Tuesday, February 10, 2015

beer-battered catfish tacos.

One of the perks of marriage is having someone to take care of you.  

This past weekend I managed to splice off the top of my finger and come down with the flu and having Tyler bandage me up and make me tea reminded me that marriage and relationships are about taking care of one another.  I like to pretend I am superwoman - that if I am sick with the flu that I can still go to work, and go to the gym, and make dinner, and be everything for everyone.  Sometimes you have to let that all go and wear sweatpants all day and watch a lot of really bad Bravo TV and be taken care of.  

It's nice being taken care of.  

But as much as I like being taken care of, I much prefer taking care of others - usually by cooking. While tacos aren't the most romantic of foods it's up there with pizza and cheese as my Valentine's Day meal of choice.  These fish tacos are the kind of perfect food because the two of you can make them together - one can assemble the slaw, the other the beer batter, and together you can fry the fish up.  Wash the tacos down with a couple of beers and a box of chocolates.  Sometimes romance is being taken care of and other times its doing something together.   

Beer-Battered Catfish Tacos
From The Homesick Texan’s Family Table, by Lisa Fain

Serves 4

For the Cabbage Topping

2 cups shredded cabbage
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
2 tablespoons white vinegar

For the Beer Batter

¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
1 egg
1 cup dark (preferably Mexican but anything works) beer

For the Catfish

Oil, for frying
1 pound catfish fillets, cut into thin sticks or bite-sized nuggets
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ cup all-purpose flour
Corn or flour tortillas, warmed, for serving
Optional Additions - Lime wedges, sliced avocado, crema or sour cream 
Hot sauce or store-bought salsa, for serving

To make the cabbage topping, toss the cabbage with the salt and allow to sit for 1 hour, refrigerated.
Rinse and drain the cabbage. Stir in the garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, cumin seeds, and vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasonings, and then keep refrigerated until you are serving.

To make the beer batter, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne until well combined. Beat the egg with the beer and then pour into the flour mixture and stir until a smooth batter forms. Allow the batter to rest at room temperature for 1 hour. If it separates a bit during this time, simply whisk it again before using.

After the batter has rested, in a large, heavy skillet, heat 2 inches of oil over medium heat until it reaches 350°F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, after 5 minutes of heating, you can stick a wooden spoon into the oil to see if it’s ready. If the oil bubbles around the spoon, it should be hot enough. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

To fry the catfish, first season it evenly with the salt, pepper, and lime juice. Place the ¼ cup of flour on a plate, then, working in batches, lightly dredge the catfish in the flour. Holding it by one end, dip the catfish in the beer batter until well coated, and then gently lower into the oil. Fry for 2½ to 3 minutes, or until golden, turning once. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain the catfish on the paper towels. Repeat for the remaining fish.

Serve the fried fish with the warm tortillas, lime wedges, cabbage topping, sliced avocado, sour cream or crema, and salsa and let diners assemble their own tacos.

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