Black Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos

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I’ve been craving Fish Tacos. But not any kind of Fish Taco, I mean Ensenada, Baja California Mexico Fish Tacos. The real deal. These “the” original fish tacos are often imitated, and sad to say but rarely duplicated. How can something so simple in principle, can be so hard to replicate? I really believe its all in the ingredients, and the particular sazon of the cook. Have you ever tried the authentic Baja tacos?… If not, please do. Tale says that the Baja tacos where created by the street stand “Tacos El Fenix” in Ensenada Baja California, Mexico. What is so special about a Baja taco? Well let me describe it. Imagine a tempura like battered piece of the freshest morning pacific caught white flesh flaky fish, on a Mexican corn tortilla, light mayo-crema, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and a spoonful of spicy green or red spicy salsa and a squeeze of lime. The bite is ethereal, crunchy, tender, fresh, savory, acid, spicy your tastebuds go on ecstasy.
I have not eaten Baja Fish Tacos in almost 10 years!, would you believe that?…No?, me neither.

Recreating a craving from a memory of flavor could be a little daunting. I did not wanted to even attempt to relay into my 10 year taste buds memories to try to replicate these unique Baja tacos.

So I opted for a 360 degree of separation alternative recipe to tease and ease up my Fish Taco craving. I made these Black Sesame Seared Tuna Tacos. Sometimes my tastebuds act in a mischievous ways. On these tacos I opted to seared Ahi Tuna steaks covered in Black sesame seeds instead of the deep frying battered fish.

If you never seared tuna before, it is really easy, hot sautee pan, rippling oil and counting 20 seconds per side, just follow step number 4 on the recipe. You will have the best succulent seared Ahi Tuna steaks. The black sesame seed crust its what makes the whole different story on this taco. Black sesame seeds add flavor and texture to this lean flavorful meaty fish. When the tuna steak hits the hot pan, the sesame oil creates a nutty and unctuous exterior coat, while the inside of the steak still pink, tender and fresh.

Black-Sesame-Seared-Ahi-Tuna-Tacos_ingredients

Now imagine this delicious Ahi tuna slices over a hand made corn tortilla. Add the following accoutrements; fine shredded cabbage, quick pickled radishes, carrots and jicama for crunch and texture. Fresh pineapple slices, a squeeze of lime for a sharp acid note, and an avocado-wasabi mayo that adds creaminess and spice it up. Do you read what I mean? Taco catharsis warrantied.

Lets’ do this, To make these tacos you will need:

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Summer Rolls with Mango Ginger dipping sauce

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The noodles in my head are fried. August in Texas is no joke. Our Thermostat is on a bi-polar rampage. We are trying to deny the existence of such a thing called “electric bill”. We better stay still and attempt to use the stove much less on these days. Its sad but true, I’m not even craving BBQ or to go out for lunch or dinner when the temperature outside reads 90 F degrees even at 9:00pm. I’m Summernating!

So whats for lunch and dinner these days? The freshest crunchy vegetables, cucumbers, carrots, jicama, crispy lettuce, and thin rice noodles cooked in less than 4 minutes. Summer rolls or Gỏi cuốn which translate in “rice paper rolls, are found all over in East Asia and Southeast Asia cuisine. A fine sticky rice paper is the wrapper which holds vermicelli rice noodles and vegetables. Usually these Summer Rolls are served as a popular appetizer. Odds are you have had them if you eat in Vietnamese or Thai restaurants here in the U.S. But why not make them for dinner as the meal itself?

So what are you going to need? You can find the round rice paper at almost any supermarket with an ethnic foods aisle. Or of course you can shop for them in Asian markets or Wholefoods. They are very inexpensive. If you can’t find them, well you can easily order them online if you are Summernating like me.

These rolls are filled with julianne fresh vegetables, vermicelli noodles and a lean protein, usually shrimp or pork. I used in-season ingredients like fresh cucumbers which I spiralize to create noodles. If you don’t have that handy apparatus you can use a Juliane peeler or your handy-dandy knife skills to make fine vegetable strips of your carrots and lettuce. In this version I added avocado and shrimp.
In addition of the traditional peanut sauce, I prepared a dipping Mango-ginger sauce to make them fresher and add a bit more sweetness. These Summer Rolls are what I’m craving these days.

