And when I say we packed up a few things, I'm mostly saying that there may or may not have been a zucchini, a tomato, 2 avocados and a couple of pears stashed in my suitcase among the jeans and sweaters. I like to imagine how the TSA peeps react to finding produce in one's luggage. But all arrived safely and no one was harmed in transit.
So we've settled in to our little place on the Central California Coast, and with some of the finest restaurants a stone's throw from our front door, I've been steadfastly and happily cooking up a storm in our little kitchen here.
One of the first things that must happen when we arrive at our Western Headquarters is my long-awaited and highly anticipated reunion with Cousin Katie and our traditional lunch at our favorite taqueria. The last few times we've been there, Katie has introduced me to their carne asada salad which we order just for the basil dressing. We've both been dying to replicate this dressing at home because it's just so dang good, and neither of us can imagine living without it. So I finally got down to it today. The folks in the restaurant kitchen had been ever so kind to give us a few hints as to the ingredients but for the most part, I was going to have to wing it.
So, as any great scientist might do, I ordered an extra large container of the stuff to go, and today I pulled it out of the fridge along with about 75 possible other ingredients and started mixing. I knew I wanted this primarily for my fish taco bowls, so decided on a cilantro swap for the basil.
For over an hour I blended and tasted and mixed and stirred and finally enlisted the highly sensitive taster attached to The Husband, and in the end I think we created something that might not be an exact replica, but just might stand on its own as a mighty delicious dressing for salads tacos, fish, and for this here fish taco bowl.
And speaking of fish, there really is nothing like traveling from the Midwest to the California Coast and then finding yourself standing in front of the seafood truck at the farmer's market and having to make a decision between fresh caught (only hours previously) swordfish, halibut, rock cod, lingcod, and salmon. After some serious agonizing and soul searching, I chose the lingcod (which happens to be a personal all-time favorite), and boy howdy, did we ever score big on that one. If you've ever grilled fresh lingcod, then you know what I'm talking about. If not, any one of those other fish will do perfectly splendid in a fish taco bowl.
And Yes, we've now finally arrived at the part of the post where I actually talk about these amazingly scrumptious fish taco bowls, in which we place a good amount of Mexican rice in the bottom of your bowl and then top that with some grilled shrimp and fish. Then we place a bit of shredded cabbage on the fish and then a good drizzle of the dressing, followed by some grated cheese which is then topped with slices of avocado and maybe a final drizzle of the avocado citrus dressing and perhaps a final sprinkling of cilantro (which didn't make it into that photo up there) and what you have, people, is one heckuva fine taco bowl. A bit of an understatement right there.
But enough talking here. Let's wrap this up and get you into the kitchen. Might I suggest that you make yourself a double batch of this dressing? After you make these taco bowls, you're going to want to drizzle that stuff on everything... salads, chicken, fish, steaks, scallops, potatoes, veggies, eggs, tacos, and just about anything that will fit on your plate. Here's the recipe...
Fish Taco Bowls
Although I swapped out the basil in the original restaurant version of the dressing for cilantro, you could very easily use basil in this and it would be ever so delicious on chicken, fish, veggies, or whatever.
2 cups shredded cabbage
Mexican Rice (here's my recipe)
1 1/2 lbs grilled fish (halibut, cod, lingcod, swordfish or your favorite whitefish)
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups shredded cheese (1 cup jack cheese and 1 cup cheddar cheese)
1 avocado, sliced
Citrus Avocado Dressing (see recipe below)
chopped fresh cilantro
1. Make the Citrus Avocado Dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup tomatillo salsa (like Herdez brand)
1/3 cup cilantro (leaves and some stem ends OK)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper (optional)
Place all of the ingredients in a blender or the mixing bowl of an immersion blender. Blend until the dressing is very smooth and creamy. Taste for salt and pepper.
2. Mix the shrimp (thawed, if frozen) with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for about 5-6 minutes, depending on how large they are. Remove from the oven and set aside.
3. Baste the fish fillets with a mixture of olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper and grill for about 4 minutes per side, depending on how thick the fillets are. Let sit for a couple of minutes and then cut into large-ish chunks.
4. When ready to serve, place some of the Mexican rice in the bottom of each bowl. Top the rice with some of the fish and shrimp and drizzle with a little of the dressing. Place some of the shredded cabbage on top of the fish and then sprinkle that with some grated cheese. Top the cheese with a couple slices of the avocado and then drizzle all with a little more of the dressing. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve immediately.