Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gluten-Free Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

When I moved to San Diego for school, the locals set out to quickly indoctrinate me show me around and share all of their unique Southern CA favorites. The site-seeing was fun, but the food? was...different. I mean, seriously, they put french fries in burritos here. Strange people! Enter the fish taco.

I sat at an outdoor table at the local Rubio's staring at my first fish taco while a small crew of miscreants cheered me on. They instructed me in the proper preparation (lime, salsa), and eagerly awaited my first taste because they knew what would happen. I honestly can't remember if I liked it. What I can tell you is (as they expected) it became a pretty serious addiction - or at very least a dietary staple that I craved multiple times per week. Since then, I've eaten hundreds of these warm crisp battered fish stuffed into soft corn tortillas dressed with cool cabbage, sauces, and a splash of lime.

It was definitely one of the foods (along with Cheerios and pot stickers) that I would truly mourn the loss of.

So, last time my parents visited, we (mom, dad, myself and Brad) rolled up our sleeves and set off to create the perfect gluten-free beer battered fish taco. They turned out wonderfully! I'm sure you'll know exactly what I mean when I said the first bite was so good I cried.

Amazing Gluten-Free Beer Battered Fish Tacos


Oil for deep frying (we used sunflower oil)
2 lbs fish fillet (any white fish, but cod is best), cut to approx 1"x1"x5"
1 cup rice flour (plus about 3/4 cups for dredging)
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup cold gluten-free beer (or carbonated water)
2 eggs
1 tsp seasoning (choose from the following *recommended always)
*salt and pepper
*garlic powder
onion powder
mexican oregano


I recommend preparing condiments and side dishes first, since once the fish frying process is started, it is hard to multi-task.

Optional: Preheat oven to 250° to keep fish warm after it is fried
1. Gently wash fish in cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.
2. Preheat oil for deep frying (350°)
3. Spread approx 3/4 cup rice flour on plate or pie tin for dredging fish
4. Mix remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl
5. Whisk together eggs and beer, then add to dry ingredients and mix until smooth
(Beer will result in a much tastier fish taco than soda water will. We've used both New Planet and Redbridge successfully.)
6. Roll fish pieces in rice flour, then drop in batter. Coat thoroughly.
7. Carefully drop fish into the hot oil. Cook in small batches (2-3 pieces), turning frequently. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the batter is golden brown and the fish is cooked thoroughly.
8. Drain on paper towel, then transfer to oven to keep warm.

Assemble and enjoy!

Dredging the fish


This particular day, we had many hands to do the work, so we created a true feast. White sauce, lime, and cabbage are the most important ingredients, but for the ultimate meal, I recommend serving with:

-white sauce: sour cream thinned with lime
-chopped cabbage (for an extra kick, squeeze lime on the chopped cabbage before returning it to the refrigerator)
-Salsa Fresca
-more lime (squeeze over finished taco)
-seasoned pinto beans (powdered spices: onion, garlic, cumin, salt)
-tortilla of choice (warmed)

Since I can't tolerate corn, we cut up some rice tortillas into a more usable size for a taco

And turned the trimmings into chips (coated with oil/salt and baked at 450° for 5 minutes)

Happy Eating!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Zucchini Flax Wraps

Taking charge of my health over the last few years has been a truly fascinating experience. Among the many thing that I have learned is that no one person - no one system - has all of the answers. The internet has answers, oh yes! Cures and recommendations I've read have ranged from casting a spell to taking an experimental pill. It seems that any question that can be raised has thousands of answers which may or may not work. I have found, however, that no system should be dismissed entirely. Truth can be found in the most unlikely places: a metaphysicist can teach you to look beyond what you see, an agnostic can teach you to trust yourself, and a follower of religion can teach you to have faith, even if you can't see the road ahead.

As I have been refining my diet to find my optimal fuel, I stumbled across the raw community. While this doesn't seem to be the right complete fuel for me, most raw food is gluten-free. Not only did the raw food train open up my eyes to wonderful new ways of preparing veggies, fruits and nuts, but it has shown me ingenious ways to wrap things! I'm a bit surprised I don't see more of my gluten-free people delving into this world of dehydrators, spiral slicers and soaked nuts.

So, my head experimenter (mom) ordered a dehydrator, a handful of books, and the experiment began!

Zucchini flax wraps are a great bread/tortilla substitute. They are flexible and colorful, not to mention versatile. This recipe, adapted from The Art of Raw Living Food: Heal Yourself and the Planet with Eco-delicious Cuisine is earthy and flavorful. And, if you'll pardon my raw food blasphemy it makes a great grilled chicken sandwich. Although, I'll admit it's plenty tasty without chicken.

Try not to be intimidated by all of the steps if you're new to this. It's really as simple as blend, spread, dry. After you do it twice, you'll be an expert.

Zucchini Flax Wrap Recipe

2 zucchini ("large", by grocery store standards)
1 1/2 cups ground flax seed (Brown or Golden - golden will be a more mild flavor)
1 clove garlic
2 cups water
salt to taste (1/4 tsp)
Fresh Basil (about 2 leaves)
Fresh Rosemary (about 1 tsp)
Fresh Thyme (about 1 tsp)
(alternatively substitute 1 Tbsp dried Italian herbs for fresh herbs)

I use a dedicated blade coffee grinder to grind flax seeds (and other non-coffee spices). You likely won't like your coffee or your flax seed if you share your spice grinder with coffee! You can buy ground flax seed, but it's much, much better to do it yourself (not to mention seeds have a significantly longer shelf life before they're ground).

Process all items except flax in a high powered blender. If you don't have one, get one =) (I love my Blendtec). If you can't get one, process in a food processor then transfer to a blender. You'll need the space when you add the flax seed.

Add the flax seed and blend well. The flax powder will start to soak up the liquid and thicken the mix immediately, so have your dehydrator tray ready to go. You'll need to use the fruit-roll up type of tray.

Spread very thin (1/8 inch) and dehydrate.

How hot? How long? Well, here's the tricky part (which I discovered is tricky as a novice at the art of dehydrating). It depends. The thicker you spread the mixture, the longer it will take. If you have a fancy 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator with side air-flow and Teflex sheets, it will not take as long (4-6 hrs at 105, but you know that already if you own an Excalibur!).

We have a fan on top dehydrator. Here's what we did:
Start dehydrator at 145 degrees for one hour. Reduce temperature to 105 (You can skip the step, of starting it at a high temp, but it does speed up the process).
Walk away from the dehydrator. Come back in a few hours (4 or so) and flip the wraps onto the regular tray. Dehydrate for three more hours. It's really a fairly forgiving cooking method, but it will take a some paying attention to psyche out your dehydrator.


Set dehydrator to 105 and leave it on all night. Wake up and wrap lunch to go!

Your wraps are done when they feel like a tortilla - flexible, but not wet. If they dry too long, enjoy your zucchini flax crackers!

But it seems like SO much work! It's not. Remember, blend, spread, dehydrate. These will keep up to 30 days in the refrigerator.

Serving suggestion:

Fill wrap with:
Ripe avocado - spread on wrap (the moisture is helpful. If you're making the wrap ahead of time, it's best to save this step until you're ready to eat it)
Grilled chicken (lemon/pepper is delicious)
Dark leafy greens
Grilled or fresh onion
A squeeze of lemon