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How I Became Obsessed With Mexican Food (+ recipe)

How I Became Obsessed With Mexican Food (+ recipe)

My best childhood memories include big family BBQs at my grandparents’ house, jumping off the diving board anywhere my mom would let me, riding bikes with my brother Dana, and of course Mexico.

My grandfather’s parents were Mexican immigrants. He grew up in Texas in a bilingual home, then ultimately enlisted in the Army where he served in WWII and became a featherweight boxing champion. He was so good at boxing in fact, that he was ultimately recruited to join the Marine Corps as well.

After his service he met my blue-eyed, red-headed grandmother in LA. Together they were a spitting image of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo.

After getting married they opened a German sandwich shop and hofbrau in LA. Grandpa was the chef and I don’t know why he chose German food, but my guess is that he was trying desperately to assimilate into the country he loved so he and his family would not be stigmatized by his immigrant heritage. Spanish was never spoken in the home my mother grew up in.

By the time I came into the picture though we ate Mexican food a lot. Even though my mother was the one with Mexican heritage, my father was a self-proclaimed Mexiphile and it was a rare day that our home wasn’t stocked with homemade salsa and guacamole (pronounced wah-cah-moe-lay, please). Chips were optional.

We also traveled to Mexico frequently, most often making road trips to Baja where we would revel in fish tacos, ceviche and homemade tortillas that bring a tear to the eye. And once I was older of course, tequila y cerveza.

Fortunately, even while we were home in Southern California the large Mexican immigrant population made finding our favorite flavors easy (if you live near Orange in OC go to Tacos Jalisco, you can thank me later). To this day one of the hardest things about living in NYC for me is the sad Mexican food scene.

My grandfather was an amazing human. He had an infectious laugh, loved his CA Angels even though they were terrible his entire life, and had a mean golf swing up into his 80s when cancer finally took his life.

This country, and certainly my own life, is far better off when we welcome people like my grandfather and his hard working parents. It is also far more delicious.

This article is part of the #ImmigrationIsTasty campaign that is celebrating immigrant food stories this week. As food bloggers, we have a deep appreciation for how much the diversity of the US melting pot improves our lives and our kitchens. Huge thanks to rockstar chef Sarah Burchard for creating the recipe below.

By Sarah Burchard

Ingredients
  • TACOS (makes 6)
  • 1 pound snapper or cod fillets, skin and bones removed
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Non-stick cooking spray (canola or coconut oil)
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • lime wedges
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • SLAW
  • 1 cup (about ½ each) jicama, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup mango, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from a ¼ orange
  • Juice from ½ a lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • SALSA
  • 1 cup (about ½ each) jicama, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup mango, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from a ¼ orange
  • Juice from ½ a lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preparation

In a small bowl mix together slaw ingredients. Set aside.

In a separate small bowl mix together the salsa ingredients and set aside.

Set your oven to broil. 

Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

Season the fish on both sides with the ancho chile powder, salt and pepper. Place on the prepared sheet pan and lightly spray the top of the filets with oil.

Place fish under the broiler for 10 minutes.

While the fish is cooking wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil. Place them in the oven on the rack under the fish to warm through.

Remove the fish from the oven and flake it apart with a fork into bite-sized pieces.

Remove the tortillas from the oven, fill each one with fish, slaw and salsa. Serve lime wedges and hot sauce on the side.

Sarah Burchard, a.k.a. “The Healthy Locavore” is a natural foods chef, certified health coach and writer. Her offerings center around locally grown and made food, holistic health and supporting her community.

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