Summer-Rolls_ingredients

Preparation of these rolls is a sticky affair but I have a nice trick which helps. If this is the first time making Summer Rolls my best advice: “Do Not” follow the instructions on the package, Heheehe. Everything will be easy after that.

Most of the packages and cookbook instructions out there which (for this roll up process I call them “des-tructions”) call to dip the rice paper in water, to soften and rehydrate. Then to carefully transfer this world’s stickiest, see thru, delicate, rice paper film into a wood surface or a plate… Let me tell you, this is a sticky fingers, crinkled edges, tear apart of a nightmare.

To avoid this situation, I will share with you my secret weapon to make these Summer Rolls, roll easily. I use a spray bottle.

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The way I do it is as follows: I place the dry rice paper on a flat round plate. I spray the plate and I spray a couple of times onto the rice paper. Using the tips of my fingers, I distribute the water evenly. Leaving the rice paper onto the same plate is gonna be prepared. This makes for no-transferring nightmares. By the time I place the fresh vegetables, rice noodles, mint leaves, add the shrimp in the center, the rice paper is pliable. Then I spray a little water into one edge of the rice paper and start to peel the rice paper in order to start rolling. It is as easy as peeling a non-stick sticker. The roll-up is smooth and easy. 1-2-3-4 fold, the similar way to wrap a burrito, check out the easy step-by-step roll up photos ahead.
For dipping sauce I made the traditional spicy  and peanut for Ian and I made a Mango-ginger sauce that is my favorite now. ( Between you and this screen, Ian and I chomposaurused about 4 rolls each!…yes, shamelessly, happy and refreshing dinner…shshsh!)

I hope you like this recipe its fun to make, pull out your spray bottles and start rolling up these babies. enjoy!

To make these Summer Rolls you will need….

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Hatch Piña Colada

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The kitschy Sassy, forgotten drink “the Piña Colada” what happened to it?

I think it was forgotten after the caloric curfew of the 90’s… I do not know why people stopped drinking this creamy refreshing and delicious pineapple concoction? Was it the calories or the bad infamous song?…

These days everything about coconut its “chic and healthy”. Coconut oil, coconut flakes, coconut sugar, coconut cream, coconut beauty products, everything coconut can make you more shiny, fragrant, moisturized, and not to mention, those coconut based bronzers can give you a hell of a good tan!. The only forgotten situation related to coconut it’s on the music department; that, has not shown improvements at all. Well, who would attempt right? hehehe!

With this in mind, why not bring a healthier, kitschier, “Sassier” Piña Colada back?

My mission this time was to revamp this cocktail using great fresh ingredients, fresh pineapple, real pineapple juice, spiced rum instead of white rum, thick coconut cream no sugar added, and a coconut sugar simple syrup infused with Hatch peppers that adds high levels of Sass on my revamped version of this refreshing, tangy, creamy spicy cocktail.

An umbrella? Oh yes! a kitschy must!. Maraschino cherries, those I leave up to you, to tell you the truth I forgot to buy them at the super market, boomer!. Instead we used a dash of maraschino liquor. Go figure! some times accidents happen for a great reason, and in this case serendipity was on our side.

Because you love coconut, I love coconut, and every body loves coconut, This weekend, Let’s Piña Colada it!

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Hatch Piña Colada

Makes 4 / 8oz cocktails or 2 Sassy ones.

1 cup fresh Pineapple juice
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
1/2 cup thick coconut cream*
4 Oz. Coconut sugar-Hatch Simple Syrup, recipe follows.
1 hatch chile from the syrup, no seeds.
6oz. Spiced Rum… more, less,  upon how tipsy you want them, your call.
1 generous splasharooh of Maraschino liquor, or a little splash of Maraschino juice from the cherries, if you wanna cherry it up!
3-4 Cups Ice cubes

Preparation Method:

1. Chill your glasses.
2. On a Blender place all the ingredients, blend the heck out of it until smooth and frothy.
3.Serve on chilled Glasses, pull out the umbrellas and straws.Enjoy!

Notes: I used Trader’s Joe’s Coconut cream, it is amazing, has no sugar added is thick, creamy and rich coconut flavor.

Coconut Sugar-Hatch Simple Syrup

1/2 cup organic coconut sugar
1/2 cup organic coconut sugar
1-1/2 cup water
2-3 Hatch Peppers, cut with a knife into strips, with out detaching the steam. see photo below.

