As you may have noticed from my previous Dinner Tonight posts, I have something of an infatuation with little tomatoes. And I hate to break it to you, but as long as they're still sweet and in season, I'm going to continue buying them by the basket. Plus, coming up with tasty meals using them is easy. It doesn't really matter what they're combined with—the result will undoubtedly be redolent of summer.
But Sun Golds don't always have to hog the spotlight. Instead of cooking them, I left them raw for this simple salsa, so I could focus my attention on another essential summer ingredient: sweet corn. Following Kenji's method for easily charring corn in a non-stick skillet, I created a salsa that's smoky, crunchy, and, thanks to some jalapeños, spicy. Sounds great, right? But though I've tried before, man can't live on salsa alone.
Considering how great fried chips go with salsa, I hit on the idea of serving the corn salsa with crispy fried fish. I mentally went through a list of all kinds of batters and bread crumb options, but none sounded right, because I wanted to avoid dirtying up the whole kitchen. Fortunately, I came across a technique in Rick Bayless's Authentic Mexican that couldn't be much simpler. Fish fillets are sprinkled with salt and lime and set aside for 30 minutes. Once dried on some paper towels, they need only to be tossed in flour, then pan-fried in a mixture of butter and oil. They come out of the pan with a thin and crispy crust, with no heavy breading to get in the way.
All you need to do is heap some salsa on top and dig in.
Read more: Pantry Essentials: All About Salsa
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- 4 boneless white-fleshed fish fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each (such as whitefish or tilapia)
- 3 tablespoons fresh juice from about 3 limes, plus more to taste
- Kosher salt
- 4 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 3 cups fresh corn kernels, from about 4 ears corn
- 3 cups Sun Gold tomatoes, quartered
- 1 to 2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1/2 large white onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3 tablespoons butter
Place fish fillets on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of lime juice and a couple pinches of salt. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add corn kernels, toss well with a wooden spoon, and then spread evenly out. Cook until starting to char on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Stir well, and cook until corn starts to char again, another 2 minutes. Continue process until corn is evenly charred on all sides but not burnt, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer corn to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, jalapeños, onion, garlic, cilantro, and remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Add additional lime juice as necessary. Set aside.
Dry fish fillets on paper towels. Use a fork to mix together flour and a 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a large baking dish. Wipe out skillet and return to medium heat. Add butter and heat until melted. Dredge two fish fillets in the flour, shake off the excess, and then carefully place them in the skillet skin-side down. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side, another 3 to 4 minutes. When both sides are browned and fish is cooked through, drain the fillets on a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm. Repeat process with the remaining 2 fillets.
Serve the fried fish with the corn salsa.