For this installment of the wild Alaska seafood blogger fish taco contest our challenge was to do a grilled taco. While I will admit that a fried fish taco in all its battered, crispy glory is more my style, I was curious to experiment with something a little lighter.
As with my last recipe I chose Wild Alaskan Black Cod as my seafood ingredient of choice. Before this contest I had virtually no knowledge of Black Cod, but now I’ve become very smitten. White fishes can sometimes taste a little too mild and light to me so they’re often a second choice to a rich salmon in my kitchen, but Black Cod is the opposite. Thanks to its higher fat content it has a richer mouth feel and carries flavors quite well. It’s velvety and really quite sumptuous.
I prepared it quite simply. I brushed it with a little good olive oil and seasoned with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper before placing it on a hot grill. In this case it was a grill pan because it’s gone back to being a bit nippy here in Chicago but I imagine a nice charcoal grill would be even better, as was what I used for the salmon I made two summers ago. In this case I defrosted it first, but believe it or not you can also cook it straight from frozen as well. Check out cookitfrozen.com for tips.
For an accompaniment I made a pineapple-bacon relish. Made by cooking down onions, banana peppers, jalapeno and pineapple with a bit of vinegar and of course, smokey bacon, it’s lip-smackingly tart and sweet. The richness of the bacon also really mirrors the full-bodied flavor of the fish. It’s very addictive. I found myself continually dipping my spoon into the saucepan while assembling my tacos.
To offset the texture of the fish and the relish I went with a crispy taco shell. Since I made the relish myself I gave myself a pass to go store-bought à la the boxed variety, the kind that takes me back to childhood taco nights. Accordingly there was also some shredded lettuce and a generous dollop of sour cream. All combined it makes for a taco that is light and yet layered with flavor all at the same time.
Once the relish is done these tacos come together quickly. Thankfully, it refrigerates beautifully so you can feel free to prepare it the night or even two days before.
-2 slices of bacon
-1/2 cup chopped red onion, about ½ an small red onion
-1/4 cup chopped banana peppers
-1/2 jalapeno, seeded, ribs removed and minced
-1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
-1/4 cup cider vinegar
-1 pound Black Cod fillets
-1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus additional for greasing grill grates
-Salt and pepper to taste
-8 crispy taco shells, warmed according to package directions
-2 cups shredded lettuce
-1/2 cup sour cream
Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray over medium low heat. (You’re looking for just enough oil to prevent the bacon from initially sticking.) Add the bacon and cook until crisp on both sides, flipping half way through the cooking. Place the bacon on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Crumble or coarsely chop bacon and set aside.
Pour off excess grease till just a thin film of oil remains. Add the onion, banana peppers and jalapeno and sauté until the onion becomes translucent, scraping up any brown bits left on the pan from the bacon.
Add the cider pineapple, cider vinegar and the crumbled bacon and increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat back to low and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes. You’ll want to stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You’ll want to wait and do it at the end like this to account for the fact that it’s going to cook down.
While pineapple relish is cooking prepare your grill or grill pan to medium heat. Once the grill is hot brush the first side of each fish with the vegetable oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Place fish on the grill oiled side down and cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. You’re looking for distinct char marks, but be careful to move the fish as little as possible so they develop. Lightly brush the other side of the fish with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Flip and cook the fish for about 3 minutes longer (depending on thickness). The fish will be done when it flakes lightly with a fork, but remains moist and tender. Remove fish from heat and gently break into chunks with a fork.
To assemble your tacos, take warmed shells and fill first with shredded lettuce. Top with fish, pineapple-bacon relish, and finally a dollop of sour cream.
Please note that I did receive two $25 gift cards to help me cover the cost of ingredients in exchange for my participation. The recipes and opinions, however, are all my own.