Blackened Fish Tacos with Charred Corn Salsa and Cilantro Aioli
One of my favorite Vancouver outings is a late weekend lunch in an adorable little restaurant aptly named Fish. It is a small place so close to the ocean that you can smell the salinity when you dine on their quaint, cramped patio, and the fish is cooked to such perfection that it melts on your tongue like butter. Adarsh and I have become predictable to the staff there – they don’t have to ask before lavishing us with our favorites – cajun-spiced blackened salmon burgers, baby green salad with corn and red onions, and a couple of Coronas.
It’s nice to be predictable sometimes. I find comfort in repetition. I like to read my favorite books over and over again, watch my most-loved movies till I have the lines memorized, visit the same ice cream shop with my sister every time I go home in the summer, etc. And I really love to order blackened salmon when I go for lunch with my sweetheart on an breezy Saturday afternoon.
Tonight I was really looking for that weekend-by-the-beach feeling, and decided to bring it to my own kitchen. That, plus Adarsh’s solicitation for Mexican, and blackened salmon tacos were born. The smoky salsa is simply diced tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, and corn tossed in olive oil and charred under the broiler. Brought together with a cool cilantro aioli and creamy avocado, a squeeze of bright citrus and a crunchy radish salad, this meal was a perfect complement of spicy and fresh.
Spicy Blackened Salmon Tacos
2 portions of salmon, or other firm-fleshed fish (I used salmon steaks)
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large flour tortillas
avocado, cilantro, green onions, and radishes for topping
lemon or lime wedges, optional
Charred Corn Salsa
1. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat until smoking.
2. Meanwhile, mix chili powder, cayenne, sugar and salt with the flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge salmon in flour mixture and transfer to hot skillet. Cook until very brown, then flip. Continue cooking till flesh is just opaque. Set aside.
3. Wipe oil from skillet, and throw in tortillas to warm. Arrange the fish, flaked into chunks, Charred Corn Salsa, and desired toppings on one half of a warmed tortilla and drizzle with aioli. Fold in half to serve.
Charred Corn Salsa
1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen)
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
salt, to taste
1. Preheat broiler and put oven rack in highest position. Toss corn, tomatoes, onion and jalapeno with olive oil. Salt to taste.
2. Transfer corn mixture to a shallow baking pan. Broil until tomatoes are soft and corn is charred, 5-8 minutes.
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice (lime or orange juice would be equally tasty)
1 tbsp cilantro, minced
1. Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust lemon juice and add salt to taste.