A warm summer night called for a light and refreshing meal, so I came up with blackened hake tacos with lime-avocado spread and a sweet chili sour cream. I picked hake because it's a nice flaky white fish like cod that goes well with all different types of seasoning. To go along with this, I made a cucumber salad and fried plantains.
First, I coated the fish with seasoning so that it would absorb the flavor. I mixed chili powder, cayenne, paprika, ground cumin, salt, and pepper and coated the fish generously.
I then peeled, seeded, and cut up the cucumber for the salad. For the dressing, I mixed red wine vinegar and honey in a bowl, and tossed the sliced cuke. I put this aside in the fridge to let the cuke absorb the sweet and tangy flavors of the dressing so that it was almost a quick pickle-type salad.
I then worked on the condiments for the tacos. I spooned an avocado into a bowl, sprinkled it with salt and lime, and mashed it up with a potato masher. I wanted it to be a little chunky, so I used the masher instead of a food processor to keep the avocado texture the way I wanted it. Once this was mashed, I placed plastic wrap directly on top of it to avoid oxidization.
I then made my sweet chili sour cream. I mixed a few spoonfuls of sour cream with a spoonful of Greek yogurt. I then mixed in honey and sriracha chili sauce, mixing until fully incorporated so the sauce turns pink. I tasted a few times to get the desired balance of sweet and spice and set aside.
I then went to work on the plantains. I've only worked with plantains a couple of times before, and unfortunately, the one I bought was not ripe, but I made do with what I had to work with. I peeled it and sliced it into quarter inch thick slices. I then heated some vegetable oil up in my heavy bottom dutch oven pot, and once the oil began to sizzle around the test slice I put in, I dumped in the rest of the plantains, careful not to splatter the oil.
Once the plantains were golden in color, I removed them from the oil, pressed them flat with the back of a wooden spoon. I have read in recipes that this is a good way to ensure they cook through and are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
While I was cooking the plantains, I heated the broiler and put the seasoned fish in for about 15 minutes until the flesh flaked with a fork. I let it sit to finish cooking and then flaked it all so that I could construct my tacos. While it was sitting, I wrapped the flour tortillas in aluminum foil and heated them in a warm oven.
The tacos turned out very well. They were simple but very flavorful. The spice mix gave the fish a nice kick which was amplified by the sweet chili sauce. The avocado has a nice balance of citrus and saltiness that offset the spice of the fish and sauce. The cucumber salad was very bright and refreshing, and the plantains, though dry, had a nice saltiness that contrasted the vinegar bite of the cucumber salad.
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