Houston’s ‘Enchilada Queen’ shares the secret of fish tacos
When it comes to Tex-Mex cuisine, Sylvia Casares is royalty. Casares, after all, has been crowned Houston’s “Enchilada Queen.” We asked Casares to share a recipe from her newly released “The Enchilada Queen Cookbook.” The cookbook features 80 recipes for enchiladas, fajitas and classic side dishes. But the one that caught our eye was Casares’ take on Gulf Coast Fish Tacos.
Fish tacos aren’t traditional in South Texas — they’re a California creation. But Casares, a native of Brownsville who has lived in Houston for many years and loves the Texas Gulf Coast, developed her own version in response to customers’ many requests.
For this recipe, Casares suggests using your favorite fish or what’s seasonally available, including red snapper, mahi mahi, trout, halibut, catfish or tilapia. Fish for tacos tastes really wonderful when grilled over hot coals, Casares said. But you also can pan-cook fish on top of the stove on a griddle or in a heavy skillet.
She uses fresh, handmade corn tortillas and garnishes with Picamole, her signature chopped avocado and pico de gallo combination, and Creamy Sauce.
When preparing fish tacos, ready the Creamy Sauce and Picamole before grilling. Heat the tortillas last.
Gulf Coast Fish Tacos
4 (7- to 9-ounce) skinless white fish fillets, such as red snapper, mahi mahi, trout, halibut, catfish or tilapia
1 tablespoon Enchilada Queen Seasoning Blend (recipe follows), or to taste
¼ cup melted unsalted butter, vegetable oil or a combination
8 corn tortillas
Optional garnishes: Shredded cabbage, diced red onion, shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce or diced tomatoes
Light a wood or hardwood charcoal fire at least 30 minutes before you are ready to cook. Coals are ready when covered with a light coating of gray ash. Or preheat gas grill to medium-high for 30 minutes. If cooking on the stovetop, preheat a griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
Sprinkle the seasoning blend evenly on both sides of the fish fillets.
When ready to cook, rub the charcoal grill surface lightly with oil. If using a griddle or skillet, lightly butter the griddle or skillet. Place the fish over the heat. Grill or griddle for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Fish is done when it pulls apart easily when probed with a fork.
Cut the fish fillets into bite-size pieces; keep warm.
To warm up the tortillas, preheat a griddle over medium-high heat. Using a nonstick spatula, place tortilla on the hot griddle and cook on one side until the tortilla puffs slightly. Turn and cook to heat through. Place the hot tortilla in a medium bowl lined with a dish towel or in a tortilla warmer. Repeat until all the tortillas are heated.
Fill each tortilla with 1⁄4 cup of fish, Creamy Sauce and Picamole (recipes follow). Garnish each as desired.
Enchilada Queen Seasoning Blend
Yields: About 1⁄3 cup
4 teaspoons garlic powder
4 teaspoons onion powder
4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a small container or shaker.
Store in an airtight container in a dark place or refrigerate for up to 6 months.
Creamy Sauce for Fish Tacos
Yields: 1 1⁄2 cups
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup ketchup
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients, blending well. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to serve.
Yields: 2 Cups
1 cup tomato, chopped into
¾ cup yellow onion, chopped into 1⁄3-inch cubes
1 (3-inch-long) jalapeño, minced (seeded, if desired, to lessen the heat), about 1⁄8 cup
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
2 ripe avocados, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes, about 2½ cups
Place the tomato in a strainer, rinse and drain.
In a medium bowl, combine the drained tomato, onion, jalapeño, cilantro and lime juice. Sprinkle with salt. Using a rubber spatula, combine gently.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the avocados.
Tightly cover the Picamole with plastic wrap directly on the surface to make it airtight.
The Picamole can be refrigerated a couple of hours before serving. Don’t freeze.
“The Enchilada Queen Cookbook” (St. Martin’s Griffin, $27.98): www.sylviasenchiladas.com