So the thing is this: When you eat out as much as I do, you have to cook low cal dinners for yourself at home. That’s my theory and what I go by, anyway. There’s no doubt that the restaurant world is not concerned with our caloric intake. In fact, sometimes it seems that they’re trying to squeeze in as many as humanly possible in the form of butter, cheese and pork fat. And, hey, those things make food delicious. But that’s also why, when I cook at home, it’s generally a very calorie conscious meal. That’s my balance. Now, I don’t measure every ingredient or count every calorie (anymore) but that’s because I have a general knowledge of the caloric value of most ingredients. I know what to use a lot of, what to use sparingly, and what to avoid altogether.
I also don’t usually do anything too intricate. I mostly keep it pretty simple. Often times, I don’t even have to go to the store to buy specific ingredients. Instead, I utilize ingredients that I already have in the freezer, fridge and pantry (although, I have to admit that they’re usually pretty well stocked).
And, I must also say that every dish doesn’t always come out as perfectly as I’ve composed it in my head, for one reason or another. But I always learn something from it and would make adjustments if there ever another time that I was going to make the same thing over again, which is pretty infrequently.
So here’s what was for dinner the other night: fish tacos with a citrus-y slaw and avocado with seared, minted zucchini.
Here’s the list of ingredients:
(Clearly I am not good at measuring/using specific quantities. That’s just not how I learned and have never really had need for it.):
Pre-shredded cabbage slaw
Red bell pepper
Fresh fish- I used cod
Little whole wheat (and low cal) tortillas
|Pretty, fresh ingredients
|Not the prettiest lookin’ thing ever
First, put the slaw together by mixing the cabbage with the lime juice, some thinly sliced red bell peppers, sliced scallions and a little yogurt. I did this in the afternoon when I decided I was going to make the tacos for dinner. That way, the cabbage had a some time to absorb the acid. I’m sure it’d be fine if you did it at the beginning of your prep. Put it back in the fridge until you’re putting the tacos together but be sure to stir it a couple of times in between. I simply combined everything in a container with a lid and just shook it every once in a while.
This recipe comes together really quickly so you’ll want all of your prep done before you start cooking anything. There are really only 2 other things to get ready: the fish and the zucchini. Simply sprinkle the fish with the cumin, cayenne, oregano and S/P (that’s salt and pepper). Be careful how much you’re using because cumin is really strong and can be overpowering and the cayenne can get too spicy (but don’t be a sally about it either).
Then, slice the zucchini pretty fat and on a bias. I’d say about an inch and a half thick. Toss them with some chopped garlic, chopped, fresh mint and S/P. That’s it. Set them aside.
Heat a non-stick pan to medium-high heat with a tiny bit of E(xtra) V(irgin) O(live) O(il). By using a non-stick pan, you eliminate the need for a lot of oil, which, in turn, eliminates A LOT of calories. Place the fish in the pan, presentation side down. You’ll be able to control the sear so it comes out nice and browned (although, it’s less important in this case because most of the fish will be covered by the slaw). Flip it when it has the color you want, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover the pan. The cooking time depends on the type of fish you use and how thick it’s cut. Test for doneness by touch. (This just takes practice. It should, obviously, be much firmer than when it was raw. Try it and then cut it open when you think it’s done to see if you were right. It’s the only way to learn.)
A few minutes after you’ve started the fish, put the zucchini on. They’ll go in another pan (not non-stick) that’s been heated on med-high heat with a little EVOO. The plan is to get a good sear on both sides while the inside is soft and juicy and the garlic is only a little toasty (not burnt). This only takes a few minutes on each side. You can turn them a couple of times to even out the color, but don’t touch them too much or they’ll never brown. They have to sit undisturbed in order to sear properly.
|After the first turn. They get another flip for darker color.
When it’s done, pull the fish out of the pan but leave the pan on the heat. Add a layer of tortillas to the pan, flipping them after about 20 seconds or so, so that they’re warm but not toasted. And that’s it! Now you’re ready to compose.
Put the fish on the tortilla with a bit of the slaw, a couple of slices of avocado (which I like to sprinkle a little course sea salt directly on) and some fresh cilantro. Serve a slice of lime with it, just in case, and the zuccs along side. Light, fresh, healthy, tasty!
What would I do differently next time?
I would use a denser fish, such as mahi mahi, corvina or even swordfish as the cod flaked too easily and didn’t have the meatiness I wish it had. I would also go heavier on the spice mix I put on the fish. My citrus-y slaw definitely could have handled it.
Variations to try?
Maybe I’d do it with shrimp (which I always have in the freezer as a go-to protein) with a black bean/corn/red pepper salsa. Yeah, that sounds tasty too.