Summer Days: Grilled Halibut Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa

Halibut tacos.TheCubanReuben.comFor many of us, Labor Day weekend marks the end of the summer months. I’m happy to report that Kenny and I made the absolute best of summer this year. For us, summer really began in May, when Kenny graduated from business school after three long years of working during the day and studying at night.

KennysGraduation

I definitely earned this post-graduation moment right here.

We started by visiting Kenny’s parents in his hometown of Columbus, OH, where we ate our weight in Graeter’s ice cream, and experienced a true Midwestern fourth of July celebration. From there, we ventured to Indianapolis, IN to welcome our family’s newest addition to the tribe, baby Esther Rose Stempel. Kenny and I soaked up the time with our nephews and niece as best we could, because we don’t get to see them very often.

Uncle Ken shows Eli how to make the trains run. There may be another engineer in the family, soon!

Uncle Ken shows Eli how to make the trains run. There may be another engineer in the family, soon!

We enjoyed pizza parties, pasta-making parties, bachelor parties, and more parties than I think our geriatric selves have experienced in our lifetime. A particular highlight was “Pizza and Path” at the Saly Cortile Cucina, hosted by Matt and Dana Saly. They invited a fabulous group of their friends to enjoy a night of fresh pizza and fine tunes by an old favorite of mine, Joshua Path (aka, Josh Bloomberg). We shared memories of old camp days and even sang some of the songs we remembered, while Josh introduced me to some of his newer melodies.

Dena Zelig and I huddle up with our fave rocker, Joshua Path. He's even better than I remembered!

Dena Zelig and I huddle up with our fave rocker, Joshua Path. He’s even better than I remembered!

And what’s a summer with Kenny Stempel without a little fishing? In early August, Kenny and I joined our extended family for a memorable fishing trip in Mammoth Lakes, CA. We hit up June Lake and Convict Lake, and had a wonderful time relaxing on the pontoon while we caught some trout.

He doesn't get more relaxed than this!

He doesn’t get more relaxed than this!

One of Summer’s greatest highlights for Kenny was the fishing trip he took with my dad to Alaska. Similarly to the trip that Kenny and my dad took a couple years ago, this year’s trip produced a freezer full of fish I barely know what to do with. This time around, in addition to the loads of salmon, Kenny gifted me with another prized catch, as well: fresh Alaskan halibut. Despite my disdain for all things fishy fish, this is actually good news, as halibut really does have a relatively mild flavor, which of course, makes it easier for me to enjoy my intake of omega-3’s.

Halibut tacos aerial.TheCubanReuben.com

The colorful display of tacos.

The moment Kenny walked through the door with loads of this freshly caught fish, I went to work dreaming up a recipe that aims to please. I created a citrus-heavy marinade for the fish that is balanced perfectly with the sweet and savory mango avocado salsa that decorates the top of the taco, and makes for one ridiculous bite-ful of goodness.   I can’t think of a better way to keep the summer going than by whipping up this recipe that, simply put, tasted like summer. No matter the time of year, one bite from these babies, and you’ll be right back smack in the middle of your own favorite summer memory, too.

 

Grilled Halibut Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 3-4
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
The savory flavors of this grilled fish pair perfectly with the sweet fruit salsa.
Ingredients
For the fish
  • 12 oz Alaskan Halibut fillets
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 1 whole lime, juiced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ⅛ tsp paprika
  • ⅛ tsp chili powder
  • ⅛ tsp cumin
  • pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
For the salsa
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped minced red onion
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the tacos
  • 6 taco-sized tortillas (I used whole wheat)
  • Lime wedges
Instructions
  1. In a plastic bag, add fish, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Tightly seal bag, and massage the fish until all ingredients are combined. Store in the refrigerator, and marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, gently fold together mango, avocado, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, tomatoes, lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper, and set aside.
  3. Heat an indoor grill pan to medium high heat, and drizzle with olive oil. Cook halibut 3-5 minutes per side, or until flaky.
  4. Warm tortillas according to package instructions.
  5. Fill each tortilla with flakes of fish, top with salsa, garnish with lime wedges, and serve immediately.

 

Alaskan Salmon

baked salmon

This past summer, my husband and father braved the cold Alaskan air to take a fishing trip together. My husband has enjoyed fishing since his childhood, when he would go on special trips with his grandpa, and my dad, well… he likes the camaraderie. As someone who doesn’t love fish, I was hoping they would have a good time, share stories, bond, and maybe come home with a fillet or two. I can deal with a fillet or two. But oh, no. Not these guys. When they go fishing, they go fishing, and when they returned home, lucky me, I got a truck-load of freshly caught salmon.

KennyDadAlaskaFish

Salmon, with all of its healthy omega 3’s and oils packed into its pink flesh, (which, by the way, is exactly what makes it taste so…well, fishy), makes it onto the list of my least favorite fish to eat and cook. But I found myself with an overflowing freezer full of cleaned, de-boned,  filleted salmon, and a husband eager to taste the fruits of his labor. So I was on a quest to find at least one fool-proof salmon recipe that even I, hater of all things “fishy” could tolerate, and even enjoy.Cleaning salmon

I asked the different chefs in my family, as I am the only one with this aversion, what they do to season their fish, and the consensus was to keep it simple. I can do that. I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. My cousin, Ilianita, suggested using fresh lemon juice and garlic, a classic mixture in Cuban cuisine. Others suggested herbs, and it was my dear husband who had the bright idea to add some wine to the mix (although, later he fessed to hearing the tip from one of the fishing pros in Alaska). I tried a few different variations, until I found the perfect blend. And let’s just say that this once fish-hater ate my whole darn piece of fish. Perhaps it was because this fish was so fresh, or maybe it was the marinade, but my salmon really didn’t taste fishy at all. Each bite was naturally buttery, and sweetly perfumed by the citrus and herbs.

I made this dish for a Shabbat dinner when one of my friends who keeps kosher was in attendance, as fish is considered pareve (that is, it is neither milk or meat, and can be prepared and eaten without too many restrictions). Served with couscous and a nice salad, it turns out fresh Alaskan Salmon is a real crowd-pleaser.

Now, what to do with the rest of the stash?

Fresh Caught Salmon

 

4.5 from 2 reviews
Baked Salmon
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
This is the winning recipe for fish that even non-fish-eaters will enjoy.
Ingredients
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 Tbs basil
  • 2 Tbs fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4 6oz fillets of Alaskan Salmon
Instructions
  1. In a resealable plastic bag, combine first 7 ingredients (garlic to salt/pepper). Close the bag, and massage it, so the ingredients mix to form a marinade.
  2. Place the salmon filets in the bag, and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Make a packet using tinfoil, and place each salmon filet plus a little bit of the marinade in its own packet. Seal tightly.
  5. Place the foil packets on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, or until fish is flaky.
  6. Serve immediately.