We challenged Edwin Mateo, executive chef at the SolToro Tequila Grill at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino, to serve up a delicious, three-course holiday feast for four on our "Chef on a Shoestring" budget of only $35.
Sol Torro is a contemporary Mexican restaurant, and its Web site says Mateo is known for "blending a deep understanding of Mexican cuisine with a deft hand for modern interpretation."
He specializes in traditional Mexican street food, home-style specialties and fresh guacamole.
On the menu on Saturday: Corn & Avocado Salad, Beer-Battered Fish Tacos, and Fried Ice Cream with a Tequila Honey Syrup.
Mateo also joined out "How Low Can You Go" competition, in which the "shoestring" chef with the lowest ingredients cost in 2009 will be invited back to cook up our whammo end-of-year holiday meal!
Mahi Mahi: Also known as dolphin-fish or dorado, calitos, maverikos or lampuki. Mahi-Mahi tastes similar to flounder, tilapia, or any other whitefish.
Avocado Corn Salad
1 cup black beans, cooked
1/2 cup red onion
2 ears roasted corn, kernels cut from cob
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 red pepper, roasted and diced
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 habanero pepper
In a mixing bowl add cooked beans, chopped red onion, roasted corn kernels, chopped cilantro and roasted red pepper.
Next, make a simple vinaigrette by pureeing oil, vinegar and chopped habanero. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Finally cut the avocados in half, remove the pit, and fill them with your roasted salad mix.
Beer-Battered Mahi Mahi Tacos
1-1/2 pounds Mahi Mahi
1 pound white cabbage
2 cups chopped cilantro
3/4 cup lime juice
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 bottle Corona beer
1 red onion
1/2 gallon vegetable oil
2 plum tomatoes
1/2 white onion
4 white corn tortillas
Pickled Red Onion:
Julienne the red onion, add lime and mix with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit overnight
Beer-Battered Mahi Mahi:
Cut the fish into 2-inch strips and refrigerate.
To make the beer batter, mix all of the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, kosher salt and paprika. Then add in the Corona and mix until all of the ingredients are completely combined.
Mix 1/2 cup flour with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large pot to 350°F. Dredge the fish in the seasoned flour, then add into the beer batter and fry in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes and set aside.
Warm the tortillas by resting each in the sauté pan and flip until warm and soft on each side.
Next make the spiked lime cabbage. Julienne the white cabbage and add 1 ¼ cup chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice. Mix well, check for seasoning, and set aside.
For the pico de gallo, dice the plum tomatoes, white onion and jalapenos. Add lime juice chopped cilantro and check for seasoning.
To assemble the dish, fill the warm tortillas with the spiked lime cabbage, fried mahi mahi and finish with the pico de gallo and pickled red onion. Garnish with 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and lime wedges.