Saturday, May 9, 2020

Fish Tacos in Quarentis

No fists, but two women got in a fight this morning in line at the garden center. It escalated quickly, as Ron Burgundy would say, after one super annoying lady ("the Enforcer") yelled at the lady ("the Beleaguered") ahead of me to move up and stand on her assigned square. Seems the Beleaguered had more social distance than the Enforcer thought she should have. There were, like, ten people in line but no matter what, the line wasn't moving until people left the garden center, so it didn't really matter how spread out we were, as long as we complied with the distancing thing.

There was nothing enjoyable about witnessing the obscenity-laced fracas (which eventually petered out with the Beleaguered apologizing to everyone in line for completely losing it on the Enforcer, whilst the Enforcer continued to try to bait the Beleaguered) but it was notable to see people behaving badly after so much tip toeing, niceties and polite deference. Maybe it's that I work for a company headquartered in Minnesota but lately even drivers in Chicago seem friendlier to each other, people everywhere seem to be cutting each other slack, and we've all been forced to surrender some individual freedoms for what our local elected officials have determined to be the good of the group. Do I sound conflicted about the present arrangement? To quote the Vampire Weekend's Harmony Hall song I like so much, "I don't wanna live like this. But I don't wanna die."

Anyhoo, my news feed informed me that people are cooking more seafood with a bravery I usually only summon for parties where I have friends to cook with. Feeling some shame for the pedestrian nightly meals I've been turning out, last night I picked up (and put down, and picked up again, much like when contemplating use of my hair straightener: "Should I? Do I have time? Will it come out well?) a WHOLE snapper. In a miracle of availability and perfect ripeness of supporting ingredients (butter lettuce, mangoes, avocados, corn on the cob, fresno chilis and cotija), and the last of our stash of El Milagro corn tortillas remaining unspoiled, fish tacos were a go. And while no one else wanted to touch the fish, advice was proffered, the grill was lit, and and my first born and I assembled an array of sides for an incredibly colorful and delicious dinner.

I was nervous about cooking the whole fish but there's really nothing to it but fresh lime, a splash of neutral oil, salt and pepper, and then a hearty redux of same on the platter once you pull the fish off the barbie. Want to give it a go? This amount served three (but would serve two more generously):

  • 1.75 pound whole snapper - rub in and out with a bit of oil, salt, pepper and fresh lime and grill about 5-6 minutes each side (I used my stainless steel grill basket thing). When done, place on a platter with more oil, salt, pepper and fresh lime juice
  • Guacamole: 2 ripe avocados, some finely chopped yellow onion, jalapeno, cilantro, salt, and lime
  • Spicy Mango Salsa: 2 small yellow mangoes, finely chopped red onion, red bell pepper, jalapeno, green onion, fresh lime juice
  • One head living lettuce - optional, if you like the lettuce-wrapped thing
  • Freshly charred corn tortillas - I just zap them on the open flame of my range
  • Shredded cabbage - tossed with fresh lime juice, salt and pepper

Serve with this, my favorite summer salad.

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