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South of the Border cuisine – with a twist

By: Gopal K. Kapur Special to The Press-Tribune
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This month’s recipes are a creative twist on the routine Mexican fare. The taco recipe uses fresh corn, omega-3 rich salmon and nutritious black beans; the pancakes are quick to prepare, full of flavors and delightfully crunchy. The pancakes can be served as a side dish or as an after-school snack. Salmon, fresh corn and black bean soft tacos Serves 4 to 6 1 lb salmon (preferably wild), skinned, boned, cut into 1-inch pieces 1 lime, juiced 1 teaspoon chili powder ½ teaspoon cumin, crushed ½ teaspoon taco seasoning ½ teaspoon chipotle pepper marinade 1 fresh ear of corn 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided ½ cup yellow onion, diced 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained 1 cup ripe tomatoes, cored and diced 1 medium avocado, peeled and diced 1 cup fresh greens (spinach, romaine lettuce, or cabbage), thinly shredded 1 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced ½ cup salsa of choice ½ cup sour cream, low fat ½ cup grated cheese of your choice ½ cup cilantro, minced 8 to 12 corn and/or flour tortillas, warmed Cooking spray In a bowl, combine salmon, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, taco seasoning and chipotle marinade. Stir to coat salmon. Set aside. Remove husk and silk from the corn, hold the corn vertically, with the flat side resting on the work surface, slide a sharp knife down the length and slice off the kernels, repeat until all kernels are removed. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat; add corn kernels and diced onion and fry, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add black beans, stir, and cook for 3 minutes. Remove to a plate. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil in the same pan over medium heat; add the seasoned salmon and about 2 tablespoons of water and cook, turning gently, for 3 minutes. Add the cooked vegetable mixture to the pan, turn to mix, and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes depending on the desired doneness of salmon. Serve tomatoes, avocado, greens, onion, salsa, sour cream, cheese, cilantro and salmon mixture on a large platter or in separate bowls. Have everyone assemble their own tacos using the tortillas. Corn, zucchini and cilantro pancakes Makes about 10 pancakes 1 fresh ear of corn 1¼ cup yellow cornmeal ½ cup whole wheat flour 1 teaspoon chili powder ½ teaspoon chipotle marinade, dry ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed ¼ teaspoon salt 1 egg white 1 cup low fat buttermilk ¼ cup water 1 green chili, split, seeded and minced ¼ cup cilantro, minced 1 cup Mexican zucchini, grated, well squeezed ½ cup onion, grated, well squeezed 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds, coarsely ground 2 tablespoons canola oil, preferably expeller Cooking spray 1 lime, quartered ½ cup low fat sour cream ¼ cup minced tomato 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced Remove husk and silk from the corn, hold the corn vertically, with the flat side resting on the work surface, slide a sharp knife down the length and slice off the kernels, repeat until all kernels are removed. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a skillet over medium heat and stir fry the kernels for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside to cool. In large bowl, combine cornmeal, wheat flour, chili powder, chipotle marinade, cumin seeds and salt; stir well. In a blender, combine corn kernels, egg white, buttermilk, water, green chili and cilantro, and process to a smooth paste. Add the mixture to dry ingredients, stir well. Add zucchini, onion, and pumpkin seeds; stir well and let the batter rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Heat a heavy bottom large skillet over medium heat, brush the surface evenly with oil. Lightly coat with cooking spray and form three to four pancakes by dropping ¼ or 1/3 cup batter. Gently press the batter with the back of a spoon to form a round pancake about ½ thick. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove and keep warm. Repeat to cook the remaining pancakes. To serve, garnish each pancake with a squeeze of lime, dab of sour cream, a teaspoon of diced tomato and garnish with cilantro. Enjoy. – Gopal Kapur, founder and president of the Center for Project Management, consults, writes and educates in both the public and private sector as a noted authority on project management. He is also trained in various styles of cooking, and writes monthly for The Press-Tribune. He can be reached at gopalkapur@whentastematters.com