As an inexperienced cook, I am often overly ambitious when I plan a dinner party.  Of course, I see it as my opportunity to try out a new dish I have found, which is great, but it also means I spend too much time in the kitchen and not enough time hanging out with my friends.  The Barefoot Contessa talks about this in her book, Barefoot Contessa Parties!  Her first party was an omelet party, which sounds great in theory, but in practice means very little time with those you have invited over.

A few weeks ago, I talked about my love of oysters and the fun H and I had roasting oysters over a fire pit on our vacation.  That same night, H and I were responsible for planning all of dinner.  A couple days before we left on our trip, I got my Splendid Table newsletter, “Weeknight Kitchen.”  It contained a fantastic fish taco recipe.  (If you are not signed up for this newsletter, you should be.  The recipes are great!) Seeing as we would be at the beach, H and I thought it would be great for our dinner night.  The best part was that it could be made in pieces, so I told myself, we could do some of the prep ahead of time, so we did not spend an entire evening in the kitchen.

Fast forward to Tuesday evening and there are H and I furiously whipping together our meal.  I should have also remembered that on a beach vacation, my motivation drops to nil and all I want to do is sit by water and sip on margaritas.  So we got started later than we planned and the timing was a little off.  The nice thing about sharing a house with 10 other people is that you are never lacking for an extra pair of hands.  Everyone had a hand in doing this meal.

Enter the Oysters…yes, they provided us with a great distraction, thus lots of prep time.  While H built the fire for the oysters, I made the coleslaw and the marinade.  Then while the oysters roasted on the fire pit, the fish and chicken had a little time to soak in the marinade.  After we ate some oysters, the table had to be cleaned, so while our helpful crew cleaned and reset the table, H cooked the fish and chicken on the extra grill, and I heated the tortillas over the fire pit.  (Thank goodness this house was equipped with multiple grills)

In the end, these were the most flavorful fish tacos I have ever had.  Even a day later when I ate them as leftovers at lunch, they were fantastic.  We served the tacos with some black beans that H made.  I did heed a little of Ina’s advice and purchased guacamole and fresh pico de gallo.  In the end, H and I sat down surrounded by 9 of our friends and ate delicious fish tacos and sipped on homemade margaritas.  Just the kind of feast you need at the beach.

Grilled Fish Tacos with Cilantro and Lime Coleslaw
Adapted from Lynn Rosetto Kasper’s Weeknight Kitchen on Jun 25, 2008. Excerpted from Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: Recipes from a Modern Kitchen Garden by Jeanne Kelley (Running Press Books, April 2008). Copyright 2008 by Jeanne Kelley.
Serves 10-12

Coleslaw:
2 small head cabbage (about 1-1/4 pounds each) – I used one green and one red
1 1/3 cup light sour cream
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons ground cumin
3 garlic clove, pressed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cup diced white onion
1 cup chopped cilantro

Fish:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 chiles from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo
3 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 pounds red snapper fillets
1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
50 corn tortillas
Guacamole (Homemade is best, but good store-bought will save time)
Fresh Pico de Gallo or other Fresh Salsa

Coleslaw:
1. Thinly slice the cabbage. You will most likely want to quarter it and core it before slicing. I kept slicing until my bowl was full.
2. Mix together the sour cream, lime juice, cumin, garlic, and salt together in a bowl
3. Combine the cabbage, onion, and cilantro, with the dressing and place in the refrigerator.
(According to Lynn Rosetto Kasper, the coleslaw can be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead.)

Fish
1. Throw the olive oil, chipotles, lime juice, and cumin in a blender and puree.
2. Place the chicken and fish into a shallow baking dish.
3. Pour the mixture over the fish and chicken, coating the pieces thoroughly. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. (At this point, Lynn Rosetto Kasper says you can be prepared to this point up to 8 hours ahead.)
4. Preheat the grill. Right before you place the fish on the grill, soak a paper towel with a little oil and carefully with your tongs, run the paper towel over the grill.
5. Carefully put the fish fillets and chicken on the grill and cook until just cooked through. The chicken will take much longer to cook than the fish. Once thoroughly cooked, transfer the fish and chicken to separate platters.
6. Meanwhile, heat the tortillas over a fire pit. Wrap them in foil to keep warm.
7. Using two forks, break up the fish into large pieces. The chicken can be sliced at an angle. Serve the fish and chicken, with warm tortillas, guacamole, coleslaw, and salsa, let everyone make their own tacos.