David Valleau's recipe comes from the chef's experiences working in small fish restaurants in Southern California. "It's an adaptation of what cooks from Guadalajara made for themselves in the kitchen," says David. Lime juice, cilantro, and pepper, he adds, "is the holy trinity--acid, spice, and herb--of Mexican fish tacos." When it comes to purchasing and handling cod, David suggests adhering to the seafood importers' motto: quick, cold, and clean. "What's most important," he says, "is how fresh it is, how quickly it gets to market."
2 (6-ounce) cod fillets
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tequila
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 small serrano chile, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
How to Make It
Pat fillets dry, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a cast iron or oven-safe skillet over high heat. Sear cod on one side 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from heat, and pour tequila into the pan. Swirl tequila around the fish, and quickly light liquid with a long match or lighter. Allow to flame 10 seconds.
Turn the fillets over, and sprinkle with lime juice and serrano chile. Roast at 425° for 6 to 8 minutes or until flaky and opaque. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with cilantro.
Wine note: A lovely, all-purpose wine to pair with this cod recipe is the Chateau Ste. Michelle 2004 Horse Heaven Sauvignon Blanc ($18). If you want to expand your vino repertoire, try Drylands Estate Sauvignon Blanc, 2004, Marlborough, New Zealand ($18), recommended by Michael Flynn, wine director and sommelier for Kinkead's Restaurant in Washington, D.C.