blacktip shark tacos

WaterLine photo by Chef Tim Spain

A trio of shark tacos, ready to serve — yummy!

So, I haven’t offered a shark recipe yet, and I thought I’d see what I could come up with. As far as catching goes, I’ve only ever hooked into one blacktip shark and it was on the sandbar where I like to fish. The shark wasn’t very big, but it was a good fight. When I finally got it to the surface and saw that it was a shark, I was glad it broke off because I was fishing from my kayak. The shark made a couple of good runs before it decided to let me start to control where it was going.

In the past I haven’t been a fan of shark, but I hadn’t cooked fresh shark before. There is a huge difference. I think that previously frozen shark tastes a little too strong for people who are used to eating fish like snapper or grouper. I was expecting to taste those same flavors with the fresh shark, but I have to say I was impressed with the flavor and texture.

I was glad I had a couple of pieces — I overcooked the first one, because I cooked it like swordfish and left it on the grill too long. The steaks I had were about an inch thick and I thought they would take about 3 minutes on each side and it should be fine.

Wrong. I found out that I should have cooked it like tuna, because it cooks pretty fast. It actually was done after being on the grill for 90 seconds per side during the second attempt.

After I figured out how to cook the shark, I wondered what I’d do with it now. The first thing that came to mind was tacos. Who doesn’t like fish tacos? Just about every restaurant on or near the water around here has fish tacos of some sort on the menu, so they must be popular.

Recently Lauren and I went up to Jacksonville. On the way, I saw groves full of oranges that were just about ripe, and I remembered that when I was thinking about what to put with my tacos. I thought some kind of salsa with orange segments in it might be the way to go. I didn’t have any fresh oranges on hand like I’d seen hanging in the trees along S.R. 70 — but I did have mandarin oranges in a can, and they are already segmented.

I grabbed the usual suspects that I use to make pico de gallo plus a couple small cans of the Mandarins, and I began to chop.

After the salsa was finished, I put it back in the cooler to get it nice and cold. I wanted to have a little crunch in my tacos, and shredded cabbage is the way to go. Just use raw, thinly sliced cabbage and then dress it with your favorite sauce. If you’ve read my columns before, you know I like my aiolis so, cilantro aioli was what I decided to make. Its just like the other ones I make, with cilantro added to it while it’s in the food processor.

I went with flour tortillas, but corn tortillas would be fine too if you prefer them or have a problem with gluten. I hope you try my shark tacos. I have to say, if I had a constant source of fresh blacktip shark, I would have it on the menu.

Chef Tim Spain is a Florida native and has years of experience cooking professionally, both in restaurants and in private settings. He offers private catering and personal culinary classes. For more info, visit ChefTimSpain.com or call 406-580-1994.

Blacktip Tacos

1 pound fresh blacktip shark steak

1 tbsp Everglades Heat seasoning

12 6-inch flour tortillas

2 cups shredded cabbage

Salsa

1-1/2 cups strained mandarin orange segments

1/2 cup diced tomato

1/4 cup diced red onion

1 tbsp diced fresh jalapeños

1 tsp fresh chopped garlic

Juice and zest of one lime

1 tsp fresh chopped cilantro

Aioli

1 cup mayo

3 cloves fresh garlic

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Juice and zest of one lime

Make the salsa first by folding all the salsa ingredients together in a bowl, then place it in the refrigerator. Next make the aioli: Place all the aioli ingredients in your food processor and blend until smooth. Season the shark with the Everglades Heat, grill the shark on high heat for 1.5 minutes per side. While the shark is on the grill, spray your tortillas with pan spray and grill each side of the tortillas for about 30 seconds. After the shark and tortillas are finished, place a small bed of the cabbage on each tortilla then lightly dress it with the aioli. Slice the cooked shark and evenly place it on the cabbage, followed by the salsa. Place three tacos on each plate and enjoy. Serves 4.

— Recipe by Chef Tim Spain, ChefTimSpain.com

Chef Tim Spain is a Florida native and has years of experience cooking professionally, both in restaurants and in private settings. He offers private catering and personal culinary classes. For more info, visit ChefTimSpain.com or call 406-580-1994.

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