Menu 4 Fish Tacos
Welcome to another chef designed school lunch cooking demonstration. My name is Ed Herrera and I work with the Idaho Department of Education. This is Chef Brenda who is a registered dietitian and certified chef. Hi Ed how are you today? I’m doing great, how are you? I’m doing Great. I’m excited to share this fish taco recipe with you, along with the salad that we’re going to prepare today. Wonderful, wonderful. Now with fish tacos, can you tell us a little bit about fish tacos out in the food industry right now in the restaurant world? Yeah, I know that we’re competing a lot with restaurants. Some students are going off campus and eating off campus and we really want to market our students to eat lunch in the school. And so this recipe was designed to do just that to compete with the restaurants. Fish tacos are very popular right now especially with some of the food truck movement that’s going on in some of the bigger cities, but also in the restaurants, and students really recognize that fish tacos are a popular food. And I have to admit when I first saw this recipe, I was a bit hesitant especially in Idaho where fish is not overly popular. But I just wanted to share some of the student comments after we tried this dish. A second grade student said, “this is my favorite chef meal” so after some of the great meals that we’ve seen and that we’ll see here soon, for this to be the favorite I was a little bit surprised were you? I was absolutely surprised because it was, it’s fish. But then again it is a popular food right now so I think sometimes we think, oh fish the students may not like it, but we have to remember that we’re trying to stay up with the trends and fish tacos are definitely trendy right now. Absolutely, and we’ll touch on this later, but a third-grade student said, “if you try it with the sauce it is soooo good” and there are four Os so that’s why I accentuated so good. So a third grade student liking the sauce, what do you think about that? I think it’s awesome and I think it’s really important to know that when you’re preparing the fish tacos that the sauce really does make the dish. So we did serve the sauce on the side and when some of the students started eating the fish tacos they didn’t like them until we said, oh you need to put the sauce on top. So it’s kind of like a homemade tartar sauce, but for fish tacos, and it really does make the dish, along with the limes. Absolutely, yeah, and here’s another comment that I’m surprised about, it says, “I like these fish sticks better than chicken nuggets” and that’s from a fourth-grade student. Yeah, I was excited to hear that because we need more fish in our diet so it’s very exciting. And just to clarify this fish is made from USDA foods Pollock. We had it processed and we bring this Pollock in, in two different forms, in this breaded form which is a fish stick, and an unbreaded pollock wedge as well but we will be touching on those a little bit later. Yeah, I do want to say though with the fish tacos you can make fish tacos with the Pollock that is not breaded and just toss it in a little bit of taco seasoning and it’s very good. Wonderful, yeah, and we’ve talked about what the kids, what the students have said, and one comment that the food service directors have said that I want to touch on, is it says “finally a way to serve fish that students will eat”! Were you surprised by that? I was excited to hear that because I think that’s what we’re doing this for is we really want to help the schools to encourage students to eat the meals, and so I was excited that they were excited to make this dish, so that they can hopefully increase their participation. And it’s a dish that the students will love. Wonderful, we’ve done a lot of talking about the reaction from the students, reaction from foodservice, show us how you did your magic chef Brenda. Okay, well first of all we’re just going to put the fish sticks on a pan, a sheet pan and we’re going to throw them in the oven and you want to cook them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. So I’m just going to go ahead and throw these in the oven. Okay, and then we are going to talk about the pre-preparation that needs to occur for this recipe. So to prepare the ingredients, the green chilies, you’re going to want to drain the green chilies to remove some of the liquid. Then I encourage you to buy the shredded cabbage because it does take a lot to shred the cabbage, but if you want to, we were at a school where we did some training and you and I helped shred the cabbage. So you can cut it if you’d like. And in this particular case was this, did this come from a cole slaw mix? This one today we did use a cole slaw mix for the green cabbage and it did have a little bit of carrot in it so we’re not going to stress out about that too much, it just adds a little bit of color and students love carrots. And then we went ahead and shredded the red cabbage um so you could do a coleslaw mix with, and add some more red cabbage. Toss it together so that you’re not taking up so much time when you start serving. Okay? And then we went to the limes. This was really exciting. The limes, the kids loved the limes, they kept saying how awesome it was that they got to take that little lime wedge and squeeze the juice on their taco. So it is a lot to get 10 slices out of one lime. So Ed and I had an experience. Ed do you want to talk about that experience when we were at the school? Yes, we were at a school, we were testing this recipe and at first I’m sitting there with a case of onion, a case of limes and a chopping board and a knife and I’m chopping away as fast as I can, and all of a sudden they bring out this slicer and it is a wedger, yes a wedger, absolutely. So I was like a little kid in the candy store. I would take the limes plunge it down, boom you have six slices right away and those were a little bit larger than what we were trying to get, so I then take some of those and cut those a little bit smaller. But let me tell you, that case of limes went by a lot faster using the wedger. Absolutely, so that’s a great idea and a little tip. And then we diced up some tomatoes. You can also buy them pre diced if you’d like, and then we chopped up some green onions and we found through this whole process that students love green onions and they add a lot of color and they are a beautiful garnish. So highly encourage the green onions. you can also buy those pre-chopped