Chris is a gorgeous redhead who hails from Boston but resides in Atlanta. She held several different careers in marketing and middle school education before realizing that cooking and baking were her true loves. She is quite accomplished in the food blogging and culinary sphere, as she has attended the Art Institute in Atlanta and does smaller catering gigs. Definitely check out her awesome blog!
Mele Cotte means Baked Apples in Italian (I did not know that!), and yes, Italian is her heritage. So of course, I had to go and choose something Mexican. Because I just do things like that. These deconstructed fish tacos immediately caught my eye. I am a huge fish taco fan, and I love playing around with the whole deconstructed concept, so I think I was just meant to find this recipe on Chris’ blog.
I adapted the recipe, mainly because it’s written as four servings and I’m only cooking for two people. And then I made a few smaller changes, just added some chili powder to the fish and topped it with some crispy tortilla strips. After viewing the food on the plate and taking my first bite, I remarked to Matt that you could also probably call these upside-down fish tacos, because fish tacos are based with a tortilla and the cabbage is just the garnish, whereas these are the exact opposite.
And yet, they taste exactly as advertised. So delicious, light and healthy, full of Mexican flavor. We absolutely loved them and I can’t wait to play around with the concept some more and make them again. Thank you for a fabulous recipe Chris!
Source: adapted from Mele Cotte
Juice of 3 limes, divided
1 tsp chili powder
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 grouper fillets, or any white fish
1/2 a green cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1 tbs plus 3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 corn tortillas
Canola oil, for frying
Queso fresco or Cotija cheese, crumbled, for garnish
In a small baking dish (I used a glass 8×8 glass baker), mix together the juice of 2 limes, chili powder, 1 tbs olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste. Add the grouper and turn them over a few times so they are fully coated. Set aside but leave out at room temperature while you prep the cabbage and prepare the guacamole, if making it yourself.
Carefully slice the cabbage very thin; using a mandoline works best and quickest. Pile the cabbage into a bowl and squeeze the remaining lime over it. Add the 3 tsp olive oil and toss to combine. Don’t salt it yet. Set aside.
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the fish fillets and cook about 7 minutes total, flipping once, until they are just cooked through. You may need a shorter or longer time depending on your fish’s thickness. When done, remove to a plate and let rest 3-5 minutes. With a fork, flake or chunk the fillets.
Add about an inch of canola oil to a small to medium skillet and heat on high. Cut the tortillas into 1-inch-wide strips, then cut those strips in half crosswise. When the oil is ready, fry the tortilla strips for just a few minutes. You’ll know they are ready when the bubbles start subsiding and their color has turned golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.
To serve, first season the cabbage with salt and pepper and toss. Then assemble as follows: cabbage spread out on a dinner plate, topped with guacamole, then dot liberally or conservatively with salsa, followed by chunks of fish, and finally tortilla strips and queso fresco. Serve immediately.