Healthy Fish Quesadillas!I basically grew up as a kid in a great California Mexican restaurant kitchen that my step grandfather managed. My step grandfather also managed a small chain of taqueria restaurants and I used to tag along as he did his rounds. In doing so, I learned plenty about the restaurant business at an early age and of course, Mexican food became second nature.
There is a difference between traditional Mexican food and Tex-Mex or Cal-Mex cuisine. In modern times, north of the border food items, like Burritos or Quesadillas, are becoming more common in Mexico. This is especially true in tourist trade areas.
Fish Tacos actually are one of the first tacos made in ancient times. The Aztecs made tacos with fresh caught fish from a local lake. An authentic Taco de Pescado is simply a cooked piece of fish on a tortilla with a minimum of garnishes. Fish Tacos have become a popular snack food in America in recent years, but the Fish Tacos in trendy restaurants are not the same as what is made in Mexico. Many restaurants use a fast food style frozen batter coated fish product and garnish the tacos with all sorts of unnecessary toppings.
Fish Quesadillas have become popular in America in recent years too, but of course the majority of restaurants that only care about high volume sales and not quality have taken a fast food approach to this item too. Frozen batter coated fish is deep fried then cut up and placed on a large flour tortilla with cheese and folded in half. The Fish Quesadillas are then partially cooked before they are chilled, so they are easier to handle when in a hurry. The cold pre-made Fish Quesadillas are reheated on a flat top griddle till lightly browned and served. The problem with this high volume fast food method is that the tortilla gets soggy and the Fish Quesadilla tastes stale. Fish Quesadillas that are prepared way ahead of time look like a joke when compared to a good Fish Quesadilla that is prepared the right way with traditional ingredients.
The key to making Cal-Mex or Tex-Mex food is the freshness of the ingredients and incorporating traditional Mexican cuisine cooking methods. A Quesadilla is a Mexican style grilled cheese sandwich that is made with a flour tortilla. The object is to grill the tortilla till it is golden brown and the cheese melts. It takes butter, lard or oil to accomplish this, just like when making a traditional grilled cheese sandwich. Pan seared fish is traditional and a Quesadilla made with pan seared fish looks and tastes much better than a Quesadilla that is made with a fast food style frozen battered fish product. A Fish Quesadilla that is made to order is far better than one that was assembled way ahead of time.
If soggy limp fast food style Fish Quesadillas are the only choice at restaurants in your area, then the best choice is to make some great Fish Quesadillas in the home kitchen. Fish Quesadillas require very little preparation time and they are a tasty healthy munch, especially when served with salsa or guacamole!
This recipe yields about 3 cups.
Step 1: Soak 1 cup of dried red beans in a container of water overnight in a refrigerator.
Drain the water off of the beans and rinse the beans.
Step 2: Place the soaked red beans in a sauce pot.
Cover the beans with an extra 3" of water.
Place the pot over medium high heat.
Boil for 17 minutes.
Step 3: Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Cover the pot with a lid.
Gently simmer till the beans are soft and tender. (Add water if necessary.)
Step 4: Remove the pot from the heat.
Place the beans in a strainer.
Rinse the starch liquid off of the beans under cold running water.
Step 5: Place the cooked red beans in a sauce pot.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil (or roasted lard).
Add enough water to barely cover the beans.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of Guajillo Chile Powder.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of Ancho Chile Powder.
Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.
Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Step 6: Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
Simmer till the beans are hot the flavors meld.
Keep the Chili Beans warm over very low heat.
This recipe yields about 1 cup. (3 or 4 garnish portions)
Step 1: Place 1/2 cup of diced tomato into a mixing bowl.
Add 3 tablespoons of diced onion.
Add 2 tablespoons of diced mixed red and green bell pepper.
Add 2 tablespoons of thin sliced green onion.
Add 1 tablespoon of minced seeded green jalapeño pepper.
Step 2: Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of lime juice.
Add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
Add 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro.
Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Step 3: Stir the ingredients together.
Place the salsa in a container.
Chill in as refrigerator for 30 minutes, so the flavors meld.
*Drain off the excess liquid before using as a garnish.
This recipe yields 1 large quesadilla.
If you are new to making quesadillas, just think of a quesadilla as being a Mexican style grilled cheese sandwich!
Step 1: Select 2 small tilapia filets that weigh about 3 to 4 ounces apiece.
Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
Sprinkle 1 pinch of cumin over the tilapia.
Sprinkle 1 pinch of coriander over the tilapia.
Gently rub the spices onto the tilapia filets.
Step 2: Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of blended olive oil.
Add the seasoned tilapia filets.
Sauté the tilapia filets till they are seared on both sides and fully cooked.
Step 3: Remove the pan from the heat.
Set the seared tilapia filets on a cutting board and cut them into large bite size pieces.
Step 4: Place a 10" flour tortilla on a countertop.
Sprinkle a thin layer of grated cheddar cheese on one half tortilla. (About 1/3 cup.)
Place the seared tilapia pieces on the cheese.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of chopped roasted chile poblano over the fish.
Sprinkle a thin layer of cheddar cheese on top of the fish and chile peppers. (About 1/3 cup.)
Fold the plain half of the tortilla over quesadilla ingredients. (The quesadilla should look like a half moon shape.)
Step 5: Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
Spread about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (or lard) on the hot griddle.
Place the quesadilla on the oiled griddle.
Grill each side of the quesadilla till it is crispy golden brown and the cheese melts.
Tilapia Quesadilla with Tomato Salsa and Chili Beans:
This recipe yields 1 entrée.
Step 1: Use a large spatula to place the Tilapia Quesadilla on a cutting board.
Cut the quesadilla into 3 or 4 pie shaped pieces.
Step 2: Overlap the Tilapia Quesadilla slices on the front half of a plate.
Place a portion of the Chile Beans on the back half of the plate.
Spoon a generous portion of the Tomato Salsa over the center of the Tilapia Quesadilla. (About 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup.)
Garnish with a lime slice curl.
Tilapia Quesadillas with Tomato Salsa is a nice healthy light meal!