if you’d like to as well. So let’s go ahead and get started on making the sauce. This sauce can be made the day, a day ahead of time, it’s kind of like the whole chili concept when you make chili and you put it in the fridge or like potato salad you make it the day before and you refrigerate it overnight it always tastes better the next day. Plus this is, this whole meal is a lot of prep, so I encourage you to go ahead and make the sauce for the fish tacos and then the sauce you can make the salad that we’re going to be making here in a little bit, a day ahead of time as well. So that way it can sit in the fridge and those flavors can really enhance each other by marinating overnight. So we’re going to start off with some green chilies. These are drained green chilies that came from a can? Came from a can. yep. And then we are going to add some nonfat yogurt. So this is a great way to add a little bit of tartness like a tartar sauce and a lot of nutrients into your sauce, so you’re kind of sneaking in a little bit of calcium. Not really being that sneaky but and this is a plain yogurt it’s not flavored in any way right? Right, absolutely you don’t want to do a vanilla yogurt or anything like that. And then you want to add your USDA Mayo which is very creamy and smooth. And again this mayonnaise is what is, an item that we have processed here in Idaho. Alright, and then I go ahead and add your lime juice, cumin, and I’m going to sprinkle this so it helps when I stir it here a little bit, a little oregano, a little garlic powder, just a dash of salt there. All right, then I’m going to mix it up here. I grew up in a household that used a lot of cumin, so just having those smells is really comforting for me? I guess it’s a comfort spice? But I didn’t realize that the cumin had that strong of an odor. Actually all of the ingredients are really melding together to form a really good smelling sauce. Yeah, it’s so delicious it’s wonderful. All right, ok now I’m going to add the salsa here, and if you’re preparing a large batch of this can schools use a larger mixer? Absolutely, if you are using or if you’re making sauce for 500 students, you’re absolutely going to want to use a mixer instead of a bowl. And what sort of recommendations do you have for for those schools that have those larger populations? Are there any tips that when they’re using a mixer? No, I think you can just put it in with your wire mix and turn it on. You don’t want to overmix it, put a lot of air into it, and then it’s hard to measure. Of course if you’re making it the day before that’s, that’s not going to make a huge difference but I think you have to be careful when you’re measuring not to ever over mix too much, because that’s always an issue with putting a lot of air into something, and then when you start serving you could, you know, have too much or too little. So, all right, so we’re going to refrigerate this sauce. Alright, now we’re going to talk about warming up these corn tortillas. So what you want to do is get four paper towels and wet them with some water, okay, and then we’re going to go ahead and stagger them on a sheet pan that has some parchment paper on it here. Alright, so the goal here is to not dry out our tortillas. Corn tortillas dry out very very easily and if they dry out then they break in half when the students are trying to eat the fish tacos. And it gets a little bit messy. So if you live in a drier climate, one idea that we have, that we’ve seen some schools do, and they lived in a really dry climate, is they put over some saran wrap on top of the tortillas then they laid a fresh clean towel on top of the saran wrap and then they covered it with foil. But today for our purposes we, and what we did at the school that we tested at, was you just took these paper towels that are wet and we bunched them up in the corners of the pan and then we wrapped foil around it really tight. Because you don’t want that fluid to come out you want it to go into the tortillas, Now another thing I want to mention here, is once you get the seal on it really tight, if you’re serving students at a different, at different time slots then you’re going to want to kind of batch cook the tortillas. Where you’re cooking you have one pan, for one time frame, one pan for the other because if you keep taking it in and out of the warmer we’ve noticed that those tortillas really dry up and start breaking apart. Okay, so in those cases half sheet may be perfect, Absolutely it might be perfect or a full sheet if you’re, you know you’re serving 100 students all at once or 200 students all at once just depending. And then you’re just going to go ahead after you get this tight nice seal around with the pan with the foil then you’re going to want to just put it in the warmer for about two hours. So they’ll get nice and warm and then they’ll be nice and pliable and moist. Great. All right Ed, now that we have the tortillas in the warmer we’re going to go ahead and make the sauce for the broccoli and bean salad. Wonderful. Okay. So first here we have our idaho processed mayo and we have our USDA salsa. we’re going to add a little bit of milk to thin it out just a little bit some cumin for lots of flavor, some chili powder, some garlic powder, parsley, a little bit of salt and pepper, and then we’re going to add just a hint of red pepper flakes for a little bit of spice. And then we’re just going to mix that up here. That chili powder makes you want to sneeze a little huh? You mentioned earlier with it with that with the other sauce that it’s a good idea to make it the day before Would you have this recommendation for this salad? Absolutely i think if you make it the day before you could even make the salad the day before, just want to make sure that if you’ve washed your broccoli that the broccoli is dry so it doesn’t add any fluid to it, that kind of thing. And then also you want to make sure that your beans are drained really well. Another hint if you want to start the day before, here I’ve already tossed in the green onions with the beans and marinated them overnight to add a little bit of the flavor because these are very low sodium beans. You could also mix all of the seasonings in with the beans the night before along with the green onions throw them in the refrigerator and it’ll just add a lot of nice flavor to those beans. They’ll be a lot more flavorful. All right so now we’re going to go ahead and add our beans that have been