tacos 

Dinner in my family is always a matter of what, where and when—and it seems it’s always being asked. Earlier this month when my folks visited me in Los Angeles, that was the only question that really mattered. Never mind the stars, the mountains or the Hollywood Bowl; we had to get down to the essentials: Food. When dealing with a pair of 65-year olds from the ‘burbs, a young boyfriend from the city and a small group of friends who range from vegan to blood-thirsty, all looking to sit down at the same dinner table for a meal together, a hostess’ head can really start to spin. Luckily for me, I’m in Los Angeles, home to the one great food everyone loves: Tacos.

Yes, every “good American” may love burgers, and every vegetarian loves pasta, and most everyone loves pizza (though getting on into our 30s, our ever-plump and tired bodies can’t eat it more than a couple times a month), but the taco, yes, the beloved taco—this food pleases everyone. There’s the soft shell, a sweet and gritty corn tortilla or that crunchy, teeth-cracking hard shell to house your fillings. And inside, anything from spicy grilled beef and macerated herbs to fall-apart, succulent white fish with citrus hues or perhaps a pile of simply seared vegetables. And topped with creamy avocados, cleansing cabbage and fiery salsa, it’s really a thing of glory. The taco just seems to please all.

To satisfy the beef-lovers, the pescatarians and the veggies all in the same meal, I prepare homemade tacos. The entire recipe is exactly the same for all, save the single meat filling, which can easily be subbed in with any of your choice. Use the same marinade here whether you choose pork, beef, fish, tofu, tempeh or good ol’ seasonal veggies. For the magic isn’t in the meat, it’s in the marinades, the rubs, the yielding tacos that mold around your warm fillings, the crunchy toppings that hit the melting sauces in your mouth… you get the picture. Tacos it is.

Homemade Fish (or Meat, or Vegetarian) Tacos with All the Fixins’

Ingredients:

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup red wine vinegar

½ cup rum

¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon minced jalapeno

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 pound white fish, meat, or vegetarian substitute of choice (try

8 corn tortillas

Avocado slices

Shredded cabbage

Sour cream mixed with lime juice, to taste

Salsa, to taste

Lime wedges

Directions:

  1. Combine onion, vinegar and rum in a medium bowl to cover; refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.
  2. Whisk together cilantro, oil, lime juice, chili, oregano, cumin, jalapeno and salt in a deep baking dish; add ‘meat’ of choice. Turn to coat, cover, and allow to marinate 30 minutes.
  3. Cook marinated meat (or vegetarian substitute) in a lightly oiled skillet on the stovetop or on the grill, until lightly browned and just cooked through. Remove from heat when cooked.
  4. To assemble the tacos: Heat tortillas over a low open flame until warmed and softened. Place a small mound of cooked ‘meat’ inside; top with onions, avocados, cabbage, sour cream and salsa. Serve with lemon wedges.

Image: kimberlykv