Reinvention Recipes: Monahan’s Seafood

ReinventionRecipesIf Julia Child had specialized in seafood, she would have been Mike Monahan. He has taught a generation of people in Ann Arbor, MI, how to cook fish, including me.

Growing up, my fish experiences were limited to Fridays and fish sticks. But once I discovered Monahan’s Seafood, in the Kerrytown Market, an entire world opened up. Monahan’s sells everything from Lake Superior whitefish to Copper River salmon to a lobster salad that rivals any you’ll find in Maine.

His shop also carries a full line of smoked fish from Durham’s Tracklements, another Kerrytown shop that’s known nationwide for its quality products.

Along with those ingredients, Monahan’s provides recipes, and lately, it has been cooking fish for its customers. Its small cafe is always busy with diners sampling his chowder, stir fries, fish dishes and the special of the day.

His most popular special is easily his Baja Fish Tacos, available on Mondays. It’s a generous plate, at $8.95, featuring batter-dipped fish, with a slaw made from cabbage, yogurt, sour cream and cilantro. Some folks add hot sauce. Some others add a side of fries. Every Monday, Monahan’s sends out a tweet saying the tacos are ready. By 2 o’clock, they’re gone.

The Changing Gears team descended on Monahan’s recently for lunch and watched Monahan prepare fish tacos. Here’s a look at the video that Niala Boodhoo produced (the recipe follows).

Baja Fish Tacos from Monahan’s Seafood in Ann Arbor, MI
1 1⁄2 cups shredded cabbage
2 limes (1 cut into wedges)
1⁄4 red onion, thinly sliced
2T Sour cream
2T Plain yogurt
1 1⁄2 tbsp. kosher salt + pepper to taste
2 tsp. chili powder
1 package Drake’s batter mix (available at the market)
1 12-oz. bottle beer
1 lb. boneless, skinless red snapper, pollack, cod or mahi-mahi cut into 2″ strips
Canola oil, for frying
8 flour tortillas
Cilantro, chopped
Mexican hot sauce (we like Cholula)

1. In a bowl, combine cabbage, red onion, juice of 1 lime, sour cream, yogurt, and cilantro; season with salt and pepper to taste (chill). In another bowl, mix together 1 1⁄2 tbsp. salt, chili powder, Drake’s (reserve a bit of the Drake’s for dredging) and beer to make a batter.

2. Pour oil into a 5-qt. Dutch oven to a depth of 2″; heat until a thermometer reads 375˚. Sprinkle fish with chili powder and salt. Dredge fish in a bit of dry Drake’s; shake off excess. Working in batches, dip fish in batter and fry until crisp, about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack or brown paper bag set inside a sheet pan; keep warm in oven.

3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add tortillas; cook, flipping, until warmed. To serve, fill with some of the fish and cabbage, squeeze with lime, and garnish with more cilantro and hot sauce. Repeat.

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