Light and bright
It might not be traditional, but a salsa made with cherries and radishes adds a unique twist to a fish taco. The addition of jalapeno and onion keep it familiar and offer balance and heat. You can also use apricots or peaches.

Light and bright

The first time I ate a fish taco, I was sold; they are now my taco of choice

BELLOWS FALLS — Cherry salsa?

Why not? We often serve fish tacos with the popular mango salsa, and when I was thinking about making this dish recently, I knew I needed to come up with an alternate fruit because of an allergy –– my own!

Cherries are in season, so they fit the bill. The farmstands and farmers' markets are loaded with beautiful, spicy radishes as well, so this merger seemed perfect.

The tacos have the whole family's seal of approval, with the teenagers and their friends gobbling up the most!

* * *

Tacos have come a long way. When I was a teenager, my mother made our first tacos: hard shell, ground beef seasoned with a packet of mystery spices, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and jarred salsa. There was no heat, there was no variation, they were messy to eat, and we loved them!

My own kids loved them, too, when I made them pretty much the same way but used seasoned refried beans rather than ground meat.

You can still find the hard-shell taco kits in any market, but the variety of fresh, soft tortillas available has exploded over the years. The tortilla I found for this recipe was whole wheat and high fiber, but there are many types readily available as well, including flavorful blue corn.

The first time I ate a fish taco, I was sold; they are now my taco of choice. Light and bright, they taste like a leisurely afternoon by the shore.

Usually, the fish in this dish is fried, but it's summer and we love to grill, especially when we have a gathering such as the Fourth of July. The smoke flavor is a bonus, as long as we don't lose the fish through the grates.

Firm-fleshed fish work best here, including monkfish, halibut, salmon, pollock, tuna, or tilapia, so use what is freshest at the market on cook day, and select something on the thick side, at least an inch. Monkfish is great in this recipe, and it is in season, as is wild Alaskan salmon.

You can use more tender fish such as cod or haddock, but you will need to cook it on a plank or mat, or in one of those hinged baskets for extra insurance you don't lose them to the coals. Of course, you can also use shrimp or scallops!

This recipe includes four parts: the grilled fish and vegetables, the slaw, the salsa, and the crema. The grilled vegetables not only serve to enhance the fish tacos, but offer a vegetarian alternative for any guests who don't eat fish or have an allergy.

Don't be daunted by the list of ingredients; it is fairly quick to put together. Pitting the cherries is probably the most time-consuming part of the process, but you get to snack on a few while you are prepping them.

You can make all the components ahead of time and refrigerate them until you are ready to grill. The salsa is enhanced by a long rest, even if it only a day, so the flavors have time to mingle.

If it is raining, you can use a grill pan on your stove, or broil everything to save time, cooking the firm vegetables first because they take longer than the mushrooms or fish.

The Japanese mayonnaise is certainly not traditional in a crema, but I had picked some up at the co-op and thought I'd try it out in this recipe. I loved the combination of the yuzu citrus flavor with the lime, but you can substitute regular mayonnaise and add some lemon zest in addition to the lime, or use just lime.

Adjust the heat according to what you like, or leave it out. If you don't have hot paprika, substitute sweet and add a pinch of cayenne.

And if you are allergic to cherries, please substitute a mango!

Grilled Fish Tacos

In a small bowl combine:

¶1 Tbsp. chili powder

¶1 Tbsp. ground cumin

¶1 tsp. garlic powder

¶1 tsp. onion powder

¶1 tsp. hot paprika

¶Salt and pepper

Mix everything and rub into all sides of:

¶1 lb. monkfish or other firm-fleshed fish

¶2 sweet peppers, seeded and cut in quarters

¶1 onion, sliced in thick rings

¶8 ounces large mushrooms, large slice

Let the fish and vegetables hang out for 20 minutes or so while your charcoal works or your grill heats up to 350 degrees. If using charcoal, place the coals on one side of the grill to have hot and cooler sides.

Clean and oil the grates well. Don't skip this step!

While the grill is heating, you will want to start warming your tortillas. Take a large piece of foil lined with parchment paper and wrap:

¶10-12 whole-wheat or corn tortillas, 6 inches

Place this packet on the warming shelf of the grill. If using a charcoal grill, wait until your fish is almost cooked before you place them on the cool side of the grate to gently warm.

If using a nice firm fish, place it directly on the well-oiled, cooler side of the grate. If your fish is a little more tender, or if you have had a bad experience in the past, place it on a plank, grill mat, or pan, or in a protective fish cage.

Add the vegetables to the hotter side.

Close the lid and cook for about 7 minutes. Turn, and cook for just a few more minutes, but keep an eye on it; you don't want it to overcook it, and you don't want the vegetables to burn.

If your fish is thinner than 1 inch, check it at 5 minutes. When done, cut it into small strips or chunks, and cut the vegetables into strips.

To assemble, place a little of the crunchy slaw in the bottom of the warmed tortilla, then add some of the fish, and whatever vegetables you like. Top with the cherry and radish salsa, and drizzle with the yuzu crema.

This will make 10-12 tacos depending on how much you stuff in!

Simple Slaw


¶3 cups shredded cabbage, nappa or regular

¶{1/2} cup diced purple onion

¶1 Tbsp. honey

¶1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

Taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Fresh Cherry and Radish Salsa


¶{1/4} lb. fresh pitted cherries

¶1 jalapeño or Serrano pepper, minced

¶{1/3} cup minced purple onion

¶4 large radishes, minced

¶{1/3} cup minced parsley

¶Zest of 1 lime

¶1 Tbsp. lime juice

Taste, and season with salt and pepper as you like.

Yuzu and Lime Crema

Mix together:

1/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup Japanese yuzu mayonnaise

Zest of one lime

1 tbsp. lime juice

Taste, and season with salt and pepper as you like.

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