Fall is finally here. Finally. After the crazy brutal summer we suffered, I’m so thankful the weather has finally broken to the point I don’t want to think about anything summer-related. Not the beach, not the pool, not the cookouts, not the summer culinary harvest. It’s time for fall delectables. It’s time for National Taco Day.
The almighty taco is the single noshing that escapes my wrath of summer misery. Tacos are welcomed anytime of year, for any occasion, for any reason, for lunch, dinner, and sometimes even breakfast. They are simply a glorious hand held mixture of fresh goodness, with endless possibilities of stacking and topping. More truthfully, the idea of tacopalooza at the beginning of fall has been mostly inspired by my reintroduction to road cycling. I’ll bore with that fun newness in my life in a few days. Until then, the one stand out from immersing myself into my local cycling community is the single-minded eating approach both pro and avid cyclists have: Ride. Drink beer. Eat tacos.
Needless to say, I’ve been enjoying all matters of tacos this season as as result of rolling with hard core cyclists who swear by the culture. I thought it only appropriate to come up with a few taco iterations for my cyclists friends — most of whom have come to know my work through my Strava profile — and assuredly expect I whip up a taco bar for them at some point. I’ve indulged on or two of them here and there. For the rest, I thought that for now, I could share these crazy good salmon tacos.
Fish tacos aren’t the most complicated thing to make — we know this — but if you want to step outside the box and create something different, look no further than your own pantry. You are sure to be inspired to create a myriad of sauces or even craft dry rub seasonings.
My seasoned salmon made a fantastic base for the tacos, but the secret was in the sauce. It’s always in the sauce. I’m not a mayo fan, even when I make it from scratch, so I opted for a different approach. A coconut milk dressing for the slaw was perfect. My inspiration for the coconut milk was the abundance of coconut I enjoyed in Dominican Republic earlier this year. I found freshly grated coconut flakes at the farmers’ market in the old city of Santo Domingo. And in my house, coconut flan is one of the default faves for most celebratory evenings. And so a coconut milk dressing it was. It was creamy but light, rounded flavor but simple, and a perfect tang to the bold fish.
Cycling season is officially over, which has me in a tizzy. So while I’m not holding on to anything reminiscent of summer, I will keep the taco loyalty in place as a place holder until March, when the next season kicks off. Although, the indoor trainer counts as some form of riding, therefore rightly justifying tacos during the off-season.
Or like Hillary Clinton paraphrased “I’m down for taco trucks on every corner in America!” Yeah, girl. We feel you.
Happy National Taco Day!
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.
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Salmon Tacos with Spicy Coconut Milk Slaw
- 12 oz salmon
- 3 cups cabbage, shredded
- 1 cup coconut milk
- juice from 1/2 lime
- 2 tsp. coriander
- 1.5 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 cup red onion, minced
- 5 cherry tomatoes, minced
- 1 small yellow pepper, minced
Preheat oven to 400F. Season salmon with salt, pepper, oregano and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Let marinade for one hour. Transfer the fish to a large sheet of aluminum foil. Baste the fish with olive oil. Cover with the foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake on 350F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Make slaw. In a large bowl, mix the coconut milk and all of the spices. Whisk until all ingredients are well-blended. Toss in cabbage. Salt to taste if desired.
Warm tortillas in 8″ skillet until you see a few brown spots starting to form, approximately one minute. Assemble tacos. Add 2 oz of flaked salmon to each tortilla. Add cabbage with slaw juice. Top with vegetables and cilantro. Add an additional spoonful of slaw sauce if desired.
* Chef’s notes: Tacos are best if made the day after salmon is made. Heat olive oil in skillet. Warm salmon for 3-4 minutes on medium high heat and covered to maintain moisture. For heightened flavor, refrigerate slaw for a day before making tacos.