Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Bringing a taste of Mexico home

Cathi Litzenberger returns from Ixtapa inspired by the food and introduces a couple of new dishes in today's column.

I arrived home from Ixtapa, Mexico yesterday after a wonderful week with my sister at a first-rate all-inclusive resort.

There is nothing better than an all-inclusive for giving a woman time to read, relax, swim, suntan, eat and drink and do whatever we like without having to lift a finger. The food was delicious and the drink plentiful and available all the time. What can I say, except we all deserve such pampering.

Today’s recipes reflect a couple of my favourite dishes while away. The first is an easy fish taco that El Paso mixes make easy and fast to prepare. The second is a tasty skillet lemon fish dish with mushrooms. Give it a try.

Easy Mexican

Fish Tacos

White fish fillets, such as tilapia or catfish

2  tbsp.  Old El Paso taco seasoning mix (from 1 ounce package)

1  tbsp. olive oil or butter

1  box  (4.6 ounces) Old El Paso taco shells

1  container  (6 oz.) fat-free plain yogurt

1/2  to 1 tsp. grated lime peel

1  tsp.  lime juice

1  tsp. sugar

1/4  tsp.  salt

4  cups  coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots), from 16 ounce bag

2  tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

1  small  jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped

1  medium  tomato, seeded, diced

Sprinkle both sides of fish fillets with taco seasoning mix. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet until hot. Cook fish in oil 6 to 8 minutes over medium heat, turning once, until fish flakes easily with fork. Cut into bite-size chunks.  Meanwhile, heat taco shells as directed on box.

In large bowl, mix yogurt, lime peel, lime juice, sugar and salt. Stir in coleslaw mix, cilantro, and jalapeno. Let stand 5 minutes.

Spoon slightly less than 1/4 cup fish chunks and 1/4 cup coleslaw mixture into each taco shell; top each with about 1 tablespoon tomato.

Tips: When chopping the jalapeno chili, wear gloves to prevent skin irritation from the oils. You can omit the jalapeno if you have kids that don’t want their tacos so spicy.

Mexican Fish Fillets

with Mushroom-Lemon Sauce

½ lb fresh mushrooms, sliced

4 -6 green onions, chopped

¼ cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped (half the amount if using dried)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated

Juice of 1 lemon

1⁄8 teaspoon pepper

24 ounces fish fillets (6 4-oz fillets of tilapia, snapper, grouper, orange roughy)

Sauté mushrooms and green onions in butter in a large skillet until the vegetables are tender. Add flour, stirring well. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in the milk. Add parsley, salt, grated lemon rind, juice and pepper. Bring to a boil.

Arrange the fish fillets in a single layer over the sauce in the skillet (if thin enough, roll the fillets); carefully spoon sauce over fillets.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 to 15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork (depends on the thickness of your fillets). Serve the fish topped with the sauce.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist.