September might be my favorite month to cook. The amount of fantastic produce available is staggering, the weather is cool enough to make time in the kitchen pleasant, and blending flavors, textures, and even cooking techniques is easy and brings a lot to the table … literally. This recipe has a LOT going on, but rest assured that even if you follow through on all the parts, it's not a long or involved process … though you can also pick and choose if time, ingredients, and/or energy is limited.
First, if pickled onions aren't your thing, feel free to use fresh or sautéed onions instead … or skip them. The onions here are a quick pickled variety that also includes a bit of extra virgin olive oil … a little reminiscent of the approach taken with chimichurri recipes in Latin America - you could even use a version of chimichurri on these instead of the onions, if you prefer. The mix of vegetables sautéed and added to the tacos can shift too. It's just that both corn and peppers are still fresh and fantastic in September and that's why they are offered. The blackening seasoning included here is one of my favorite and I tend to make it in large batches and store it with my other spice blends, but you could also find your favorite Cajun seasoning and use that. And, of course, additional condiment choices are up to you - if you opt to have them at all. Make it yours and enjoy the opportunity to do some simple preserving, sautéing, spice blending, and blackening … or don't. Make it yours.
Chips, salsa, and guacamole are nice items to have on the table with these tacos. Various renditions of spicy rice with beans also works well. Fresh cut melon this time of the year is nothing short of stunning. And a cold beer, margarita, or limeade are all lovely choices to wash it all down with.
- 1 red onion, sliced thin
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- Enough extra virgin olive oil to fill the jar (see recipe for instructions)
- 1 teaspoon chili oil
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 cup corn kernels - fresh is best
- ½ cup chopped pepper - I used a combination of orange sweet pepper and hatch chiles
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried epazote or oregano
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 ½ pounds firm whitefish fillets - I used walleye
- 8-10 street taco tortillas
- Sauces/salsas as condiments, as desired - I used bang bang sauce!
For the pickled onions, place the sliced red onions into a small jar, sprinkling with salt and pepper as you pack them. Add the red wine vinegar to the jar and then fill with enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the onions. Place the lid on t he jar and vigorously shake the jar. Set it on the counter and let it sit at least during the time it takes to make the rest of the dish or up to 24 hours. (Note: you might not use all of the onions with these tacos. If not, place the lid on the jar and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. They are great on sandwiches, in salads, or as a condiment on just about anything.)
In a skillet, heat the chili oil and the butter together over medium-high heat. Add the corn and chopped peppers and sauté until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.
Combine the next 9 ingredients (smoked paprika through fine sea salt) in a small bowl and rub the mixture thoroughly into the fish fillets. Using the same skillet as you did to sauté the vegetables, sear the fish on both sides until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes per side. You may need to add more oil/butter to the skillet, but I found I did not. Remove the fish to a plate and cut into smaller pieces as needed for tacos.
Assemble the tacos using the fish, corn-pepper mixture, pickled onions, and additional condiments as desired. Enjoy different combinations while the fish is hot and fresh.
- Yields: 4-6 servings
- Preparation Time: 45 minutes