Wednesday, June 9, 2010

weekend dinner fiesta

Image courtesy of Macy's

After the Cork'd Tasting on Monday night, I found myself in a cab flanked by two gents. Go, Kiira! One, an Arizona-native new to New York City, asked where he could find really good Mexican. The other, a Cape Codder, immediately exclaimed, "Dos Caminos!" To which, this Connecticut-raised girl responded, "It doesn't exist in Manhattan. Gotta go to the Red Hook ball fields." I then started to back peddle a bit as I reminisced about the fish tacos I had from Dos Caminos (which, by the way, are quite good), but eventually came to the decision that if you want a really good Mexican food experience, and a trip to Brooklyn isn't in your cards, you're going to have to pony up and do it yourself. And this weekend? You're throwing down a Mexican Fiesta.

The lack of fresh, authentic Mexican in New York City is a doggone mystery to me. For a cuisine so seemingly approachable, I can't understand how many places are serving up mediocre at best fish tacos. A piece of fish on a soft taco with shredded cabbage and avocado should always taste good. Because how could it not? Sadly, that's not always the case. But by making it yourself, well, your odds of success just increased infinitely.

shrimp ceviche with coconut milk, chile, and cilantro
or: 2007 Chateau St. Michelle Eroica Riesling

grilled swordfish soft tacos with avocado, shredded cabbage, chipotle-lime aioli
peach salad with queso fresco
2005 Clean Slate Riesling

2005 Leonard Kreusch Beerenaulese

As for the wine pairings, Nathan Scherotter of Cork'd thoughtfully suggests the following:

"As a preface to the recommendations, we feel that Riesling, in general, is a great pair with all types of Mexican food. It compliments the flavors and combats the spices, making it a solid option. For the appetizer: 2007 Chateau St. Michelle Eroica Riesling. There has always been a lot of hype about this wine, but it's one of my favorites. Awesome lush, green apple and acidity make it a great way to start off the night. It will also work off of the lime and cilantro beautifully. For the main: 2005 Clean Slate Riesling. Our reviewers have loved this wine. It is a good change from the previous one--more of a mineral taste and very crisp and clean with some pear and peach action in there. I think this will really enhance the chipotle and peach flavors while not overpowering the fish. For dessert: Now let's get into some Late Harvest Riesling. The 2005 Leonard Kreusch Beerenaulese consists of apricot, honey, and pear with the needed acidity to match the texture of the flan. The flavors of the wine and dessert will go really well together."

And as always, if wine isn't your cup of horchata, feel free to throw a couple Coronas and Dos Equis in the cooler. They'll hold up just fine with this spread.

Now, andele! Start squeezing those limes. You're going to need a lot of them.

Shrimp Ceviche with Coconut Milk, Chile, and Cilantro
Adapted from a Tyler Florence Recipe, Serves 8

1-1/2 lbs. extra-large or jumbo shrimp, peeled
1-1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
3/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 (or 2) serrano chiles, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
salt to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the shrimp and add in a generous handful of salt. Add in the shrimp and allow to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, just until pink. Immediately transfer them to an ice bath to cool.

Drain the shrimp, pat dry, and cut into 1-inch size pieces. In a large bowl, combine the coconut milk, lime juice, onion, garlic, chiles, and cilantro and season with salt. Add in the shrimp and allow them to marinate, refrigerated, for about 1/2 hour.

Serve in martini glasses.

For the grilled swordfish soft tacos, I'd recommend picking up 4 or 5 swordfish steaks (to serve 6) and marinate them in fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, fresh oregano, and garlic for an longer. Grill the steaks, about 4 minutes a side then transfer to a platter and cut into chunks for easy taco building. Whip up some chipotle-lime aioli by combining mayo with some chipotle in adobo, lime zest, and juice. Shred some green cabbage and slice some avocado. Tacos are ready for the table.

The peach salad could not be easier. Slice up some perfectly ripe (I prefer slightly under ripe) peaches, thinly sliced some red onion, add them to a bowl with a handful of baby arugula. Squeeze some fresh lime juice on top, a drizzle of olive oil, and toss. Crumble some queso fresco on top and serve.

(Watermelon-Basil Margarita, Mexican street corn, and dulce de leche flan recipes are linked above in the menu)


Anonymous said...

isn't there a dos caminos in midtown east?

also, nitpicky, but a ceviche isn't really a mexican dish. it's south american. As are most of the foods served red hook ball fields... just sayin.

Kiira Leess said...

hello anonymous ;) thanks for the comment!

yes, there's a dos caminos in midtown east. they have 4 locations in nyc.

as far as the ceviche is concerned, you're right: it's origins are in south america. but in the menu's defense, i wasn't necessarily going the authentic mexican route, but rather, one that celebrated some of the traditional flavors with a new spin.

i have been trying to get myself to red hook for FAR too long and will be sure to get out there as soon as i can. the huaraches have been calling my name ever since i demolished one at the brooklyn flea.



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