a dinner worth (saliva)ting over + a new look (for the blog)

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Cover shoot … Saliva’s couch! Photo by Allen Clark Photography

Well … there have been a host of things going on around here, a few of which I can’t wait to share with you! It’s interesting the way life works out. It seems to be a constant revolving door of the people you meet, the people they know and the stories you live to tell about after the dust settles.

So fast forward to my thirties … I had the pleasure to collide with Saliva. They’ve played in front of the masses and their “Click, Click, Boom” is played at just about every sports venue throughout the year. Shockingly enough, the band is comprised of some of the most down-to-earth, gentle spirits you will ever have the pleasure of encountering. And, this gal was tasked with creating an enchanting evening of Southern-inspired fare for their last evening at EastSide Manor Studios (they’re recording their long awaited followup album).

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Saliva on break and waiting to eat …

First and foremost, yes … you should go buy the album as soon as it drops! Secondly, and I’ve said this before … BUT, you know you’ve completely NAILED a meal when everyone goes completely silent and all you can hear is the symphony of chewing, knives scrapping plates and “mmmms”. If you’ve not had the pleasure of such an experience, just keep at it! You’ll never feel better than in that moment, make it your milestone and keep cooking!

So, what does one make for a group of Southern-bred men who happen to be rock stars? I went with some tried & true favorites elevated just a pinch. Here’s the menu:

fish tacos, red cabbage slaw + spicy crema

Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw & Spicy Crema

Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw & Spicy Crema

It’s beautiful outside! I mean the type of breathtaking beautiful that makes you want to sing out loud, dance without music and laugh at seemingly nothing at all. I don’t know about you, but on days like this I get a craving for tacos like none other. Oh, and a margarita (on the rocks, extra salt please)!

My first encounter with fish tacos was in Knoxville, TN (what are the odds) at La Costa (a restaurant that has long since closed). The owner graciously shared his laborious recipe with me ages ago and I’ve finally carved out a week night solution that is palette pleasing and super easy!

What you’ll need:

  • 4 tilapia (or other mild-white fish) filets, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 small red cabbage shredded
  • 1 serrano pepper finely minced
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 cup natural sour cream
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 large heirloom tomato diced
  • 1/2 large onion diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 chopped handful of cilantro
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • canola oil for frying

What you’ll do:

  1. Combine sugar, vinegar, coriander and a bit of salt. Add cabbage and serrano pepper. Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours. (Hello, red-cabbage slaw)!
  2. Combine onion, tomato, lime juice, cilantro and a bit of salt. Then set aside (Pico de Gallo, done)!
  3. Combine sour cream and sriracha, then set aside (spicy crema, Boom)!
  4. Salt and pepper the fish filets generously on all sides.
  5. Mix flour, cornmeal, and panko with cajun seasoning in a plastic bag (easy cleanup). Add the fish and shake well to coat with the breading.
  6. Heat canola oil in frying pan to medium heat. Add fish filets (careful not to crowd the pan). And increase heat to medium-high.
  7. Fry fish for about 3 minutes on each side or until the breading is a beautiful, golden brown.
  8. While fish is frying rejuvenate those tortillas! You can either wrap in foil in a  warm (300 degree) oven for about 7 minutes or place on the stovetop one at a time in a dry, high heat skillet for about 10 seconds on each side.
  9. Layer it in … Tortilla, fish, cabbage slaw, pico and spicy crema.
  10. Repeat #9 … 7 more times

Enjoy!