My favorite way to entertain on the cheap is to make fish tacos.
I coerce my friends to bring snacks to munch on as I cook: chips, salsa and guacamole are a natural match. And I have them bring a little cold Mexican beer (such as Corona or Negro Modelo) to sip. And I charge one or two people with bringing a really simple dessert like cookies or brownies to eat afterwards. These folks are almost always willing to oblige, since they’re getting a full dinner out of the deal.
I then commence to put on the easiest and most satisfying dinner party ever. Fish tacos
are a perfect summer dish and an easy favorite, doable even for non-expert cooks. On the side, you can serve rice, beans and a refreshing fennel slaw—all just as easy as the tacos. As a bonus, the ingredients aren’t tough to source, or all that expensive. You can feed six to eight people this way for 25 clams or so.
Here’s what you’ll need:
20 Old El Paso® tortillas
2 large tilapia fillets
4 tsp chili powder, divided
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, half minced, half sliced thinly
1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 carrots, shredded
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped, divided
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 limes (1 juiced, 1 cut into wedges)
3 oz. crumbled cotija cheese
1/2 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
And here’s what you’ll do with it:
Do all your vegetable prep—slicing and dicing your cabbage, fennel, carrots, etc—before your friends come, and preheat your oven to 250 degrees. When your friends start to arrive, wrap the stack of tortillas tightly in foil and place the bundle in the oven until you’re ready to eat.
Sprinkle the fish on both sides with half the chili powder and plenty of salt and pepper (you can also do this before your guests get in, and stash it in the fridge till you’re ready). Heat some olive oil in a cast-iron pan or grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the fish on both sides until golden brown on the outside and firm and flaky on the inside. Break the cooked fish into pieces and keep in a covered baking dish in the warm oven, along with the tortillas.
Combine the rice and 3 1/2 cups water with the remaining chili powder, chopped onion and garlic in a medium pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Fluff the rice with a fork and season with salt and pepper to taste.
While the rice is cooking, put the beans on to heat, either with a little water in a microwave or in a small pot over medium heat.
Finally, make the slaw: Toss the cabbage, fennel, carrot, half the cilantro, rice vinegar, lime juice and a tablespoon of olive oil together in a serving bowl.
Set out the warm tortillas and the fish, along with the sides. Have your guests assemble their own tacos, garnished with a little slaw, the remaining cilantro, cheese and sour cream, perhaps with a squeeze of lime. Serve additional slaw on the side along with the rice and beans.
If fish isn't your thing, or want other offerings, check out this Taco Party
post by coutureparties
. It may be a little more than a $25 party budget, but you'll find more great ideas for your taco fiesta with friends!
Spicy Sides & Fixin's
Here are some more sides and fixings that will spice up your taco dinner and are a snap to make:
What’s your favorite inexpensive dinner party dish?