Thursday, April 24, 2008

Grilled Fish and Shrimp Tacos

Grilled Fish and Shrimp Tacos

We've mentioned before that we really like the seafood tacos at South Beach Bar & Grille. It is one of the first places we hit up when we returned to San Diego from our travels in Mexico.

Inspired by the tacos at South Beach, we've been making our own that taste almost as good. We've used a variety of different fish - this time we used black cod and grouper and but we've also used sea bass and mahi mahi. Large, firm-fleshed fish work best.

Grilled Fish and Shrimp Tacos

We cook the fish and shrimp indoors on a grill pan - we find it gives us more control.

Grilled Fish and Shrimp Tacos

The key to these tacos, though is the salsa. Tomato, onion and red cabbage are marinated with vinegar and a touch of salt.

Grilled Fish and Shrimp Tacos

The result is a vibrant fresh salsa with a twangy bite from the vinegar. Our recipe is at the end of this post.

Grilled Fish and Shrimp Tacos

To make the tacos, we use "snack size" flour tortillas. While we generally prefer corn tortillas for most other kinds of tacos, South Beach uses flour and we find that they work really well with seafood.

Grilled Fish and Shrimp Tacos

The small tortillas make for a perfect sized taco.

Grilled Fish and Shrimp Tacos

I'm not a big fan of the traditional white sauce. I find that particularly with grilled tacos (as opposed to battered and fried) it masks the fresh flavors of the seafood and the salsa. We do follow South Beach's approach with a tiny bit of melted cheddar on the tortilla however.

Grilled Fish and Shrimp Tacos

Salsa for Grilled Fish and Shrimp Tacos

3 tomatoes, cored and seeded
1/4 white onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (less if using table salt)
1/2 cup finely sliced, red cabbage

Chop the tomato flesh into small dice. Mix with the onion, vinegar and salt. Carefully fold in the red cabbage.

Let sit at room temperature one to two hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with a slotted spoon, or drain before using.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Making Homemade Bagels

Making Homemade Bagels

Ok, we're certainly not New Yorkers but even we know that bagels here in San Diego leave a lot to be desired. They aren't so much bagels as they are bagel-shaped bread. They don't have the correct outer "skin", and they don't have enough chew when you bite into them.

So what are you supposed to do here when you are craving a good bagel? Make your own.

Making Homemade Bagels

We used a recipe from Crust and Crumb by Peter Reinhart. You start with a loose, wet, poolish sponge that is slow fermented, then a lot of flour, plus a little more yeast, water and salt is added to create a rather dense dough. Five minutes of kneading in the stand mixer followed by five minutes on the board results in a smooth, satiny, fairly dry dough (and tired arms).

Forming bagel shapes is pretty easy: just make dinner-roll sized balls, let rest a minute, then stick your thumb through the middle and gently stretch. Done!

Making Homemade Bagels

The bagels poof slightly after a couple hours at room temperature, but then it's important to put them in the fridge overnight to develop more flavor.

Next up, poach the dough in simmering water, a minute on each side. I'd always wondered why bagels get boiled, but now I know it's the real key to getting a chewy bagel with that characteristic shiny crust.

Making Homemade Bagels

A quick dip in some sesame seeds is followed by a 14 minute bake.

The result - a very nice bagel indeed. We won't be a threat to the New York deli scene any time soon, but we've definitely found our best local option.

Making Homemade Bagels

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring Barbecue

We've been having some really nice weather recently, so we decided it was time to dust of the barbecue and initiate grilling season. The dish above we dubbed Grilled Pork Tenderloin a la Mexicana. It is inspired by a really nice Puntas a la Mexicana, which was beef tips in a tomato-chile sauce. Here we are using whole slices of pork, but the flavors are very similar.

But grilling season hasn't really begun until we've done our first slab of ribs.

We served up this batch with some potato salad and some grilled asparagus.

And of course we can't forget barbecued chicken. There is nothing quite like crispy sauce-slathered chicken skin hot off of the grill.

We haven't posted a recipe in a while, so here is our house barbecue sauce. It is the recipe I grew up with and is still my favorite. We sometimes modify it a bit - adding some chile for heat, for example.

Barbecue Sauce

6 tablespoons minced onions
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a small sauce pan, saute onion in butter to soften. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Testa on Toast

We made second batch of Testa the other day (you can find the Coppa di Testa recipe here), and it turned out nicely again. We used less tongue this time and added more of the gelatinous "face bits".

Yesterday night we had it served cold on toast as an appetizer. Great savory flavor with a sharp accent from the pickled shallots on top.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Guest Blogging

Our friends Elise and Tom were visiting us for the past few days, and while we ate well, I haven't been very good about blogging it.

Fortunately, Elise was better than I. You can check it out on their blog.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Back In San Diego - Satisfying Cravings

After two months traveling in Mexico, we're back in Pacific Beach and we had a few itches we needed to scratch.

First up, a pint of a good, local San Diego Pale Ale. In this case, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA - maybe my current favorite among local offerings. We had it at the Tap Room, which while not yet even coming close to making us forget about the loss of the Liars' Club is definitely growing on us. Being three blocks away from our house doesn't hurt its case. Now if only they would stop serving their beer in chilled glasses...

People generally argue about whether Rocky's or Hodad's has the best burger in town. While I like both, my personal favorite is at Cass St. Bar & Grill.

No muss, no fuss, no fancy extra toppings (other than the nicely grilled onions) - just a great burger. And the best thing is that when you order it medium-rare, that's what you get. Nice and juicy with a built in internal clock - you'd better get it down your neck before it falls apart.

While it may or may not have the best fish tacos in the country, South Beach Bar & Grille has some of the best I've personally had. Add in the great location, good vibe and the fact that my favorite beer has a firm place in their tap list, and it is was definitely a spot we were looking to return to. Below is their calamari taco, a favorite of ours.

And finally, a Carne Asada Burrito from Taco Surf. Sure, it's not "authentic" Mexican food and it is certainly not "Alta Cocina", but San Diego taco shop food is something I love and I definitely miss it when I am gone. Even on a trip to Mexico. As I explained it when talking food with the locals - "En San Diego, tenemos nuestra propia comida Mexicana".

Taco Surf does a great Carne Asada Burrito - just savory meat and great guacamole. Add in a dash of hot sauce between mouthfuls and it is pure heaven.