I recently saw a recipe in The New York Times for Chicken Liver Tacos with Rhubarb Salsa. The chicken liver component made me cringe a bit, but my interest was certainly piqued by the rhubarb salsa! Tart, fresh rhubarb is mixed with spring onion, spicy jalapeño, cider vinegar and smoky chipotle powder. I paired this adventurous salsa with strips of cornmeal crusted white fish and creamy, caramelized onions. The finished taco was definitely like nothing I have ever tasted before. An enjoyable array of bold, bright flavors and varying textures that is sure to arouse your taste buds. Continue reading for the recipe.
Cornmeal Crusted Fish Tacos with Rhubarb Salsa
Adapted from The New York Times.
For the salsa:
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut in a 1/4-inch dice (about 2 medium stalks)
1/3 cup finely minced spring onion (or scallions)
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1/2 cup pickled cocktail onions, halved
2 teaspoons honey, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons cider vinegar, divided (1 tablespoon for the salsa, 2 tablespoons for the onions below)
Chipotle powder (or cayenne)
For the fish tacos:
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided (4 tablespoons for the fish, 1 tablespoon for the onions)
1 pound white fish (cod, tilapia, halibut), cut in 2-inch to 3-inch strips (no need to be precise here)
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
8 soft corn tortillas
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for sprinkling
Fill 2/3 of a large bowl with cold water and add a couple handfuls of ice (this is an ice bath). Set aside.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add rhubarb and cook for 20 seconds. Scoop the rhubarb out of the water with a slotted spoon directly into the ice bath. Chill for a minute, then drain and transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet. Dry by blotting with additional paper towels (the rhubarb doesn’t need to be completely dry, just not dripping wet). Once dry, transfer rhubarb to a medium bowl and fold in spring onion, jalapeño and cocktail onions. In a small bowl, mix honey into 1 tablespoon of vinegar then stir into salsa. Season with kosher salt and chipotle powder to taste. If you find your salsa is a bit too tart, you can add more honey.
Preheat oven to 200°F.
Place cornmeal in a shallow bowl and season with a healthy amount of kosher salt and a sprinkling of chipotle powder, stirring to combine. Roll strips of fish in the seasoned cornmeal. Coat the entire surface of the fish with cornmeal, shake off the excess, then transfer to a plate (I used a baking sheet).
Warm 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté fish until lightly browned and cooked through (about 1 to 2 minutes each side). Do this in several batches to avoid crowding the pan. Once you complete a batch, transfer for a heatproof dish, cover and keep warm in the oven while the other batches are cooking.
Once you have cooked all of the fish, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same skillet and warm over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of vinegar, stir to deglaze the pan and remove from heat.
Wrap the tortillas in a lightly dampened paper towel and warm in the microwave for 20 – 30 seconds. Stir 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro into the rhubarb salsa.
To assemble, lay 1 to 2 strips of fish across the center of the tortilla. Top with caramelized onions and a spoonful of rhubarb salsa. Finish with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.
Makes 4 servings.