A hundred and fifty some-odd years ago, France tried to bully Mexico into paying up on an old debt. In a little town called Puebla, ragtag Mexican resistance force put up a good fight against robust French invasion forces and decisively if unexpectedly won the day-long Battle of Puebla on May 5. Though the Mexicans' problems with the French were far from over, this relatively minor scrimmage gave rise to a strangely significant celebration of Chicano culture in the United States.
Welcome to Cinco de Mayo.
^ As usual, my family honored the day by tucking in to a Mexican-inspired meal. By no means am I an authentic Mexican cook, though as my daughters well know, I'd love for one of them to bring into the family a lovely abuela who can teach me how to make authentic handmade tortillas. So if you know of any eligible and muy guapo bachelors from south of the border, by all means hit me up.
This year's menu featured fish tacos. As has been well documented in these pages, I'm obsessed with fish tacos and besides devouring them in mass quantities in Cabo, I have tried my hand at making them at home.
They're not difficult, though a well-prepared and completely homemade fish taco involves quite a few steps and fiddly processes. Which is fine sometimes, but other times, not so much. So I have also developed a high speed bullet train approach that serves me well when time is limited.
Fish, fresh or frozen. I like cod and salmon.
Chile lime seasoning
Kosher salt and pepper
Salsa. We are huge fans of Paul Newman's mango.
^ 1. Cook the fish.
I started with frozen cod. After defrosting it part way - hey, I ran out of time - I drizzled both sides of the fish with olive oil, then shook on the seasoning, salt and pepper. Popped the sheet pan into a 425 F degree oven and set a timer for ten minutes. When it's white all the way through and flakes under a fork, the fish is done.
^ 2. Mix the coleslaw.
This is pretty self-explanatory but I do have a few hot insider tips:
a. Spring for the ever so slightly more expensive Dole coleslaw rather than the store brand, which tends to be a bit bitter. My husband did the shopping today and ended up with the store brand but I suspect they must have been out of the Dole because he's the one who pointed out the difference to me. Covid strikes again.
b. It's super easy to whip up homemade dressing but if saving time is of the essence, go with Marie's. We've tried quite a few different brands of store-bought slaw dressing and this is our favorite.
^ 3. Chop up the freshies.
A splash of citrus is critical to the swoon-worthy spectacle that is a fish taco, and while many chefs go with lime, I am a fan of the orange. I highly recommend. I'm also a cilantro person - no, it does not taste like dish soap to me - and a sprinkle of green onion lends a lovely crunch. Sometimes, but not today, I go for some thinly sliced red onion as well. Definitely worth the effort of picking up a knife.
^ Now grab the tortillas, salsa, sour cream, and guac, and layer all this deliciousness onto the table with some tortilla chips, bowls of berries, and a cerveza fria.
^ Dig in! Relish every tangy morsel and think of those feisty Mexicans giving it to the colonial French forces. Huzzah, guerreros valientes!
^ Here is my plate. I went the deconstructed route, which just means I left out the tortilla and ate it with a fork. I won't be putting any fish taco gourmet chefs out of work any time soon, but this is a fast and delicious short cut version that I had on the table in just over fifteen minutes.
^ As usual, our Cinco de Mayo giraffe donned his mini sombrero and reigned supreme over our dinner table.
^ And then it was Gracie's turn. ¿Qué onda wey?
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Care to learn more about my obsession with fish tacos? Read this: