Don't you just love all of the fresh, cool ingredients of summer dishes?
Our Young Chefs students went to work this past month making a variety of dishes from the International Kitchen to Cupcake Insanity, but one of the favorites was a delicious mix of refreshing & delectable ingredients that just screams "SUMMER!" during our Summertime Favorites Camp ~ Fish Tacos with delicious Watermelon & Pineapple Salsa.
This recipe packs a cool, sweet crunch with each bite.... Fish tacos are a savory dish "must" in the summer because fish are readily available.
Be sure to check out some of the YCA tips from the Test Kitchens at the end of the recipe!
Fish Tacos with Watermelon and Pineapple SalsaA Young Chefs® Academy Recipe
2 cups watermelon, small dice
2 cups pineapple, small dice
½ cup red onion, small dice
3 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
½ - 1 jalapeno pepper, ribs, seeds removed and small dice
¼ cup lime juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Tabasco sauce, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 romaine lettuce heart, thinly sliced
1 lb. flounder or any firm white-fleshed fish
½ cup milk
½ cup flour, preferably Wondra or other fine-milled flour
1 ½ tsp chili powder
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing pan
Pat of butter
12 (6-inch) fresh corn tortillas
Queso fresco or Monterrey jack cheese, to garnish
1 avocado, sliced
1 lime, sliced
Large mixing bowls
Sheet pan lined with a wire rack
Cast iron skillet
Warm, clean kitchen towel
Plate lined with paper towels
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the watermelon, pineapple, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime and olive oil. Toss to blend all of the flavors. Cover and refrigerate.
2. Slice the lettuce into thin strips. Cover and refrigerate.
3. Cut the fish into strips, about ½-inch wide and about 3 inches long. Cut the fish across the grain. Pour the milk into another medium bowl, and place the fish into it.
4. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, chili powder, salt and pepper.
5. Remove the fish pieces from the milk bath and dredge them lightly through the flour mixture, shaking to remove excess. Place the coated fish on a sheet pan lined with a wire rack. Transfer the fish to the freezer for 15-30 minutes.
6. Pour the vegetable oil into a 12-inch skillet and place over medium-high heat until it shimmers and is about to smoke. Add the butter to the pan. Place some fish pieces in the oil, without crowding them, and cook until deep golden brown on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn carefully and cook for 1 minute more.
7. Remove to a warmed plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining fish. Keep warm.
8. Meanwhile, lightly grease a skillet with a drizzle of oil and set over medium heat. Heat the tortillas, one or two at a time, until they are soft and hot. Keep them warm, wrapped in a clean dish towel.
9. When ready to serve the fish tacos, remove the watermelon salsa and lettuce from the refrigerator. Drain any excess juice from the watermelon salsa and toss the juice with the lettuce.
10. Taste the salsa and adjust the seasonings. Toss the lettuce with the fruit juices to coat.
11. To assemble the taco, take a warm tortilla, line with lettuce, top with 1-2 pieces of fish, sprinkle the salsa on top along with some queso fresco, sliced avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve while still hot.
Yield: about 12 tacos
TIPs from the Test Kitchen:
Why freeze the fish before frying?
- Once you have breaded the fish, shouldn’t it be ready to fry? It can be fried then, but it’s best to wait a few minutes. The resting gives the coating time to really adhere to the fish, which means it won’t come off or stick to the pan while cooking. It just provides a little extra insurance that your fish will turn out crispy, golden brown, and delicious. Isn’t that what we want?
- You can apply this technique to anything that is breaded and fried. Let it rest, either on the counter or in the freezer for up to 30 minutes. Watch what happens while it is resting. The flour becomes less visible and becomes absorbed by the liquid, which results in a super crispy crust, which is so worth the wait.
How do you keep your fish warm but not soggy?
- pan fried fish will keep in the oven on a low temp (200°F-250°F)
- do not cover it – if you put foil over it the crisp coating on the outside can turn soggy
- it will be fine for a little while – while you are warming the tortillas
- Make sure you warm the tortillas on a grill or griddle
- Corn tortillas are much different than flour and need to be warmed on the stove top before eating
- They will fall apart and make a mess if warmed in the microwave
- They are made with corn and no flour so they don’t have the elasticity of the gluten from the flour