Reinterpreting the taco

Published 11:55 am Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Locally sourced organic ingredients fill this Polk County Red Rainbow trout taco.

Locally sourced organic ingredients fill this Polk County Red Rainbow trout taco.

By Carol Lynn Jackson

Our love for tacos is growing stronger – and more creative — as wondrously different styles win our dining choice and devotion.

We find street trucks, taquerias and upscale restaurants serving righteous Mexican street tacos more than ever. There are those that tuck Asian fusion fillings into tortillas, from “the velvet chicken” to the “Thai juan on” and BBQ Korean. Between these are regionally inspired taco mains like North Carolina pulled pork and smoked rainbow trout with tweaked fillers such as apple stewed kale and chiffonade raw vitamin greens with arugula cilantro lime sauce. At least that’s what we came up with for a recent street event.

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Because of our local organic CSA program and roadside stand, we are, on a daily basis, looking for creative ways to add value to the raw staple crops that farmers bring in for our shareholders.  In the past, the go-to vehicle for “clean out the fridge” day was soup or off-the-beaten-path risottos. But the weather is warmer now. So we’ve picked out a new playground for the summer season and southern regional ingredients also work well on a tortilla.

Using 25 pounds of North Carolina red rainbow trout, caught fresh in Polk County, we received them gutted but not deboned. Oops! A trip to the hardware store for needle-nose pliers and several hours later, we had the bright beautiful meat laid out on baking sheets. We brushed the flesh with a coriander, salt and pepper clarified butter mixture. Baking at 350 for less than 10 minutes in a convection oven, and our taco main meat was ready. We made a pickled veggie slaw of carrots, watermelon radish, spring onion and jalapeno and pulsed it up in the food processor, adding huge squeezes of fresh lime, hints of honey and pomegranate-balsamic vinegar along the way. Asian greens cut into ribbons and massaged with EVOO and sea salt topped the meat and a fun avocado arugula and cilantro cream sauce drizzled across for the finish.

You don’t have to stick to the Mexican culinary traditions to have taco night at the house. You don’t even have to use meat proteins to make it legit. Mushrooms, cheeses, legumes, and loads of sautéed veggies with fresh avocado can be as meaty as it gets. Next time it’s taco night, think about nudging yourself out of your zone.