In a small pot bring water and chiles to a boil simmer for 3 -4 minutes. Add the sugars, stir until dissolved. Bring to a simmer remove the chiles and transfer them into a 2 cup mason jar. Reduce the syrup until a lose glossy and glistening consistency. Set aside and cool for a few minutes. While still a bit warm add the syrup to the mason jar with the hatch chiles in it. Let it cool off completely before use. Best if made one day in advance for greater concentration of flavor. But If not, no biggy it taste delicious any way! Leftover syrup, Pancakes and Bacon any one?…ehem.

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Music pairing: Guardians of the Galaxy:

Awesome Mix, Vol.1 Full Soundtrack

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Hatch Carnitas Home Made Style

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Hatch it all! The favorite New Mexico Chiles are back in season, and here in Austin hatch season is in full swing.

Hatch everything, I mean everything. Even the things you don’t want to Hatch they will be Hatched.

This green spicy capsicum grown in the Hatch Valley along The Rio Grande, New Mexico is irresistible. The fruity and one note spicy chile get’s you every time. It is the kind of heat that builds up little by little and suddenly you just feel like screaming FUEGO!

This sneaky and delicious chile is the August town fever here in Austin, Texas.

With this contagious spicy Hatch fever, I thought about a new spin on a classic dish from Michoacan, “Carnitas”, Hatch Carnitas is my recipe.

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Me being from Jalisco, the neighbor Michoacan state, the “carnitas” are prepared slightly different than original authentic Michoacanas. Why? Well isn’t it always like that? Different versions upon ingredients and regional. You see the authentic Carnitas are made in a huge copper pot, and if this pot comes from the coppersmithing town Santa Clara del Cobre even better! The whole pig is breaks down into pieces and fry in its own fat within this large single pot. And if the pig comes from La Piedad Cabadas where the best pork is raised in Mexico, even better. Typically they are cooked outside on a wood fire, where the copper pot its triveted and set with pork lard and a huge wood paddle is used to stir the bubbling unctuous meat. Sounds like fun right?…Well not so much, when you live in the city. Honestly, you have to leave this huge production to the experts of Quiroga, Michoacan were the Carnitas were borne. If you have the chance to travel try them. They are a manjar of gods and the real deal.

Slowly but surely this Carnitas recipe traveled to the neighbor states and people adjusted the recipe to a smaller scale, fitted to a more homestyle recipe. The Copper pot gives the authentic color and flavor to the carnitas. With this in mind these recipes have been adjusted by adding different ingredients like orange juice, condensed milk, herbs and spices that mimic a little the authentic flavors. All these alternate recipes are great, in their own style.

Hatch-Carnitas_Ingredients

What I attempted with this recipe is to recreate the “Carnitas” texture and succulent juiciness without using too much fat. I used a neutral oil instead of lard. Grapeseed oil lets the flavor of the sweet pork meat shine. I used pork shoulder that I trimmed a bit to leave a leaner cut of meat, with out compromising the flavor, after all you have to remember the Carnitas origin, and live some flavor. I also adapted the recipe to the flavors of the Hatch peppers. I used fired roasted hatch peppers that added a medium spicy fruity flavor, that gave the meat a great color and a sticky crusty spicy coat in combination with the sweetness from the pineapple juice. These two ingredients balanced the sweet and acidity flavor that in combination with the pork fat its the bomb. Milk and herbs as supporting cast of flavor and tenderness while it braises.

I don’t own a copper pot, but my beloved enamel cast iron red pot its my best accomplice. I know you are wondering why not use the slow cooker? Well I like to be able to control the heat at any time. When you Braise on the stove like this carnitas, I cook them with a lid on for an hour and a half and then uncovered at a bit faster pace for 45 minutes or so, to obtain the best results; crusty glazed exterior and succulent moist inside. I have used the slow cooker in other attempts and the results taste more like pulled pork to me. I’m also including a Simple quick pickled vegetables that is KEY to serve along the Carnitas. This element bring them alive, an acid-spicy-sweet -crunchy and fresh component that just round up every bite. Make them its so easy and it’s a must, I could not imagine Carnitas with out this pickled vegetable concoction its a classic… Slowly but surely these braised Hatch Carnitas will drive you to the moon and back, It is a great version to make at home.
Enjoy the Hatch fever!

If you want to know more about this Capsicum New Mexican Hybrid please click  here or here

For the Hatch Carnitas Recipe you will need…

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