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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Eating Out + Eating In: Tacos with sides, Costco's fresh fish case gets a little wilder

The Mahi-Mahi Tacos at Rosa Mexicano in Hackensack are stuffed with cabbage escabeche, grilled fish and a jalapeno-tartar sauce, and served with sides of cheesy corn salad, achiote rice and black beans. The name of the dish has been changed to Pescado a la Parilla.



The appeal of hand-held food is universal, but I'm not about to promote the mystery meat in the vast majority of hot dogs and hamburgers.

In fact, my ideal is the Mexican-style fish taco, preferably made with a fresh, wild-caught fillet; chopped cilantro and onion; and a couple of spicy salsas to add between bites.

On Tuesday, I met my friend Arthur for lunch at Rosa Mexicano, the fine-dining restaurant in Hackensack where just about everything is made from scratch.

That includes scrumptious handmade corn tortillas formed, pressed and grilled in the beautiful dining room.

Fish tacos

Rosa Mexicano serves a deluxe version of the basic fish taco, Pescado de Mahi Mahi, three tacos stuffed with grilled white fish, white cabbage escabeche and jalapeno-tartar sauce ($15).

But that's not all. You also get three sides: A cheesy corn salad, achiote rice and black beans, all of which I took home.

The Baja-style tacos were delicious and filling, but next time, I'll ask the kitchen to make each taco with two corn tortillas instead of one.

And they are a better deal (and come without the side dishes) when ordered as part of the Chef's Lunch, two courses for $20 served Mondays to Fridays.

On the Chef's Lunch menu, look for Baja Fish Tacos, which are made with beer-battered and fried seasonal fish, though I imagine you can still get them with grilled fish.

My friend Arthur ordered the two-course lunch for $20, starting with a Mexican Passion Fruit Shrimp Cocktail (shrimp, avocado, tomato, onions, cucumber, cilantro and passion-fruit cocktail sauce), above. His second course was a large Ensalada de Waldorf, a Mexican take on an American classic (apples, seasonal fruit, raisins, candied pepitas, marinated chicken and crema agave dressing), and he took most of it home to finish at dinner.
A generous serving of complimentary corn chips and salsa were addictive.
Handmade corn tortillas are formed, pressed and grilled in the dining room, which is filled with Mexican pottery, textiles and sconces, below.
Part of the main dining room at Rosa Mexicano, which also has seating in a smaller dining room and in a large barroom.


Rosa Mexicano, 390 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack (in the Shops at Riverside mall); 1-201-489-9100.

Website: Authentic flavors of Mexico

Fresh, wild Ocean Perch was only $5.49 a pound at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro this week. At home, I poured most of a 16-ounce jar of 365 Everyday Value Roasted Salsa Verde from Whole Foods Market into a pan; added sliced onion, garlic and lemon juice; and brought the mixture to a boil before adding the small skin-on fillets, and covering the pan. The fish poached in 5 minutes.
A pan of Costco's fresh wild Monk Fish prepared with fresh spinach, tomatoes, pitted black olives, capers, grated cheese, fresh herbs and fresh lemon juice. When cooked (20 minutes in a preheated 400-degree oven), monk fish puffs up and has the texture of lobster.

At Costco, a wilder fish case

In May, Costco Wholesale members in Teterboro were surprised and delighted to find fresh wild Monk Fish fillets in a refrigerated case that usually contains only wild cod, haddock and flounder.

This week, instead of Monk Fish, my wife found shrink-wrapped trays of fresh wild Ocean Perch, also called Red Fish.

And it looks like the Ocean Perch and Monk Fish are the consolation prizes as this year's fresh wild Alaskan salmon season is getting off to a rough start, just as it did last year.

Sockeye Salmon from Alaska's Copper River usually shows up in Costco warehouses in late May or early June, but the catch is far below last season's.

Lyle French, the fresh-seafood buyer at Costco headquarters in Issaquah, Wash., said he was able to send some Copper River sockeye fillets to warehouses on the West Coast and in Virginia.

He couldn't predict when fresh wild sockeye salmon will arrive in New Jersey.

On Costco's Facebook page today, one member in Michigan posted a video of fresh wild sockeye salmon from the Copper River that was selling for $16.99 a pound.

The season opened on May 18 at the Copper River.


Costco Wholesale, 2 Teterboro Landing Drive, Teterboro (in the shopping center off of Route 46); 1-201-596-2001

Website: Teterboro Warehouse