Fish tacos make a fine summer meal. They are substantial and satisfying enough to fuel you for all your outdoor activities yet light enough so they don’t weigh you down.
Like the season itself, they are casual, social and fun.
The accompanying take on them gets its flavor cues from the Hawaiian Islands, which epitomize a relaxed, endless-summer mentality and are known for food with an Asian flair — and, of course, for the mouthwatering, sweet-tangy-meaty-salty pairing of pineapple and ham.
The fish — preferably mahi-mahi, but any firm, white, flaky fish will work —is marinated in a savory mix of soy, ginger, scallion and lime. The marinade has a touch of brown sugar, as well, so the fish caramelizes lusciously once grilled.
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After cooking the fish, you flake it into chunks, give it a generous squeeze of lime, then serve it on a platter with a pile of warmed corn tortillas and a bowl of creamy chili-garlic sauce whipped together with yogurt, mayonnaise and Sriracha. Surround those with dishes brimming with colorful, tasty toppings: finely diced red bell pepper and scallions, a crunch of shredded cabbage and, yes, diced pineapple and chopped smoked ham. (I use Canadian bacon for its lean super-smokiness.)
Once all the fixings are on the table, guests can build their own tacos, the host can kick back and everyone can get a taste of aloha spirit.
Ellie Krieger’s new public television series, “Ellie’s Real Good Food,” appears on Idaho Public Television at 10 a.m. Saturdays.
Hawaiian fish tacos
For the tacos
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil, plus more for brushing
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus 8 lime wedges for serving
1 tablespoon peeled, freshly grated ginger root
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
4 large scallions (white and light-green parts), thinly sliced
1 1/4 pounds mahi-mahi fillets or other white, flaky fish
3 1/2 ounces Canadian bacon (4 slices)
Eight 6-inch corn tortillas
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into small dice
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1 1/2 cups shredded green cabbage
For the sauce
1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce, such as Sriracha
For the tacos: Whisk together the soy sauce, the 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, the ginger and dark brown sugar in a medium bowl until the sugar has dissolved.
Stir in half of the scallions, then add the fish and toss gently to coat. Marinate for 30 to 60 minutes.
Brush a grill pan lightly with oil and place it over medium-high heat. Once the pan is quite hot, add the Canadian bacon; cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until browned and crisped. Transfer to a cutting board; coarsely chop, then place in a small serving bowl. You’ll be using the grill pan again; reduce the heat to medium.
Warm the tortillas in the grill pan for 30 seconds per side or just until softened, then wrap them in a clean dish towel or aluminum foil to keep them warm.
Brush the (still hot) grill pan with a little more oil, as needed; add the fish (discard any remaining marinade). Cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness, or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Transfer to a serving plate; use a fork to break the fish into chunks, then sprinkle them with the remaining tablespoon of lime juice. Cover with foil to keep warm.
For the sauce: Stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise and chili-garlic sauce in a medium bowl.
To serve, place the red bell pepper, the remaining scallions, the pineapple, cabbage and lime wedges in small serving bowls on the table along with the tortillas, fish and sauce, for DIY assembly.
Nutrition per serving: 360 calories, 45 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 155 mg cholesterol, 470 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 9 g sugar