Monday, April 30, 2012

Halibut Tikka Tacos

This is another in the series of posts on Alaskan fish tacos.  I agreed to blog some posts for the Alaskan fish taco board, or some such organization, and was compensated for doing so.  Truthfully, the compensation wouldn't be enough to get me to do the posts if I didn't like Alaskan seafood and feel it were important to promote sustainable fisheries.  In addition, Sunh Fish in Sacramento has moved and expanded and they have some of the freshest fish available.  The halibut for these tacos was pristine, one of the nicest pieces of fish I have ever had.

Halibut marinated in Indian spices, then quickly grilled and served with a cilantro garlic yogurt sauce seemed like a good idea for a taco with a twist.  This was a simple dish to prepare and could have been even easier had I used a packaged tandoori spice mix.  I made up my own, a simple mixture of cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne.  This I mixed with some fresh ginger, garlic, salt, and yogurt.  I marinated cubes of the halibut in this for about two hours before grilling over coals on my sate grill. As this was for tacos, I served this in a homemade flour tortilla with shredded cabbage, a simple mango salsa, and the cilantro garlic yogurt sauce, but it would have been equally delicious with rice.

Halibut Tikka Tacos

1 pound of fresh halibut fillet
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and sliced
juice of one lime
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
1 TBS garam masala
1 TBS coriander seeds, toasted, cooled and ground to a fine powder
1 TBS cumin seeds, toasted, cooled and ground to a fine powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 TBS paprika

Skin the fillet and cut into 1-inch cubes.  In a mortar, crush the garlic and ginger with the salt to a smooth paste.  Transfer this to a glass container, or baggie, and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Marinate the fish in this mixture in the refrigerator for up to two hours.  You don't want to marinate too long because the lime and yogurt will begin to affect the texture of the fish.

Thread the marinated cubes of fish onto bamboo skewers.  Grill briefly, maybe about 5 minutes altogether, over hot coals.  Place several pieces of fish into a warmed flour tortilla.  Add some finely shredded cabbage, mango salsa, and thinly sliced pickled red onion.  Add the cilantro garlic yogurt sauce.  Serve with black beans and rice.  A good cold beer or a well made margarita is the perfect drink to accompany this.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Korean Bacon Explosion

The original bacon explosion, according to the NY Times, was originally done as part challenge and part stunt to attract traffic to  It was wildly successful, generating over 27,000 hits on Christmas Day, a few days after its posting, and almost half a million hits within one month.  Nothing quite celebrates the birth of Jesus like several pounds of bacon wrapped around several pounds of sausage stuffed with more fried bacon.  Talk about your come to Jesus moments!

Since its debut, the bacon explosion has attracted numerous admirers and detractors.  It is an excessive, over the top celebration of pork.  About two years after it first appeared on the net, EpicMealTime, a Youtube production by a group of stupid smart Canucks, applied the principles of the bacon explosion to a series celebrating excess, gaining over two and a quarter million subscribers to their weekly episodes.  Vegetarians, dietitians, and people who are upset by seeing food wasted while millions are hungry, may not find EpicMealTime or the bacon explosion their cup of tea.  I, however, appreciate this brand of humor. 

The impetus for my take on the bacon explosion was the expiration of my nephew's visa. Sam has been staying with us the last several months while looking for a job.  Having graduated with a degree in finance, he was unable to find a job in the current market here in the States.  As a result, he must return to Indonesia.  My family wanted a chance to say goodbye to him before he left, so my sister and her husband hosted a farewell dinner at their house on Sunday.  Kathy and my mother provided drinks and dessert, my brother and his wife brought the beer, and I brought the food.  Everyone in our family likes pork, and Sam is fond of Korean food (although he's a wuss when it comes to spiciness), so I thought I'd try to come up with a variation on the bacon explosion using fresh pork belly.

Sliced pork belly can be found in some Asian markets; I bought it at the local Ranch 99.  I removed the skin from the slices and fried those up. 

Around the strips of fried skin I wrapped a little over three pounds of pork shoulder that I had ground and seasoned with salt, powdered dehydrated onion, cayenne, Korean BBQ sauce and Chinese chili in oil sauce. (Commercial sausage and most ground pork in the supermarket has an even higher fat content.  Commercial sausage also tends to be very heavily salted.  It may seem foolish to worry about fat and salt content in a recipe such as this, but I think you end up with a tastier dish, which may be marginally less harmful from a health standpoint.) 

I marinated a little over a pound and a half of thinly sliced beef brisket that I bought at a Korean market in some Korean BBQ sauce. 

I wrapped the ground pork mixture with the marinated beef slices. 

I then wrapped the beef wrapped pork mixture with a blanket of woven pork belly slices. 

I seasoned the exterior with a liberal sprinkling of a dry rub containing paprika, ancho chili powder, powdered ginger, cayenne, brown sugar, and sea salt. 

This was smoked for about 4 hours at 225º F, until the internal temperature of the pork reached 160º F. The last half hour I brushed the top with the Korean BBQ sauce.


We had ca tai chanh with sesame crackers as an appetizer.  For dinner, I provided grilled asparagus salad with black bean vinaigrette,  red leaf lettuce for wrapping the sliced meat roll, pickled daikon and julienned carrots for adding to the rolls, and steamed rice.  Kathy made some ice cream pies for dessert.  This was plenty for twelve adults, providing another night of leftovers.