I’m running very late today – we’re still quite swamped at work and the Insomnia Fairy decided to pay me a visit last night; I’m operating on about 3 hours of sleep.
Oh, menopause, how I hate you.
Anyhoo. I’ve talked here before about the famed 80/20 rule, made popular by Mark Sisson. Basically, if you eat “cleanly” 80% of the time, the other 20% you don’t doesn’t impact your health too terribly badly. Some people use their 20% leeway to consume things like beer, pizza and Snickers bars; we tend to use our 20% to eat things like Blackberry Buckle and Western Style Beans, along with the occasional serving of corn, rice or white potatoes.
This recipe falls under the things we eat 20% of the time that are less than optimal. It’s high in calories, fat (albeit healthy fats) and carbohydrates, and certainly isn’t something we eat on a regular basis. But it’s also not nearly as bad as, say, a Big Mac or a bucket of chicken from the Colonel.
The less than optimal part of this dish is, of course, the corn tortillas. Which I happen to love, and am thrilled to have found a local source for some that are processed with just lime and salt. Corn, like white rice, is one of those grains that falls in the “greyish” part of the paleo spectrum, and as Mr. Sisson explains to us, when made into tortillas, isn’t necessarily all that bad:
Corn tortillas are probably the best way to consume corn. By their very definition, corn tortillas are subjected to nixtamalization, an ancient form of corn processing that reduces antinutrients like phytic acid, unlocks B-vitamins like niacin, and fights back against mycotoxins. It also increases the available protein content of the corn while increasing the bioavailability of the calcium. In other words, it makes a fairly nutritionally-poor food a bit more nutritious.
I can deal with that, so every so often we pick up a package and make something like, well, this.
Fish Tacos are one of Beloved’s favorite Mexican dishes, and I’m rather partial to them, too. They’re not hard; in this recipe I used perch filets, although any mild white fish would do, cut them into strips and dredged them in an egg wash then a seasoned blend of hazelnut and tapioca flours before frying them in lard. The lime-cilantro sauce turned out better than I could have hoped for – drizzled over the crispy fish it was just wonderful. And chances are you won’t use all of it, so the calories and fat content of the recipe are probably a bit overstated.
Of course, if you are avoiding all grains at all times or have a corn allergy, you can eat these in lettuce leaves and it will still be wonderful – it will also knock the carb count down to about 14 grams per serving, which constitutes “low carb” in my book. If you want to avoid frying it, use a firm fish that stands up well to grilling.
- 1 pound mild white fish, cut into strips
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup hazelnut flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
- 1 cup lard, or other fat suitable for frying
- 12 corn tortillas
- 2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
- the juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
- Heat the lard to 350 F in a large heavy skillet.
- Whisk the egg and water together in a bowl large enough to hold the fish; in a wide, shallow dish, stir together the hazelnut and tapioca flours, salt, pepper and cayenne.
- Dip the fish in the egg wash, then dredge it in the flour mixture until well-coated, shaking off any excess. Fry in the lard until the fish is cooked through and the outside is brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain briefly on paper towels.
- Wrap the tortillas in a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel and microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute, turning halfway through.
- Place two tortillas on each plate; top each with some shredded lettuce, diced tomato and fried fish. Drizzle with the lime cilantro mayonnaise and garnish with thinly sliced red onion and a slice of avocado, if desired.
- Serve immediately.
- Nutrition (per serving): 592 calories, 39.8g total fat, 111mg cholesterol, 582.8mg sodium, 523.5mg potassium, 39.1 grams carbohydrates, 4.8 grams fiber, 2.5 grams sugar, 19.4 grams protein