chilled overnight with our green onions to add some flavor and they’re drained very well, we’ve also rinsed them. Our USDA foods. Now let you take that tray there too and then we’re going to just add a little bit more mix to this here. And then we’re going to toss in our broccoli. And the students love broccoli so we like to add a lot of broccoli. If you have the USDA frozen broccoli you could substitute by just blanching it the day before and then throwing it in the refrigerator and cooling it overnight. But you just want to make sure that you change your recipe accordingly. could I have one of those spatulas over there? Now when you blanch it if you do use the USDA foods broccoli and you blanch it how long should they blanch them? Probably not more than five minutes. the USDA has a really good cooking instruction on there on the label for the broccoli so I would follow their instructions. That’s a good question. So when we were serving the salad some of the students were going “oh my beans are cold this is really weird but it tastes really good”. Sometimes they give us confusing messages. The days they said my beans are cold they should be warm so it’s a good idea to do a little bit of Education the day before on your menu and talk about how beans can be cold and how they can be good in a salad. Would you recommend to food service directors maybe to make a small batch and sample this out? Absolutely and we did that with the tacos as well. So that was a really good idea because participation what went down a little bit when we mentioned fish. It also was a little bit confusing because we were serving cold beans. But we did sample out, we cut the fish tacos in half some even in fourths and then we gave little samples of the bean salad and the kids loved it and they were really disappointed that they did not have lunch school lunch that day. What were some of the comments from those students that didn’t try it right away? They were very, they were very disappointed they brought their lunch. They wish they would have had lunch at school that day and so they said next time you serve the fish tacos I’m going to eat the fish tacos. So the school that we tested it at actually has it on their menu now. Wonderful, yes. So all right now we have our beautiful bean and broccoli salad. so it kind of has that Fiesta style and feel to it and so we’re going to pull our tray on over here and we’re going to get our fish sticks out of the oven. Alright Ed it looks like our fish sticks are done. Pull these out of the oven, oh they look beautiful. I think they look better than chicken nuggets wouldn’t you say? They do look good. Okay good thank you. Alright so now we’ve already plated up our broccoli salad here on the plate. Do you think it looks delicious? I think it does I think it does too. I think the students really like, I think in general people like the creamy sauce thing and that is a great melding of flavors, and I was surprised but it was very, very good. I wouldn’t normally put broccoli and beans together but it works well here. Yeah, absolutely. Okay and it goes well with the fish tacos. Kind of the theme. Okay and so what we’re going to do is we’re going to create a fish taco for K through 8 and then the nine through 12 is a little bit different. The nine through twelve will get two fish tacos, and they get two fish sticks in each taco to make up the appropriate grain and meat equivalents and vegetables. But with the K through eight they’re going to get three sticks a piece in their tortilla here, and then they get a quarter cup of cabbage and then they’re going to get a quarter cup of tomatoes and then we’re going to garnish here with the green onions that we know that they love. And there’s our little taco and they have the salsa on the side here. And then you don’t want to forget the lime on the side. And one thing that we did is we kind of went around and educated the students about squeezing the lime on top and then like I said before, we added the sauce on the side but the kids didn’t really know what to do with it and so I would recommend maybe doing it on the line if you can. We had just put it on the bar in a little pour bottle and let them do it themselves and they had just put it on the side themselves and so we just want to encourage them to put the sauce on there because it tastes so delicious. That is quite a huge portion, it’s a huge taco. I know but they’re getting all their vegetables. Look at all the vegetables on this tray, we have the broccoli and then you get your legume with a salad and then all of the vegetables and the students didn’t seem to mind the cabbage at all with a fish taco. Now we’ve talked about giving out samples and we do have another resource that we developed for all of these meals. Can you talk about a little bit about the marketing flyers? Yes, so each of these meals have a marketing flyer on the website, the Idaho Department of Education’s website, that you can print off and it talks about that these are chef design meals and I highly encourage you to use those because chefs are gaining a lot of celebrity status and when the kids think that a chef has developed a recipe for them they get really excited. So I encourage you, you can even call it a chef Tuesday, you could wear a chef coat, and feature some of these recipes that were developed by a chef and market it that way. Absolutely, and what our test school did is they printed off several copies of these fliers, hung them up all around the school, had signs out on the school and the kids really got excited. And once they tried one or two of chef Brenda’s dishes it was much much easier. They were already willing participants before they even saw or tasted the food. Absolutely, so once again just to wrap everything up, there is you know quite a bit of prep and there are a few sauces in this dish so what tips do you have for those schools? So I think like we said before, you definitely probably want to start some of this the day ahead of time for two reasons. One that it’s going to make the day of service a lot more smooth, and then also it’s going to enhance the flavors. So if you can make the sauces especially the day ahead of time and then marinate those beans a day ahead of time you’re going to get a really nice flavor profile with this meal. Wonderful. Once again this has been another chef designed school lunch cooking demonstration with Chef Brenda. You did a great job. Thanks! Thank you so much Ed.