Healthy Halibut Tacos

by Susan Russo
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halibuttacos.jpgBuying fish used to be easy. You'd go to the seafood store, look in the case, select your fish, and go home to cook.

Nowadays, it's a lot more complicated. If you're pregnant, you need to avoid mercury-rich fish; farm-raised fish are good, except for when they're bad; some species which are endangered still show up on the menus of restaurants. All of this leads to confusion and often frustration on the part of many consumers.

What should you do? Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website. The Seafood Watch program "helps consumers and businesses make healthy choices for healthy oceans" by guiding you through these murky waters.

The folks at Seafood Watch share their "seafood recommendations" which are organized by geographic region, teach you about pressing ocean issues, provide sustainable seafood recipes, and even show you how to get involved in the cause. Best of all, you can acquire an app that will help you when you're in the market shopping for fish.

tomatillos7.jpgAnother way to make sure you're buying sustainable fish is to know your fishmonger. Mine is Tommy Gomes of Catalina Offshore Products in San Diego, a friendly, funny idiot savant of fish. Not only does Catalina offer the freshest of local fish, but they also run Collaboration Kitchen, a program in conjunction with Specialty Produce, that offers once-a-month demos and a 5- to 7-course tasting meal led by local chefs. Proceeds go to support the Monarch School for homeless and at-risk youth.

Last week when Tommy announced on Facebook that fresh halibut fillets were on sale for $9.85 a pound, I practically tripped over myself to order 2 pounds worth. Halibut is a firm, mild-tasting, white fish that pairs deliciously when a wide variety of salsas and chutneys. I made baked halibut with a zesty mango, corn, and cucumber salsa for the first pound. The second pound was transformed into these healthy baked tacos with a sweet-and-spicy pineapple-tomatillo salsa. Because fish tacos just make life better.

 

Healthy Baked Halibut Tacos with Pineapple-Tomatillo Salsa
Makes 8 tacos

This healthier version of fish tacos is low in fat, cholesterol, and calories but not on flavor. Tomatillos, sometimes called Mexican green tomatoes, look like small green tomatos wrapped in a papery husk. They have a distinctive tart, citrusy flavor that balances the sweetness of pineapple in this salsa. They're available at Mexican specialty markets as well as most major supermarkets.

Fish:
1 pound halibut, sliced into 8 equal pieces
2 egg whites
1/2 cup coarse corn meal or grits
A generous sprinkling of salt and pepper

Salsa:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 tomatillos, diced (about 2 cups) - Remove the papery husk and wash before using.

1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1 small jalapeno, finely chopped
The zest and juice of 1 lime
A generous sprinkling of salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish

8 (6-inch) corn blue or yellow corn tortillas
Serve with lime wedges

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place egg whites in a shallow bowl and lightly beat with a fork. In another shallow bowl, place cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper.

2. Pat fish dry with paper towel. Dip each piece of fish in the egg whites then dredge in the cornmeal. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for about 20 minutes, turning once mid-way through. The fish will be cooked when the cornmeal becomes golden and crunchy and the fish is opaque when pierced with a fork.

3. For the salsa, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until browned and translucent. Add tomatillos and cook 5 minutes, until tender and few brown spots appear. Add pineapple and jalapeno and cook for 2 minutes. Add lemon zest and juice, salt, and cilantro, and stir well. Remove from heat.

4. To assemble tacos, heat tortillas on a dry griddle over medium heat for 1 minute per side or, using metal tongs, simply hold over an open flame until warmed and slightly charred. Place a layer of salsa on each tortilla, then a fish fillet, then another dollop of  salsa and fresh chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

 

Susan Russo is a free lance food writer in San Diego, California. She publishes stories, recipes, and photos on her cooking blog, <Food Blogga and is a regular contributor to NPR’s <Kitchen Window. She is also the author of  Recipes Every Man Should Know and The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches.

 

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