March 31, 2021. Dear Kids– As we end the National Reading month of March, which has been traditionally kicked off with the celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I offer you a dish that sounds like it could have been a Dr. Seuss book and which is another variation on my favorite fast, tasty and nutritious dinner recipe, Fish In a Dish.
I know Dr. Seuss has fallen out of favor with educators and others recently, but I still have many fond memories that are really independent of the author from my visits to your grammar school years ago for Crazy Hat Day, which was celebrated on Dr. Seuss’s birthday to get you all excited about reading. I still can’t help but smile any time I recall the reception I received the one year that my crazy hat featured a Viking helmet with 4 doughnuts threaded on each horn- kids walked into walls looking at the hat (mostly boys) as I walked by and one called me “Doughnut Guy” for years afterwards. So it is from those happy memories that I offer you this recipe in a style reminiscent of our days of silly hats and silly rhymes in hopes that it will inspire you to cook and read more in the days ahead! A more traditional recipe is available at the end of this post, if you’re just not feeling that silly today.
Fish In A Dish- Taco Style
One fish or two Fish, white fish not blue fish, not old fish, fresh fish- the very best fish- Fish in a Dish fish. Just 15 minutes of prep and 12 minutes in the oven to get 4-6 servings your guests will be lovin’. It's white beans from 2 cans, the juice of a lemon and a minced jalapeño that you must smash, to add to a large broiler safe dish, with a bit of dry white wine, for your dinner in a flash. Next comes 1 1/2 pounds of white fish to cover those beans that have zest, then a mix of 2 teaspoons taco seasoning and a few pats of soft butter smeared on the fish to make it the best. Put it on the top rack under a high broiler to get it all nice and hot, then cook it 10-12 minutes, with fish just flaky, so raw it is not. Now comes all the garnish to make it very nice, which starts with an avocado you’ve taken the time to dice. A few thinly sliced radishes for color and zing, then drizzle a mix of 1/2 cup of Ranch and a teaspoon or two of Sriracha to make it really sing. Some salsa as well- that’s 2 cups diced tomatoes that have been mixed in a bowl, with a splash of a lemon, 2 tablespoons cilantro and 2 tablespoons minced red onion to keep on a roll. Last comes a dozen crushed tortilla chips for crunch, and a sprinkle of brightness from a bit of cilantro and scallions you’ve minced from a small bunch. Now when you go to your table, make sure that hot dish is on a heat proof tile, then call all your guests to enjoy the wonderful bounty called Fish In a Dish- Taco Style. Once the meal comes to an end you will surely be glad, that you made this delicious feast from the dinner diary of dad. PS- If you’re a vegan do not despair, swap in lots of thinly sliced bell peppers and onions for the fish that you will spare.
So Many Fish and A Dish Opportunities. While my favorite Fish In a Dish is Taco Style, there are so many more combinations to explore by mixing and matching your favorite fish, quick cooking or precooked fixings, garnishes and sauce(s). The first Fish In a Dish I ever made was Thai Chile style- salmon coated with a thin layer of Sriracha and a thicker layer of Thai Sweet chili Sauce, cooked on top of and surrounded by sliced bell peppers and red onions and finished with toasted sesame seeds and minced cilantro. This is also the recipe that inspired Socially Conscious Chili-Maple Glazed Salmon for Thanksgiving. Just a few examples of where you can take this recipe. If you haven’t noticed yet, Fish In a Dish, is really just a better version of all those Sheet Pan Dinners out there that are all the rage!
Make Your Own Taco Seasoning. Admittedly, I am happy to use most low sodium taco seasonings found in envelopes in the international aisle of the grocery store, but if you want to make your own, mix up 1/4 cup chili powder, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1-2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/4 teaspoon or more cayenne pepper, if you like it spicy.
Dr. Seuss’s Paperboy. I actually knew Dr. Seuss’s paperboy, and to make matters more interesting, he was a paperboy who delivered rainy day papers, with his kind dad at the wheel, in a Rolls Royce. I’m not really that old, but when I was a much younger man, I was lucky enough to meet an elderly mentor, Mr. “Warren” who helped me gain the confidence to go to graduate school, at a time when I was the only one in my family who had even gone to college. Mr. Warren was my grandfather’s age and grew up in Dr. Seuss’s hometown of Springfield, MA in the 1920s. This was also when Rolls Royce had a factory there that selected people from the town to drive around new cars for months to make sure the cars were perfect before they were sold and that’s how Mr. Warren came to have one at his disposal on rainy days.
The Not At All Silly, Fish In a Dish- Taco Style Recipe. Set up top oven rack and preheat broiler to high. Add beans from 2- 15.5 ounce cans of cannellini beans to a large gratin or other broiler safe dish, add juice of one lemon, smash beans up with lemon and mix in one minced jalapeño. If you have it, pour 1/2 cup of dry white wine over and around the mash. Mix 1-2 tablespoons soft, unsalted butter with a few teaspoons of your favorite low sodium taco seasoning and spread it over 1 1/2 pounds of cod or haddock. Place fish over beans and broil on high until fish is cooked through and just flaky- about 10-12 minutes. While fish cooks set up garnishes- dice an avocado and stir up with some lemon juice; chop up a few tomatoes and mix in 2 tablespoons each of lemon juice, minced red onion and minced cilantro and salt to taste; mix together a 1/2 cup Ranch or Lite Ranch dressing and a few teaspoons Sriracha; crush a dozen tortilla chips; mince up some cilantro and scallions and thinly slice a few radishes. Top Fish in a Dish or individual servings with garnishes.
Keywords: fish, taco, fun food, pescatarian, vegan option
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