Tilapa Tacos with Chipotle Mayo, Fruit Salsa and Honey-Cumin Cilantro Slaw

I don't usually do 2 food columns this close together, but with working on the final copy for the next VFE print collectible plus 3 articles I need to finalize for a U.S. publication, there just hasn't been much time to spend on my blog. So here is how I spent 2 hours in the kitchen yesterday.

I love my food to be interesting. I don't mean wild and weird, I just get bored easily and like variety. I am happy as a lark having a can of soup and toast one day, but the next day has to be different. Having a few great recipe books really helps to spark the imagination and I've been able to find ones that give me lots of great options that don't take more than 30 or 40 minutes in the kitchen. One day I'm going to do a column on all the recipes I have found that start with a store bought roasted deli chicken.

Sometimes, but not often, the urge comes upon me to try something that requires a lot more time. I used to love making all our family's bread and committed every Monday to the process. There was something about the smell of yeast from the rising dough that made me smile. Add in the aroma of fresh bread baking and Mondays were a very happy day until I just got too busy to keep it up. Now it's very rare that I commit a couple of hours to cooking, but last night was one.

I've been exploring different recipes for fish tacos and in general leaned towards the ones with fish that had been BBQ as a healthier option, but this time went for the coating and the fry pan. It actually turned out great. I still don't feel this is the final ultimate fish taco recipe that will be my all-time favourite, but everyone at the table gave it a thumbs up - always a good sign. I served it with a Spanish Quinoa recipe I found to round out the meal, but that recipe is not ready to be shared yet as it needs some adjusting.

The recipe I used as a basis was a bit different and I will include the link to the original version at the bottom. There was no fruit salsa and the honey cumin is actually brushed on the fish after cooking. I also was given a bit of help in that I found both the Chipotle Mayo and a package with half pineapple/half mango in the produce section at Sav-on Foods. As this recipe can be very time consuming, I would make the mayo and chop all individual ingredients the day before. The coleslaw and fresh fruit salsa only need about an hour to combine flavours and then they start getting wet.

Tilapa Tacos with Chipotle Mayo, Fruit Salsa and Honey-Cumin Cilantro Slaw
Makes 12 tacos

Chipotle Mayo (I was fortunate to find this pre-made at Sav-on Foods in the produce section)
1/2 cup mayo
2 chipotle chilies in adobo suace
1 T adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
(optional 1/4 cup mayo)

Fresh Mango-Pineapple Salsa
6 oz Mango diced
6 oz pineapple diced
2 medium tomatos diced
1/2 medium milder onion such as Walla Walla or Spanish, diced
2 lg. Jalapeno Peppers diced
1 Large lime (or 2 small limes)
Salt and pepper to taste

Honey-Cumin Cilantro Slaw
4 cups 3-colour coleslaw blend
1 cup Fesh cilantro leaves minced
4 Green onions chopped
2 Jalapeno peppers minced
1 T Honey
1/2 tsp Cumin

6 Tilapa fellets (original recipes cuts them in cubes, but I like them fried whole and then but into long spears – a really attractive presentation and simpler to fry.
1/2 cup Fresh lime juice
Salt and crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper
2 Eggs beaten
2 cups Panko crumbs
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup Vegetable oil for frying
12 Small flour tortillas - I used wheat

Marinate the fish fillets in the lime juice, salt and either cayenne pepper or crush red papper flakes. You can adjust these last 3 to your taste. The original recipe said 4 hours, but I have always read not to leave fish in lime for that long as it cooks, so I did just an hour

To make the chipotle mayo - mix mayonnaise, chipotle chilies and adobo sauce in a food processor. Set in refrigerator for a least an hour to blend flavors.

To make the fresh Mango Pineapple Salsa - combine mango, pineapple, onion, tomatos and jalapenos in a glass dish. Cut lime in half and squeeze over the mixture until all juice has been added. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and put in refrigerator for an hour to blend flavours.

To make the coleslaw - add the coleslaw mix, cilantro, jalapenos and green onions to a bowl. I took 1/4 cup of the chipotle mayo and mixed it with 1/4 cup regular mayonnaise. It took the heat level down just a bit as not everyone in my family likes it really hot. I also didn't want the chipotle flavour to overpower the taco, but you will need to experiment to get it right for you.  Stir in the cumin and honey. Then mix with the coleslaw. I wouldn't do this too far ahead of time as you don't want the cabbage to wilt.

Set out 3 small plates - one with the flour, one with the eggs and one with the panko crumbs. Put a large skillet on the stove and heat the oil to medium heat (about 365 degrees F, 185 C). Take 3 of the fish fillets. Place in flour turning over until coated, shake off excess, then dip in the eggs and finally press into the panko crumbs until covered in even coat. Fry in the oil until golden brown on each side, then place on a paper town lined plate to drain. I set this plate in a warm oven to keep the fish hot while I cook the rest. Repeat with last 3 fish fillets.

To serve - cut a Tilapa fillet in half lengthwise like a long spear. Take 2 heated small tortillas. Put a small amount of chipotle mayo on each. Place one of the cut Tilapa spears on the chipotle mayo in each tortilla. Add fruit salsa and top with the coleslaw.  Repeat with the remaining 5 fillets. Another option is to put plates of everything on the table or buffet and let the guests assemble them.

This does take time, but once and awhile it's great to put food on the table that took real effort. A link to the original recipe is below, but I really like the addition of the fruit salsa and found it easier to put the honey in the slaw that try and brush on the fish after frying.

Bon Appetit!