Mexican Fish Stew to Warm Your Soul

The first time I tasted Mexican fish stew was at a little taquria in the small town of Alpine, Calif. Now if you know Alpine, there’s really not much going on there. A very active Kiwinis club, an even more active corner liquor store and some major Indian reservation casino action. There’s more but those are the main attractions.

But when you’re somewhere like that and you are stopped dead in your tracks by the smell of freshly, homemade corn tortillas wafting out of a small restaurant storefront, mixed with a savory carne asada and lime aroma, you are remiss if you don’t poke your head in and see what you can possibly dig in to for breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner.

See, most of the time in Southern California these little Mexican restaurants are owned by Mexican families that have their abuela (grandma) working in the kitchen and preparing recipes that go back generations. And I had one of those specialties at that taqueria. The best Mexican stew ever.

And what a relief it was. We were all coming down with the worst case of the flu and this was just the dish to lift my spirits. We ordered a big bowl of it and shared it family style–ladeling out big helpings of white fish delicately simmered in chicken broth perfumed with lime and cilantro, chunky tomato, shrimp, crab claws and corn on the cob. Heaven. And so simple.

It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I attempted to make this recipe. I wasn’t sure where to start and I began researching ingredients. I found some recipes with potatoes, fennel and other heavier ingredients. Which I love. But maybe not for this stew in particular. I liked the lightness of this stew and decided to create my recipe based on the simple ingredients that make this dish so delicious.

Here is what I came up with.

Ingredients: 

-4 medium-sized tilapia fillets, each cut into bite-sized chunks
-8 large peeled and deveined shrimp
-1 15 oz. can of roasted diced tomatoes
-1 large onion finely chopped
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 bay leaf
-3 limes. Juice two and leave one quartered for garnish.
-1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
-1 tbsp. of Mexican or California chili powder (not too spicy) 
-1/2 tsp. of fresh thyme taken off the stem and chopped
-2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
-2 15 oz. cans of fat-free chicken broth
-2 cups of water
-Salt and pepper to taste

 Preparing

Place the chucks of fish in a bowl and mix with the juice of two limes. Set the fish aside and start heating a dutch oven on medium heat. Once hot, add the olive oil, chopped onion, bayleaf and garlic and saute until onions and garlic are soft.

Next, add the chili powder and roasted tomatoes and stir together with the onion mixture. Then add in the marinated fish and add a good amount of salt and pepper. Simmer in the tomato broth, turning once, for about three minutes total.

Then add the chicken broth and water and bring to a gentle simmer. Once simmering add the shrimp, adjust salt as needed and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Ladle the soup into four separate bowls, top each with chopped cilantro and a lime wedge. Muy delicioso!

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Whole Chicken In a Crockpot: Who Knew?


Not this working mom. Because if I had, I would have been making this one for years! 
My picture of a whole chicken in a Crock Pot was either that I would have to smother it in some type of liquid which, for me, conjures up images of a slimy-skinned, wet and drowned whole chicken that is definitely not nice to look at and just as unpleasant to eat!
Or it could go the complete opposite way. A dried-up chicken with no liquid and a house ready to catch fire from a smoking Crock Pot when I returned home.
So I Googled it.
And low and behold there was a fool-proof recipe for a whole chicken in a Crock Pot. And it’s amazing! 

Now, I’m not trying to pass on a recipe that’s not my own. Because with everything I cook I like to put an extra spin on it. It’s the technique here that makes this so good. You could dress up your chicken any way you like and it would still turn out fantastic.
Not only that, whole chickens are about $4 each and sometimes you can stretch one chicken to make two meals such as chicken noodle soup and enchiladas, or chicken alfredo pasta and cold chicken salad. Endless possibilities for very little moola.
This is what I did the night before I was going to set up my masterpiece chicken in the Crock Pot.
Gathered my ingredients:

  • One whole chicken, innards removed and patted dry
  • Three smashed and minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. of grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tbsp. of orange marmalade
  • 1 tbsp. of soy sauce
  • 1 lemon with all of rind grated
  • Seasoned salt and pepper
  • 1 large whole white onion, roughly chopped

Put it all together:
First, in a medium bowl mix the orange marmalade with the grated lemon rind, ginger, garlic and soy sauce and squeeze half of the lemon into the mixture.
Next, with the chicken on a platter, spread the bulk of the mixture underneath the skin of the breast and legs and then some remaining on top of the skin. Season the whole chicken with a sprinkling of seasoned salt and pepper.
Then add your chopped onion to the bottom of the Crock Pot, place the chicken on top and when you’re ready in the morning—fire that Crock Pot up for at least eight hours. That’s it! The onion and chicken itself provide enough liquid for the chicken to braise. But what’s unreal is that there’s enough fat in the skin that the outside turns out golden brown and delectable. There’s nothing better than browned, wonderful crispy chicken skin. (Well…maybe.)
There you have it. Eat the chicken as is in one dinner setting or cut and divide for multiple dishes. It’s completely up to you!

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