Tender white cod gets a coconut crust before being tucked inside a tortilla with a creamy cabbage slaw and a buttery avocado in this fish taco recipe.
“What’s this?” I finger the handles on a large paper bag that my son has tied to his backpack strap as he comes through the door from school.
“We had Celebration of Learning this morning. I told you last night.” My heart sinks.
“I wasn’t home last night. I was cleaning up the book fair.” Alone, I think, with one volunteer who wasn’t even scheduled. That’s who showed up.
“I told Dad.”
“I’m sorry, sweetie. Even if I would have remembered, your brother was sick. Do you want to show me now?” His brown eyes look sad, his voice quiet. My heart breaks as I drop all the balls. I’m sitting at my desk trying desperately to get work done, to catch up after volunteering at school for the first half of the week. My youngest is pale and sleeping on the couch. Lene is shedding her school clothes for her soccer uniform, and I am reminded that I don’t know what time Kjell’s baseball game is at tonight. The financial forms for the book fair sit on my desk. Registration for summer swimming is half filled out alongside it, waiting. My deadline pulses in my head. I haven’t yet showered, though I sit in jeans and a tank top after getting dressed for a day I’m still frantically trying to conquer.
We sit on the couch. “This is my book of poems,” he tells me, opening the page to the dedication he’s written out to me. I’ve noticed lately that he likes to use the word “kindhearted” in his writing, using it to describe friends, his mom, and himself. I turn off the alarms in my head and let him show me.
“You’re sure you’re okay,” I ask later, thinking back to when I was just on time for his concert—not early—and caught him wiping tears on the back of his hand as he waited for me to walk through the door.
“Just disappointed.” A line out of my own playbook, delivered in a resigned voice by my eldest son. I pull him close and kiss the top of his precious head on his moppy hair.
Busy. I loathe the implications that “busy” brings forth. Yet, I’ve been busy.
I am a thinker, preferring to take walks around the lake as I organize my thoughts and determine my true opinions after holding them close and evaluating them. I like to spend a good deal of time reflecting in the silence and stillness of a perfectly glass surface on an untouched lake.
I work best when left alone, but with enough interruptions that I stay on task, for I could get lost in an imaginary world that I create in my head. I enjoy watching my kids dart across the yard, squealing and yelping at the top of their lungs without feeling as though I have somewhere else to be, other things to do. I like lamp-lit bedtime stories on the couch, all curled up under the blanket as the spring sun vanishes on the horizon. I want to bury myself in moments.
But busy ruins them all. Rather than recharged and renewed, I feel drained and depleted. I feel lost.
And then there’s dinner.
As much as I prefer to recharge in silence and reflection, my husband prefers meals to be long and languid, best served with music. Somewhere, somehow in the hectic crazy of life, we try to carve out time to prioritize these little bits that make us who we are.
Snacks are followed by sports which are followed by coming back together in the kitchen. Ole and I stand over the chest freezer, staring down into the white, butcher-wrapped packages before pulling out the clear wrapped fish, both of us nodding along with the other.
Ole heads to get tequila from the cabinet, as I start pulling ingredients from the refrigerator. The bench is pulled up to the counter for the kids to reach, and soon dinner is underway, six cooks in the kitchen.
No time to thaw, the fish is chunked with a chef’s knife into pieces meant to fit each shell. An avocado is chosen, the one with just a slight bit of give, and purple cabbage is shredded as small hands pluck cilantro from its stem. Coconut comes out of the freezer, a bottle of sweet hot sauce is set out on the dining room table.
These tacos make use of natural sweetness to tame the heat, a bit of chili powder and cayenne in the coconut flour breading play off each other nicely. Tender white fish becomes the base, the nutty coconut toasting in the pan on the stove. A fresh crunch from the slaw and richness from the creamy avocado meld together in the confines of the soft, warmed tortillas.
Finally, we find ourselves seated at our dinner table. Six of us, music on, busy be damned.
“Is this jazz?”
“Good guess, Lene. It’s actually a jazz-influenced rock/pop band from the ’70s and ’80s-”
Ole starts before being interrupted by the eldest who asks incredulously, “What has happened to my family? Where have they gone?” Knowing she’s balking at the music selection for the evening, I can’t help but answer with a few of my favorite lyrics.
“What has happened? What has happened? What has happened to the one that I love?”
I follow my bite of life with a bite of my taco.
Coconut Crusted Cod Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw
- For the coconut cod:
- 1-2 pounds frozen cod
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, heated until liquid
- For the slaw:
- ½ red cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
- ¼ cup packed cilantro leaves
- 4 green onions, diced
- ¾ cup Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- For assembly:
- 10 warmed corn or flour tortillas
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- Mango Habanero Hot Sauce
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with foil.
- Cut the cod into 1×3″ pieces and set aside. In a shallow dish, mix together the eggs and lime juice. In another shallow dish, stir together the coconut flour, coconut, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt., and cayenne.
- Dredge each piece of fish through the egg wash and then through the coconut flour, tapping off any excess. Place on the baking sheet and drizzle lightly with the coconut oil.
- Bake for 7 minutes. Flip and bake for 4 additional minutes. Turn on the broiler and brown the fish for 1 minute or so, just until crisp. Remove from the oven.
- While the fish is baking, prepare the coleslaw. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, cilantro, and green onions. In a separate bowl, mix together the yogurt, lime juice, agave, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Stir until combined. Toss the cabbage mix with the dressing.
- Once the fish is cooked, add fish, slaw, avocado slices, and hot sauce to each tortilla. Serve and eat immediately.
Alaska Seafood’s Cook it Frozen Frozen to Fork ebook is free and full of wonderful ways to cook wild Alaskan seafood straight out of the freezer. It’s the solution for the less than ideal days when you’re dealing with busy. My favorite bit of it is the tips section at the front of the book that gives some hints on cooking from frozen. As someone who often forgets or fails to take meat out of the freezer for dinner, knowing how to get from freezer to table quickly is an important skill to have tucked away.
This post is not sponsored by Wild Alaska Seafood. They do occasionally send me fish, though, and I enjoy the sustainable aspect of eating wild fish responsibly. I also eat the fish.