Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pink Chicken

My sister Kimbo is a great mom. Her oldest daughter is 2 years older than my son, which makes her parenting advice uncannily accurate. If Kimbo didn't live half a country away, I would be over at her house every day for coffee. She is that good.

'Pink Chicken' was Kimbo's brain child. You see, like many, her kids balked at eating fish. You have to admit, it is a hard sell. It has a strange texture, can be strong tasting... it is not really a meat, nor is it pasta. Her kids, however, did love chicken and being self-respecting girls, loved pink. So, the next time that Kimbo served Salmon she called it 'Pink Chicken.' Some call this lying. I say skilled culinary survival tactics. She should have gotten a Congressional medal.

If you are a Mom, you know how this goes. Sometimes the barrier to entry on a new food (especially one that resembles a family pet) is overwhelming. You know they should be eating it, you know it is well prepared. But still, the name alone can be a lot to overcome. Cue the whole two-bites thing, and the it-wont-kill-you thing and the ever popular no-dessert-until-you-eat-it thing. The whole time you are wondering why you bothered.

'Pink chicken' worked for Kimbo. 'Pink Chicken' and hearty condiment-ation (is that a word?) worked for me, too. Maybe it will work for you, too. Thank Kimbo.

This recipe is a shameless replica of one from Hula Hut here in Austin. It is amazingly tasty, easy and fast to make, and a breeze to deconstruct for picky kids. I make the salmon on the grill, partly because I live in Austin and can grill year around, and partly because I don't have a hood over my stove (don't ask) and fish stinks up my house. I am sure you could pan-fry or bake the fish inside if you choose.

Chili Rubbed Salmon Tacos
*feeds 2 adults and 2 children

1.25 lbs salmon, preferably Alaskan wild
2 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Cajun Seasoning
Olive Oil
Heavy duty Foil

10 tortillas
1 cup diced Tomatoes
4 leaves romaine lettuce, sliced slim
1/4 bunch cilantro, cleaned and dried
10-12 mini-Carrots, cut into match sticks

1 cup light sour cream
1/2 packet ranch dressing mix
Juice of 1 lime

In food processor or mini-chop, whirl chipotle pepper and lime juice until thin. Add ranch mix and sour cream and whirl until smooth. Refrigerate to thicken.

Dice lettuce and tomatoes. Clean and separate cilantro and sliver carrots.

Heat grill on High. Make a tray out of a large sheet of foil by folding a it in half and bending up sides. Combine Chili Powder and Cajun Spice in finger bowl. Coat bottom of foil with a thin layer of olive oil. Dry fish with paper towels (if you are making this for kids, separate out a portion and season with salt and pepper only). If your Salmon has skin on one side, season the naked side only and place spice-side down on foil. If your Salmon doesn't have skin, cut it into strips and season all sides.

Place foil directly on grill, lower heat to a notch below high and close top. When the fish is nicely browned (3-5 minutes) use tongs or spatula to turn over. Grill for 3-5 minutes more until firm and opaque. On heated tortillas, place fish, sauce and veggies. Serve with Black beans.

Recipe Notes:
Canned Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce add great color and spice to a lot of Tex-Mex food. The problem is that recipes usually call for one or two, wasting the rest of the can. I place the remainder in a freezer Ziploc, spreading out the peppers separate and freezing flat. When I need one for this recipe, I just pop it out of the bag and whirl it frozen in the mini-chop, seeds and all!

This is my foil pan with my seasoned Salmon strips on the grill. The piece on the left is the one for the kids with only salt and pepper. Cutting the salmon into strips before grilling makes them easier to turn and judge doneness. However, if this piece had skin then I would keep it large and turn it all as one piece. The skin side usually sticks to the foil, making it easy to peel the fish off the skin in pieces to serve.


  1. Chipotle's are pretty hot--your kids can tolerate them? They are good Austinite's, then! I'd make these...I'd substitute cabbage for the romaine! Love your blog!


  2. I don't think the sauce turns out too hot, but they do! I just put plain sour cream and cheese in the kid tacos.

    I love cabbage in my fish tacos, also. However, I don't usually have it on hand. Thus the sub of Romaine and carrots for crunch. It works OK.

    Hope you like the recipe! Thanks for reading Mia!