My husband and I are empty nesters and have been for more years than I want to recall. Consequently, I’ve had to become adept at cutting recipes for four or six down to serve two. Imagine then my excitement when I spotted Carla’s Snyder’s newest cookbook, One Pan, Two Plates. Finally, I could dispense with the culinary math I go through on weeknights for here was a book with more than 70 special cooked-from-scratch meals prepared imaginatively with fresh ingredients designed for twosomes.
The Lamb Kebabs with Harissa, Chickpeas, and Summer Squash were a huge hit with my spouse who loved the spicy meat and vegetables
countered by cooling lemon-scented sour cream. Pan Fried Artic Char with Garam Masala, Broccolini, and Yogurt was another winner. My favorite, though, was Catfish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw—an uncomplicated dish that boasted big bold flavors and nicely balanced contrasts of texture.
Perpetually rushed, I appreciate that each recipe has a tag giving the prep as well as the start-to-finish times. Other bonuses include market notes on where to find unfamiliar ingredients and tips for wine pairings. Oh, and you won’t have a sink full of pots to deal with after cooking from this book—every recipe calls for only one large pan!
The following recipe is adapted from One Pan, Two Plates by Carla Snyder (Chronicle Books 2013).
Catfish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Hands on time: 30 minutes
1 tsp chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (See note on chiles.)
1/4 cup/60 ml mayonnaise
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup/115 g very thinly sliced white cabbage
1 cup/115 g very thinly sliced red cabbage
1 green onion, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced
1 large egg
2 tsp hot sauce
1 cup/110 g panko bread crumbs, plus more if needed
1/4 cup/30 g flour
8 to 10 oz/ 225 to 280 g catfish filets
1/2 cup/120 ml vegetable oil
Four or five 10-in/25 cm flour tortillas
1. In a large bowl, combine the chipotle, mayonnaise, honey, lime juice 1/4 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper and stir well to mix. Add both cabbages and the green onion and toss and stir to combine and coat the vegetables well with the chipotle mayonnaise. Set aside.
2. Beat the egg in a large shallow bowl with a splash of water, pinch of salt, and the hot sauce. Pour the panko and flour onto two separate large plates. Pat the fillets dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
3. Dredge the fish in the flour and knock off the excess. Dip the fish into the egg to coat it completely and then coat it thoroughly with the panko. Place the filets on a platter as they are breaded.
4. Heat a 12-in/30.5 cm frying pan over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. When the oil shimmers and is very hot slip the breaded fish into the pan and brown it on one side, about 3 minutes. Turn it and brown the other side, another 3 minutes. Transfer the fish to paper towels to drain.
5. Pour off the oil in the pan (pouring it into a metal can in the sink works well) and return the pan to the heat. Dump the slaw mixture into the pan and toss it for about 1 minute to warm it up. Don’t cook it so long that it completely wilts. You want it to have a little crunch. Return the slaw to the bowl so that it doesn’t overcook.
6. Warm the tortillas wrapped in microwavable plastic until soft and pliable, about 20 to 30 seconds. Lay the fish down the center of the tortillas and top it with the slaw. Wrap in the sides and bottom and eat these fish tacos with your hands. Use lots of napkins.
Note: Chipotle is a smoked jalapeño pepper usually packed in adobo or a spicy tomato sauce. You can rarely use the whole can in a recipe because they are quite hot, so I freeze the remaining chiles in zip lock bags to use another time. Be cautious when handling the chiles, as they can be quite hot. Wear gloves if you are sensitive or try not to touch them with your fingers too much.
Variation: Other fish to fry are cod, tilapia, or even salmon cut into wide strips.
Extra Hungry? Since you’re eating this meal with your hands, how about pairing it up with a bowl of your favorite potato chips?
In the glass: A Spanish Albariño would be my choice here. It has the acidity to cut the richness of the tacos but with a softer, creamy edge.