Fish Tacos, My First Mentor and What the Heck is Guacatillo?

Guacatillo, a tomatillo infused sauce. Similar to guacamole, but with the bright acidity of tomatillos blended right into the mix!

Guacatillo, a tomatillo infused sauce. Similar to guacamole, but with the bright acidity of tomatillos blended right into the mix!

Adorned in a torn Dead Milkmen shirt, trucker hat and the vibrant image of an American Flag with sun flowers tattooed down his arm, one of my early mentors taught me that the act of cooking is truly a language of love. He never looked the part, but as if his heart and spirit had been replaced by the withered hands and warm smile of a dream world abuelita, gentle and softened lights flickered behind the cigarette scented, stone flesh of a jaded ol' line cook. Most of cooking for this man was an attachment to a rich and vibrant history, stories told around stone pots and clay vessels, he watched diligently as we took our first bites, like a proud father watching his child's first steps. 

We spent the better part of a year together and his love for the honest and humble, robust and undeniable flavor of Mexico wasn't just an interest, it was identity. A real Mexico. A country and cuisine we seem to forget even exists in a world full of half-assed "Taco Tuesdays" men like this reminded me that sometimes, simple and tradition based dishes are an incredible and delicious way to connect cultures we may not have an opportunity to dive fully into! 

This guacatillo is a perfect sauce for any situation, but goes well on the popular Baja Style Fish Tacos. 

What you'll need:
Halibut or other white fish steaks
Limes, juice those puppies!
a teaspoon of cumin, salt, black pepper, chili powder and garlic powder
about 1/4 cup of corn starch
cabbage and radishes (sliced thin)
small corn tortillas
vegetable oil for frying fish and tortillas

Marinate halibut in lime juice for twenty minutes.
Mix starch and seasonings (salt, cumin, black pepper, chili and garlic powder.)
Cook up some of those tortillas while you wait for the fish to marinate. You've got time.
Use a paper towel to dry excess moisture from halibut filets and cut into small strips. 
Toss halibut into starch mixture and coat evenly. When you remove a piece of fish from the bowl, there should only be a light dusting on the surface.
In a very hot pan with about a tablespoon of oil gently place fish in pan.
This part shouldn't take a ton of time, your fish will cook through very quickly and if your pan is hot enough, you should start seeing some charring within 45 seconds or so. That's your sign. 

Serve it on some tortillas with shredded cabbage and sliced radishes, a little lime and a bit of this very special, Hashslinger Guacatillo.

- Hemp Cook Aaron

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