It’s hardly believable the holidays are up on us and that Christmas is only 24 days away. The weather is not suggestive of a festive season. At least not here on the East coast. It’s 70F today in DC — a stellar Spring day — and no signs of brisk temperatures until much later in the week. But while it’s here, we might as well enjoy it. I have a feeling we’ll be hit with a winter vortex the way we suffered last year. And while we want to pull out the works for a bit of winter-soothing food… you know… soups, caldos, potajes, stews, chilis, briskets and such, there’s a bit of an opportunity to enjoy lighter foods we’d not necessarily opt for otherwise. I’m thinking fish tacos are the perfect go-to meal when you want to spend little time in the kitchen — so you can enjoy the unexpected sun — but still want to enjoy flavor and substance.
Fish tacos aren’t the most complicated thing to make — we know this — but if you want to step outside the box and create something different, look no further than your own pantry. The idea of salmon tacos came to mind while making to-go plates for our friends who spent Thanksgiving with us. We had an abundance of leftovers and two whole filets of salmon, none of which were touched. Oh, we forgot it was in the oven! And so instead of giving it away, I thought of all the plates I could make with a perfectly seasoned amount of fish. It’s like the process turkey goes through for a few days after we break bread. But this made much more sense. I mean turkey tacos just doesn’t sound so appetizing!
These were the simplest thing I could have come up with on a “Spring” day. However, as simple as tacos can be, the chopping, mincing, shredding, etc… can be a bit cumbersome, especially if you like to mound toppings. Of course, the kind of fish you use will dictate what extras you use, but you’re still in for some knife work if you want to create really pretty and colorful tacos.
This is where the fun comes in. My friends at New West Knife Works — it’s going on 6 years now! — liked the idea of all the holiday dishes I’ve got lined up and wanted to make sure I had some great knives to work with. I first started using their knives back in 2008 and instantly fell in love. You can read here, here, and here and you’ll see what I mean! Their design and production is superior and in fact makes my work much easier, not to mention sexy. Every time I use my original 8″ chefs or superbread, I get more compliments than my shoes! If you know me personally, you know that’s a big statement but it’s so true! Aside from the wonderful handling and balance ratio between the blade and gorgeous exotic wood handle, the precision in which each knife cuts food is impressive. Nothing like dull knives that don’t perform.
Though fish tacos are mostly a rustic, Mexican-American dish, it’s nice to have well-cut vegetables, particularly since we’re using small bits. I used my old chefs for the cabbage — in part because it’s been my default knife for years — and my new 9″ which is slicker and significantly lighter than the old batch for the rest of the ingredients. The cherry tomatoes benefited the most. Those little things can easily rip apart depending on ripeness but the super sharp blade and tip allowed me to cut perfect little halves and smaller bits with the paring knife.
This is only third time using the new set and I’m in more like than before! If they had a trade-in program, I’d be the first to send mine to get an additional chefs for my old one! It’s a great thing when brands take the time to evolve and improve their product. From Japanese-made to all American-made, my Jackson Hole, WY-based knife experts bring good chops to the board!
And let’s be honest. Those handles are everything. I won’t lie. I love showing off my knives. They’re a great conversation piece. But ultimately, it’s their performance that gets the love.
All their individual knives will work well on their own and yield superior results, but if you’re into cooking daily, the block with a complete set of 7 knives is the way you want to go. From chefs to pairing — with the option of customizing your block — covers every cutting need you’ll have.
My seasoned salmon made a fantastic base for the tacos, and even that got skinned with my new 9″, but the secret was in the sauce. It’s always in the sauce. I’m not a mayo fan, even when I make it from scratch, so I opted for a different approach. A coconut milk dressing for the slaw was perfect. My inspiration for the coconut milk was the surprisingly among of coconut I enjoyed in Europe these past three weeks. I found fresh coconut cubes at the march in Paris and later in some decadent chocolate candies in Spain. And in my house, coconut flan took over the day after Thanksgiving with a handful of toasted coconut flan orders. And so a coconut milk dressing it was. It was creamy but light, rounded flavor but simple, and a perfect tang to the bold fish.
My family lives in the kitchen. It’s what we do. We do everything in the kitchen. The holidays are the most stressful time for us since everyone wants to make something special; wants to perfect a new recipe they’ve been working on; or just want to help out. But that’s not always so practical. Easy dishes like this, the ones done in less than 20 minutes are wonderful for quick fixes and healthy eating. Because yes, the real good, good stuff is coming on New Year’s Eve — Noche Buena — the night where all the bells and whistles come out for dinner. I’m sure my mother will oh-so conveniently stumble upon my knives.
For now, some delicious tacos!
Check out New West’s website and Facebook for more information on their knives. If you’re a professional chef or avid home cook, they’re worth every bit of penny you’ll spend. And, and, and! They’re giving away a 7-piece set similar to mine above, just in time for Christmas! Sign up to their newsletter and enter to win! You want these in your life. Their craftsmanship is superior and all knives come with a lifetime warranty. You want that in knives.
* I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions and experiences, weather sponsored or not are true and authentic! I only write about things I genuinely love and think you should know about!
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.
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Salmon Tacos with Spicy Coconut Milk Slaw
- 12 oz salmon
- 3 cups cabbage, shredded
- 1 cup coconut milk
- juice from 1/2 lime
- 2 tsp. coriander
- 1.5 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 cup red onion, minced
- 5 cherry tomatoes, minced
- 1 small yellow pepper, minced
Preheat oven to 400F. Season salmon with salt, pepper, oregano and lemon. Let marinade for one hour. Transfer to aluminum foil. Baste with olive oil. Cover and place on baking sheet. Bake on 350F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Let cool.
Make slaw. In large bowl, mix coconut milk and all spices. Whisk until all ingredients are well-blended. Toss in cabbage. Salt to taste if desired.
Warm tortillas in 8″ skillet until you see a few brown spots starting to form, approximately one minute. Assemble tacos. Add 2 oz of salmon to each tortilla. Add cabbage with slaw juice. Top with vegetables and cilantro. Add an additional spoonful of slaw juice if desired.
* Chef’s notes: Tacos are best if made the day after salmon is made. Heat olive oil in skillet. Warm salmon for 3-4 minutes on medium high heat and covered to maintain moisture. For heightened flavor, refrigerate slaw for a day before making tacos.