Yesterday I had a terrible, exhausting afternoon. This of course means that I desperately wanted all the food in the land, particularly all the instant food in the land, and in fact detoured on the way home to spend a half hour wandering around the store looking at said food. For instance, I stood around in the freezer aisle thinking about frozen burritos, while at home I had a full pot of ALREADY BOILED, READY black beans sitting in the refrigerator just waiting to become way better burritos.
I have no idea how my common sense won that argument, but it did. Instead of frozen burritos, I went home with a filet of red snapper and some olives.
Then, for some reason, it was time to engage in yet more work and 1. make refried beans 2. sear snapper for 3. FISH TACOS.
This batch of refried beans went by standard procedure. Saute chopped onion, garlic, jalapeno and poblano in oil with lots of cumin; add half-drained pan of black beans, mashed roughly with spoon; bring saute pan to a simmer; cook until things are the correct texture, adding water if necessary. I hardly drained off any bean liquid, so I didn't have to add any water. In fact, I had to cook off a lot of water before the beans weren't totally sloppy and liquid. That was ok, though. Refrieds can cook for a long time; they only get better.
While things were cooking down, I did all the other prep. I also read a bunch of Narbonic and had a martini that was really just an excuse to eat five olives soaked in gin. Then I felt better.
Prep: whatever you like for tacos, plus fish business.
For tacos: I whacked and chopped a lime, shredded some totally inauthentic mozzarella cheese, stuck some tortillas in the oven to warm, and slivered up some cabbage. I also took the salsa out of the refrigerator: shockingly difficult!
For fish: I stuck a couple handfuls of flour in a wide pan and seasoned it with cumin, salt, pepper, and a little cayenne.
When the refrieds were the right texture, i.e. pretty thick and full of bean chunks, I started on the fish. Fish is only good when totally searing hot, as you clearly know, so it was important to have everything else absolutely ready to go.
First, set a frying pan over hot heat. While it's getting good and hot, try and remove any obvious pinbones from the fish. If you can't, whatever; you can pick them out after it's cooked. Then roll your fish in the seasoned flour, getting a faint powdery coating on all surfaces.
Is the pan hot? Do the drop of water test, if you feel like it (the drop should sizzle away instantly), or hold your hand over the pan to see.
Drop a chunk of butter in the pan. It should hiss. Quickly tilt the pan and get melted butter on every available surface. As soon as all the butter is melted, put in your fish. It should hiss as well. Squirt some lime juice over the fish and give it maybe 3 to 5 minutes. Cooking time here depends on the thickness of your fish; I would say that as soon as it turns opaque around the edges, it's time to flip. Cook on the other side just until fish is all opaque and flakeable with appropriate spatula. Then immediately get it out of the pan, break it into nice chunks (removing bones if necessary), and build some tacos.
You know how to build tacos. Take warm tortilla and fill with beans, fish, cabbage, cheese, and salsa, plus more lime. Eat it as hot and awesome as possible. Make another and eat that one as well. Fish does not keep! You must have it all!
If I had been feeling less taco-y and more, say, Mediterranean, I would totally have ended up making this fish just as a seared fillet with salt and pepper, and topping it with a green olive, garlic, tomato, and white wine sauce. Lemon instead of lime. You clearly need something else to fill out that meal, though, unless you are inordinately fond of fish and make a ton of it. Hm. Gigantic salad?