to prepare and insanely hot and smokey grill for you.  While he does this, create 2 foil boats (1 for fish, 1 for shrimp) so that the marinade doesn’t escape once you place the seafood down on grill- nothing fancy. Once BBQ is ready, set foil boat on grill rack and place just the fish filets to cook, about 4-7 mins on each side (depends on thickness of fish).  Remove and add the second foil boat with shrimp and cook 2 minutes on each side. Do them separately since shrimp cook wicked fast.

If Dad is not available/Stovetop Instructions: Heat large frying on med-high. The pan is ready if you flick water into it and it spits.  Don’t add oil or butter because marinade already has considerable amount. Add just the fish filets using instructions above.  Once cooked, keep filets under foil or in low heat oven while you cook shrimp.

While the fish marinates…make salads

Carrot and Cabbage Slaw

  • 1 small red cabbage, or 1/2 large cabbage (don’t buy the pre-shredded)
  • 1 bag of pre-shredded carrots
  • 1 box crystallized ginger (in the dried fruit/nut section)
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 chop cilantro, rough chopped
  • 4 T Olive oil
  • Salt/Pepper

In a small bowl, wisk vingear, olive oil and salt and pepper. Taste. The rule is 1 part acid to 2 parts oil, so adjust this based on your salad size.

Slice cabbage into thin pieces to match carrots.  Be sure to remove white core. Thinly chop about 12 pieces of ginger. In large bowl toss carrots, cabbage, ginger, cilantro and vinaigrette so salad is coated evenly. Place on dinner table.

Black Bean and Hominy salad:

Black Bean and Hominy with Cilantro and Red Onion

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can hominy
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/4 c cilantro, rough chopped
  • 3 T Olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime

Drain and rinse beans and hominy (can substitute yellow corn). Toss all ingredients together. Place on dinner table.

Crema Lima

Sounds fancy, super simple.

Crema Lima

  •   juice of 1 lime
  •  1 canister creme fraiche or sour cream
  •  salt

In a small bowl mix creme fraiche, lime juice and pinch a salt. Should smooth, runny and  super tangy.

Serve meal buffet-style with warm corn and flour tortillas.

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