Let's make it a fiesta, baby
Recipes may come and go, but this one, oh boy, this one is here to stay.
This was one of my first recipes on the blog and has been in repeat mode in my kitchen since then. Event though we enjoy very much the typical fresh and raw taco fixings, one day I was craving for something more earthy and creative. Something saucier. I thought of a fish stew infused with lots of Spanish flair. The sauce has chickpeas, capers and sweet piquillo peppers and is seasoned with garlic, saffron and a lot of paprika. Because if there’s a spice that screams Spanish cuisine very loudly it’s paprika, so I wasn’t going to be shy with it. Also, queso Manchego sprinkled on top.
For this Cinco de Mayo, which is a Friday so there’s no excuse not to make a fiesta out of it, try something different for your tacos and make this deliciousness instead. I left out a few ingredients from the original recipe and simplified the process a bit. You could have this taco tray in 30 minutes. Promise! All with clean and honest ingredients as always.
I used soft corn tortillas but brushed them with a bit of olive oil and toasted them in a non-stick medium skillet. This way they were still soft but with a nice bite and also they didn’t get soggy quickly with the sauce. I served ours with fresh tomato pieces, a dollop of guacamole and sprinkled with queso Manchego.
Now all that’s left is mixing an Albariño with some tequila and, believe me, we are going to be all set! Are you ready for the fiesta?!
1. If using frozen fish meat, submerge the pouches in a medium bowl filled with hot tap water and it will only take minutes to defrost.
2. Depending on the size of the non-stick pan, you can toast a couple of tortillas at a time. Just let them rest on a paper towel while the fish is cooking.
3. Even though I suggested a cooking time for the sauce, you should add the fish at the very last 5 minutes, when you see the sauce is just shy of being very thick. Remember that it will continue thickening while the fish is cooking and it is going to thicken more when it starts to cool down.
Spanish fish stew tacos
4 to 6 persons, 12 to 16 stuffed tacos
Total time – 30 minutes
Cod fillets or other firm white fish - 12 to 16 oz, around 3 to 4 fillets
Fine sea salt - 1 Tsp+, divided
Fresh ground black pepper – about ½ Tsp, divided
Ground or minced garlic – ½ Tsp
Extra virgin olive oil - 3 TBS + additional to toast the tortillas
Chickpeas – ½ cup
Piquillo peppers, chopped in medium pieces - ½ cup
Capers - 2 TBSP
Fresh chopped Roma or Campari tomatoes – 1 cup
Tomato sauce Spanish style or pureed tomatoes (not Italian tomato sauce) - 1 cup
Chicken stock (preferably) or water – ½ to 1 cup
Saffron threads – ½ Tsp
Paprika – 2 TBSP
Micro cilantro, chopped mini tomatoes, guacamole and queso Manchego to serve
Season the fish with half of the salt, a pinch of fresh ground pepper and the ground garlic (see notes).
In a large skillet heat the olive oil in medium high heat and sauté the chickpeas with ¼ of the salt and a sprinkle of pepper for three minutes approximately, until the chickpeas look caramelized and golden brown on the crust. Add the piquillo peppers and cook two minutes more, until the peppers cook down a bit. Add the capers and tomatoes and sprinkle an extra pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, moving everything frequently, until everything is soft and well integrated. Add the tomato sauce, the chicken stock (or water), the saffron threads, paprika, the rest ¼ of salt and an extra sprinkle of fresh ground pepper. Mix everything well and turn down the heat to medium low. Cook for 15 minutes.
In the meantime prepare the tortillas. Heat a non-stick pan in medium high heat. Using a pastry brush cover each tortilla with a bit of olive oil on each side. Place them in the skillet (place as many as you can fit without overlapping them) and cook them for 1 or 2 minutes each side, depending on how quick they are browning. Place them on a paper towel to prevent from becoming soggy with their own steam.
When the sauce time's up (see notes), increase the heat again to medium and put the whole fish fillets in the skillet and cook them for about 1 or 2 minutes, then turn them over and cook for a minute or two more. Using a spatula begin to break the fish until lightly shredded, it will continue to break down on its own with the extra heat and extra tossing. Turn down the heat to low and cook until the sauce is thick and the fish is covered by it.
Take the fish off the heat and let it rest for a couple of minutes so it absorbs the sauce and cools down a little bit. Serve with the corn tortillas and top with queso Manchego, cilantro leaves or any of your favorite taco fixings.