Taco Tips: Oysters and Avocados

from Upper Crust EnterprisesToday, our Japanese Panko Bread Crumbs are sold throughout the entire United States, Canada, Mexico, Barbados, Belize, Italy, Israel, Australia, Panama, Ecuador, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Guam and Saipan. We supply various restaurant chains in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
…There are 40 major types of cuisines throughout the world. Did you know that Upper Crust products can be used in most of them?

Check the tab on that site called “Recipe Ideas” for info about breading, stuffing, extender/enhancer/ desert toppings, tempura, and Japanese deep-fried recipes.

My version of panko crusted chicken was so good that I thought of panko enveloped fish and oysters would be perfect in a taco.

These small sweet red, yellow, and orange peppers are a sweet, juicy-crisp, addition to a plate of vegetables and dip; they add beautiful color to a salad and taste better than out-of-season tomatoes.
I featured a recipe for a Japanese version of stuffed peppers as a light meal or appetizer. You can broil the peppers as a care-free way to prepare them. They are especially colorful when arranged pepper-side up.
For my oyster/fish tacos I used these peppers, sliced and lightly stir-fried, instead of tomatoes.

A most memorable “meals” was a couple of cans of smoked oysters, a few cello-wrapped saltines, and warm soda, shared with my daughter, husband, and his sister on a beach in the wilderness of Washington state in 1990. Oysters are an extravagance—it’s been a long time since I made the wonderful Japanese-oyster-chowder!
Considering how delicious oysters are, I’m beginning to think that they are an affordable indulgence. Two eight ounce jars (plenty for us two!) of fresh shucked oysters can be had for about $10: transported to a beach by way of the sweet fresh smell of the sea.

Avocados are a sumptuous addition to fish tacos, providing a smooth foil to the crisp fried fish.
In Vietnam, avocados are known as “butter fruit.”

The French introduced avocados to Vietnam, which explains why in Vietnamese, avocados are called trái bơ (pronounced “try buh”; trái means fruit, bơ is Viet pidgin for beurre).
from Viet World Kitchen

In the above link Ms. Andrea Nguyen describes her culture shock when first seeing avocados used in savory dishes: in much of Asia, avocados are used in sweet drinks and desserts. I must try her recipe for an avocado shake, Vietnamese style!
Avocados are native in central Mexico where Astecs called the fruit ahuácatl (testicle, a reference to the shape of the fruit). The Spanish conquistadors called it aguacate, which eventually became avocado in English. Sometimes it is called an alligator pear because of its shape and reptilian greenish skin.
Avocados at my grocery store are shipped from California, hard and green. Like pears, avocados do not ripen on the trees! Storing them in a brown paper bag allows them to ripen perfectly. If they’ve been on display for several days, one might find some ready to eat. Hold the fruit in your hand and gently close your palm. If it gives slightly, it is ready! Or lightly push the stem: if it pops off easily and is green below, you have your avocado. If the skin feels as if there are blisters or air bubbles beneath, then it’s over-ripe. Or rotten.

Tilapia fish have become very popular in the past decade. They are native in fresh water African lakes, but the fish we purchase in supermarkets are farmed; they are sometimes called “aquatic chicken.” Their bland, non-fishy flavor appeals a wide audience. The low cost also makes this fish popular with consumers.
There are cautions: Fish farming is not necessarily closely regulated in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The water where they are bred and grown many be polluted. Where the water is naturally warm enough, the fish can escape to create environmental devastation. Farmed tilapia don’t have much of omega3 unless their feed includes expensive fish meal, but the herbivorous tilapia grow decently with little or none.
Cilantro smelled like cat piss. And then my tastes matured and its complex scent and flavor is indispensable in dishes which need a little “sparking-up.”
All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most commonly used in cooking. It amazes me how different each part of the plant taste. Perhaps that is why the various parts have specific names?
I have always loved coriander (seed) flavored breads and cakes. Its flavor smooths and emphasizes cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom.
Chopped cilantro leaves are necessary in a good taco!
A taco is a tortilla (flatbread) made of ground corn or wheat wrapped around a filling. Wheat tortillas have become almost a staple in the U.S. where they are used as wraps for any sort of sandwich filling. Corn tortillas, lacking gluten, are fragile and prone to tearing but they have much more flavor. To prepare ready made tortillas, warm then one by one in a dry cast iron skillet, flipping once. To keep the tortillas warm, put a plate with a cloth napkin cover into a low temperature oven. Stack the tortillas as they are warmed, the most recent on top, then flip the stack and cover. This keeps them warm but prevents them from drying out.

I made a variation of pico de gallo with the stir-fried sliced sweet peppers, some onions, and dressed with a bit of lime juice. I sliced the avocado into eighths then peeled away the skin. I washed and dried the oysters and tilapia (cut into 2-inch pieces), then dipped them in cornstarch, followed by egg white, and finally panko. Pan-fry in an inch of hot oil and drain. For each taco, overlap two tortillas place fish or oyster lengthwise, top with avocado, cilantro and peppers. Enjoy.


6 thoughts on “Taco Tips: Oysters and Avocados

  1. Tess you are back! Hooray! Missed your kitchen!
    We are very excited here to be getting our first crop of avocados! We feel rich to have a tree full. I like that you say the Japanese call them butter fruit – how appropriate. When I was a student I had a job tidying and making lunch each day for an elderly gentleman. He loved tinned oysters and avocados and said to me once, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t use avocados instead of butter. Avocados were very expensive in those days – he was pretty well off – an innocent but such a dear one couldn’t feel cross that he didn’t know why.
    I can just picture your portable feast on the beach. Everything tastes better outdoors! Enjoy Summer!

  2. I know I shouldn’t contradict Tess, but avocados “ripening perfectly” in a paper bag might get a laugh from people fortunate enough to pick them off their local tree. I know the few times I have eaten them in the regions where they grow, the experience was intense. The story I bore Tess with includes my friend and I, about 19, hitchhiking on a dark country road in California, our pockets nearly as empty as our stomachs, a building across the road that appeared to have once been a store, and a young woman inside who apologized that she wasn’t really open until Wednesday and she had nothing but avocados, but we could have 4 for a dollar. Those might have been the perfect avocados!

  3. Hello Mr Tess – I hope you are having a good beginning to your Summer. Big excitement here yesterday because of the Transit of Venus. Did you see it clearly in MI?
    I didn’t laugh about the paper bag because that’s how we have to ripen them here – even from our own tree. Avocados shouldn’t really grow in Melbourne at all. In my childhood you could have grown a fair size tree in your garden but it never would have fruited. The altered climate of the last forty years now makes it possible – but at what cost? Oh dear…

    • I think people in Michigan were able to see the Transit of Venus, but I missed it, looking at the ground rather than to the heavens.

      I think that avocados are like pears which also don’t ripen on trees. Once they fall they begin to ripen. And they ripen very well. But Mr. Tess’s story is lovely.

      You are fortunate to have an avocado tree! In a future post I’ll tell about making a Vietnamese drink, slightly sweet and milky and very delicious…

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