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Fish Tacos al Pastor


Fish Tacos al Pastor – These savory-sweet tacos de pescado al pastor, from the chef Luis Herrera of Ensenada restaurant in Brooklyn, are impressive parcels of celebration.

Grilling the pineapple gets you close to the charred flavor of al pastor, “in the style of a shepherd,” without the traditional rotating vertical spit, a method of barbecuing lamb that Lebanese immigrants brought to Mexico in the late 19th century.

Fish Tacos al Pastor – In place of the more common pork are grilled, buttery whitefish fillets stained with brick-red chile sauce.

This adobo, redolent of raisins and raked with warm spices, is a labor of love for the people you love, so lean into the process.

You can make the adobo and pineapple pico de gallo a day ahead, and even marinate the fish the night before.

Fish Tacos al Pastor – Then, on taco day, just grill the fish to serve, complete with grilled corn, a cooler of lagers and the best corn tortillas you can find — the kinds that slacken and steam over the fire.


Fish Tacos al Pastor With Pineapple Pico de Gallo

Prepare the fish: Season the fish on all sides with salt and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Prepare an outdoor grill for direct high-heat cooking or heat an indoor grill or grill pan over medium-high.

Fish Tacos al Pastor With Pineapple Pico de Gallo – Make the Pineapple Adobo

Cut one-third of the trimmed pineapple into large chunks (about 2 ½ cups) and cut the remaining into ¼-inch-thick slabs.

Place the pineapple slabs and chunks, tomatoes, onion, garlic and dried chiles on a large sheet pan.

Grease the grill: Use tongs to grip a wadded paper towel dipped in oil and rub the grates.

Using a grill basket if you have one, grill the pineapple, tomatoes, onion and garlic (cover if using a gas grill) and turn occasionally until charred in spots and tender.

The garlic will take about 5 minutes; the pineapple slabs and onion 8 to 12 minutes; the pineapple chunks 12 to 15 minutes; and the tomatoes 20 to 25 minutes.

Toast the dried chiles directly on the grill, turning once, until fragrant, just a few seconds to a minute.

Turn off the heat.

Wearing gloves, remove the stems and seeds from the dried chiles.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add the dried chiles and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer to a plate. Save the cooking water.

Meanwhile, toast the cinnamon sticks, cloves, cumin seeds and peppercorns in a skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, about a minute.

Add the grilled vegetables, pineapple chunks (save the slabs), rehydrated chiles, toasted spices and 2 tablespoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt and blend until very smooth, adding a splash or two of the chile water if needed to blend.

Pass the adobo through a fine-mesh sieve.

Taste and add salt as needed.

In a large, deep pot or Dutch oven, heat ½ cup grapeseed oil over medium-high until wisps of smoke start to appear.

Carefully add the adobo to the hot oil (watch out for splattering) and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and emulsified, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Fish Tacos al Pastor With Pineapple Pico de Gallo – Make the Pineapple Pico de Gallo

Finely dice the grilled pineapple slabs, then add to a bowl along with the red onion, cilantro, olive oil and serrano chile. Season to taste with salt and stir to combine.

Fish Tacos al Pastor With Pineapple Pico de Gallo – Cook the Fish

Heat the grill or grill pan to medium-high. Grease the grates again. Generously brush both sides of the fish with the adobo.

Grill the fish, skin side down, until the skin is slightly charred and comes off the grates easily, 4 to 7 minutes on the first side and 30 seconds on the second side.

Grill swordfish for 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a large platter.

To serve, top each fillet with some of the pineapple pico de gallo and garnish with the cilantro leaves and serrano chile slices. Serve with tortillas and lime wedges.

Fish Tacos al Pastor TIP
Mild in heat with rich, Christmasy fruitiness, dried guajillo and ancho chiles can be found at many supermarkets, Mexican grocery stores and online.

The bright red guajillos are non-negotiable, Mr. Herrera says, but if you really need to, in place of the dark, raisiny anchos, you can substitute the same weight of pasilla chiles or 2 tablespoons chipotle en adobo.

Fish Tacos al Pastor Ingredients

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Fish Tacos al Pastor Ingredients for the Fish

8 to 10 skin-on white fish fillets, such as branzino, snapper or sea bass, or 4 to 6 swordfish steaks (2 ½ to 3 pounds total)
Kosher salt
1 pineapple, trimmed, peeled and cored (or 2 pounds store-bought cut pineapple)
4 plum tomatoes
1 small white onion, cut into large chunks
4 garlic cloves
5 guajillo chiles (1 ounce); see Tip
5 ancho chiles (3 ounces); see Tip
Grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 cinnamon sticks, preferably Mexican
5 whole cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Fish Tacos al Pastor Pineapple Pico de Gallo

1 cup finely diced red onion
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
Kosher salt

Fish Tacos al Pastor for Serving

Whole cilantro leaves and thinly sliced serrano chile, for garnish
About 40 corn tortillas, warmed, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving

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