Life and Fish Tacos Deconstructed

Fish Tacos Deconstructed

Life is not unlike a delicious meal; it has many flavorful components to it. And just as with a good meal, I enjoy being able to deconstruct life from time to time to examine each of the tasty, individual components it contains, to see if I can possibly make any creative improvements. In life, the plate contains our self and our family (the protein), our friends and our acquaintances (the starch), our jobs and our work (the veggies), and our free-to-use time (the yummy sauce). Sometimes it’s necessary to be able to have those tasty components laid out to take a closer look at, to perhaps discover that a little tweaking may be just what’s needed for a fresh take. A chance to look at an area of life is a chance for renewed appreciation, taking something good and “freshening it up” a bit. It’s no different in regards to a meal when a unique use of an ingredient can update an old favorite and put a new spin on it. Food-life parallels are really something; who’d have thought that lessons could be learned from how we approach what we love putting into our bellies? Sure, there are the times when a “classic” set-up is good left as is, but then there are the times a little creativity can shake things up in a much needed and colorful way, both in the kitchen and in life.

Fish Tacos Deconstructed

Fish Tacos Deconstructed

My husband and I are very similar in many ways. We have compatible views on the importance of faith and family; we have a similar taste in music, in art and in style. Occasionally, however, we’ll interpret things differently, or each of our approaches to something may differ. When that happens, it momentarily throws us for a loop, and some frustration may be demonstrated on both of our parts. Lately, funny enough, when we find ourselves in this situation, we’ve learned to turn it around by “deconstructing” it. I’ve noticed that without even really thinking about it, we take apart where we’re at in that moment emotionally, and trace things back to the specific point where the frustration really began.  It ends up being a tremendous help. Tweaking our mentality towards the situation by getting to the truth of it allows for views to change and true relief to be found. Genuine growth in the relationship can take place, adjustments can be made by each of us and old habits can be cleared away making room for new ones. Deconstructing something offers the potential to experience a better, newer, more refined version of that component of life once it’s put back together again. It’s spice for the soul, and liberating for the spirit.

Fish Tacos Deconstructed

I’m so often astounded at the similarities between life and food. Food can teach so many lessons; we learn a lot from the preparation of it and the very intention behind all that goes into it. As a personal chef, a major part of my job is to find ways of preparing healthy meals as creatively and deliciously as possible. Substitutions of ingredients often need to be made for various reasons, so I take apart a particular meal I have in mind to prepare in order to find an interesting, new way of putting it back together again, still in the spirit of the original. Every so often taking apart a familiar meal to see the components within can inspire a new idea, and in turn, a new way of enjoying it. Just like with life. And, of course, if fish tacos are involved, a little delicious “deconstruction” can’t possibly hurt there, either!

Taste what’s good and pass it on.


Fish Tacos Deconstructed

Deliciously Deconstructed Fish “Tacos” with Black Beans n’ Rice
Print this recipe

(Serves 4)

Black Beans ingredients:

1 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon cumin
• Pinch salt/pepper

Rice ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, presses through garlic press
1 cup Jasmine rice
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cup water
1 tablespoon lime juice


– Beans: Add the rinsed and drained black beans into a small pan; add the oil, the cumin and pinch of salt/pepper, and gently heat until warmed through; set aside and keep warm.

– Rice: In a medium pot over medium heat, add the oil and the garlic; once fragrant, add the rice and toast in the garlic-oil for a couple of minutes, stirring; add the salt and then water, and bring to the boil; cover and the reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 15-20 minutes until rice is tender; fluff with fork, cover and keep warm.

Crispy Tilapia Fillets ingredients:

4 (4oz) Tilapia fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, pressed through garlic press
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt, divided use
¼ teaspoon black pepper, divided use
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
¼ teaspoon paprika
• Vegetable oil for frying
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges for garnish


-On a large plate/platter, rub the Tilapia fillets with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the garlic, lime juice, cumin, ¼ teaspoon of the salt and a pinch of the black pepper; allow to marinate for about 20 minutes. (*While fish marinates, prepare the rest of the meal’s components.)

-Once the Tilapia is marinated, add the Panko breadcrumbs to a large plate along with ¼ teaspoon of the salt, pinch of black pepper and the paprika, and stir together with a fork; working one at a time, take each Tilapia fillet and press firmly into the Panko breadcrumbs, coating each side very well; lay the coated fillets onto another clean plate, and repeat the process until all 4 fillets are breaded.

-In a large pan, add enough vegetable oil to come about 1/3 of the way up; turn heat on medium-high, and allow oil to heat; once hot, add two of the Tilapia fillets to the oil, and fry for about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown; remove from oil and place onto paper towels to drain; repeat process with remaining two fillets; once all are fried, set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.

Fresh Corn Relish ingredients:

4 ears fresh corn on the cob, kernels cut and reserved (roughly 1 ¼ cup kernels)
1 small, red bell pepper, diced
½ tomato, diced
1 green onion, chopped
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (add whole pepper if more heat is desired)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 ¼ teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon honey
• Pinch salt/black pepper


-In a small bowl, add all of the corn relish ingredients and toss together to combine; place into refrigerator until ready to serve.

Cabbage Slaw ingredients:

½ head small cabbage, cut in half again, cored and thinly sliced
½ head small, purple cabbage, cut in half again, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
• Pinch black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped


-In a small bowl, add all of the slaw ingredients and toss together to combine; place into refrigerator until ready to serve.

Creamy Fish “Taco” Sauce ingredients:

¼ cup light sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup reduced fat buttermilk
1 tablepsoon water
¼ teaspoon lime zest
1 ¾ tablespoon lime juice
1 ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 small garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
• Pinch cayenne pepper


-In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well combined and smooth; place into refrigerator until ready to serve.

To Serve:

-Add one fried Tilapia fillet onto each plate along with equal portions of the rice, the beans and the corn relish; top the fried Tilapia fillet with a small ‘nest’ of the cabbage slaw, and add a small amount of creamy sauce on the side (for fun, you can serve the creamy sauce in a shot-glass); garnish with a wedge of lime.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Natalie April 13, 2012, 7:37 am

    I was just thinking about what to have for lunch today and then I see this link. You are killing me here Ingrid LOL

  • Emily April 13, 2012, 2:07 pm

    These are absolutely brilliant photos! They’re stunning and this looks delicious.

  • kat April 15, 2012, 12:04 pm

    OMG those are the most amazing photos I have ever seen! You are such a great photographer, I’m in envy lol. The fish tacos look so good! I’m hungry now :)

  • Abby April 23, 2012, 4:20 pm

    I’m way behind – but this looks just heavenly! Lovely meal.

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