Last weekend was what might called a very Shannon weekend. Her birthday is April 22—Earth Day—and as is the tradition in our family, we had a little party where we cooked what the birthday girl wanted. In this case, fish tacos, which Clif and I had never made.
Awhile back, I went to Mary Jane’s house for lunch, and she served fish tacos that were utterly delectable. I wrote about it for this blog, and Shannon read the post.
“Fish tacos!” she told me. “I love fish tacos.”
“Would you like them for your birthday?” I asked. “I bet Mary Jane would give me the recipe.”
Shannon said yes to the tacos, and Mary Jane did indeed agree to give me the recipe. Or rather talk me through it.
“I used tilapia,” she said. “But catfish would be fine, too.” Good. Unlike most fish, both tilapia and catfish are sustainable fish that we don’t have to feel guilty about eating. “All you do is cut the fish in strips, dip the strips in beaten eggs, roll them in crushed cornflakes, and pan fry them. You’ll have to do it in batches and keep the fish warm in the oven on a low heat.”
Not too hard. But what about the delicious chipotle mayonnaise Mary Jane served with the tacos? “Buy a can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce. Cut up a few of the chilis, removing most of the seeds. Add them to some mayonnaise along with a little of the adobo sauce.”
“Cole slaw is also good with the tacos,” Mary Jane added. “And so is salsa verde. And sliced limes.”
With these directions I felt more than confidant that Clif and I could make good fish tacos for Shannon’s birthday. As Mike doesn’t care for fish, we would make chicken strips as well, using egg and cornflakes and pan frying them the same way we would for the fish.
I am someone who likes to plan and have things ready ahead of time—last minute rushing leaves me flustered and prone to making mistakes. The fish tacos were not difficult to make, but there was a certain amount of prep work that needed to be done: cutting the fish and chicken, crushing the corn flakes, slicing the limes, and and making the chipotle mayonnaise.
Fortunately, Clif and I work well together in the kitchen, and we had everything ready before Shannon, Mike, and the dogs—Holly and Samara—arrived for the afternoon. The day was nice enough so that we could have appetizers on the patio. It was so fine that we could have the first grilled bread of the season, and Clif grilled the dough to perfection. (As I’ve written many times, Clif’s grilled bread is legendary among family and friends.)
After appetizers, it was time for fish tacos. Mike and Shannon sat in the dining room where they could still talk to us. Clif used the big electric frying pan for the chicken, and I used the cast iron for the fish. Everything went just the way it should, and how gratifying it is when that happens. I also cooked some rice to go with the tacos.
Both the fish and the chicken were pretty darned good, as Clif put it, and we all agreed that this was a make-again meal. In fact, you might even say that Mary Jane started a tradition for us.
Thank you Mary Jane, and happy birthday Shannon!