We love the tastes of Mexico and have enjoyed a variety of special dishes throughout our many trips to the country. One of the things that we enjoy about Mexican dishes are the various spices and peppers that they use in them. This dish has spice, but it isn’t at all spicy. Achiote is made from a hard seed that is ground up and provides a deep red color to whatever it is prepared with. We made a simple paste from the Achiote, which comes as a thick block with the consistency of clay. Using fresh lime juice brightens up the dish and makes it even more savory. We chose to marinate salmon, but it would work well with any other firm fish and even pork or chicken. It is definitely a simple meal to prepare.
2 Salmon Filets – about 6 ounces each
1/6 cup Fresh Lime Juice
1/3 of a 3 1/2 ounce package of Achiote
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
Combine the lime juice and the achiote paste in a food processor and mix it until it creates a smooth paste. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the paste onto both sides of the salmon, making sure to coat it evenly using the back of a spoon. Let the fish marinade for about 15 to 20 minutes. Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Place the salmon in the pan, skin side down, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes until the skin gets crispy. Flip the fish and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the salmon is cooked through. Serve with your favorite side dish.
When we’re traveling, we love eating at restaurants that use a lot of fresh herbs with an abundance of taste. People don’t often use fresh herbs as much as they should at home, but we try to as often as possible. We grow several different herbs and enjoy using them in many of the recipes that we prepare. One of the herbs that we have been growing is Mexican tarragon and we wanted to find a way to incorporate that into one of our meals. We decided to make a cream sauce and have it with some breaded tilapia. It was a very light and refreshing dish.
3 Tilapia Filets
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1 Large Egg – whisked
1 tbsp Whole Milk
1 tbsp Garlic Powder
1 clove Fresh Garlic – minced
2 to 3 sprigs of Fresh Tarragon
Juice of 1 Lemon
3 tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/2 pint Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Strip the tarragon off of the stems and chop the leaves. Combine the cream, butter, lemon juice, chicken stock, minced garlic, salt and pepper, and 2 sprigs of chopped tarragon in a small sauce pan and heat just to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low. Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens. Create a dredging station with three shallow bowls. Put the flour on the first bowl, whisk the egg and milk together on the second bowl, and mix the panko with one of the sprigs of tarragon, the garlic powder, and salt and pepper in the third bowl. Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet to medium-high heat. Dredge the tilapia through the dredging station, coating with flour first, then the egg wash, and finally coating them with bread crumbs. Sauté the fish in the skillet until the breading browns and the fish is fully cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve with the cream sauce and your favorite side dishes.
Corn is a popular side dish wherever you go because it is so versatile and can be sweet or made to be savory. It is often boiled or grilled on the cob, but we chose to remove the kernels and sauté them with jalapeno and orange bell pepper. We seeded the jalapeno pepper and still found it to have plenty of heat, but if you really want more heat, you can certainly leave the seeds in. Sprinkling with cotija cheese adds a nice flavor to the dish, but you can leave it out or use parmesan or feta cheese if you can’t find cotija cheese. It is a great side dish to have with steak, pork, or fish. It could also be altered to become an actual entrée if you would prefer. For cutting the corn kernels off of the cob, we used a bunt pan to catch the kernels as they came off of the cob. It is a handy trick that works really well. We found it to be extremely delicious.
4 Corn Cobs – cleaned and kernels removed
1 Orange Bell Pepper – seeded and diced
2 Jalapeno Peppers – seeded and diced
1/2 cup Cotija Cheese – crumbled by hand
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large, cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat. Add the corn, orange pepper, and jalapeno peppers to the skillet and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are soft and the corn is fully cooked and starting to brown. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with small crumbles of cotija cheese.