Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - April 30, 2008
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Dixie Grill's Cinco de Mayo special fish tacos
Dixie Grill’s Cinco de Mayo special fish tacos

Many people think Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, but it actually commemorates the victory of the Mexicans over the French in an 1867 battle. The holiday is celebrated more here in the United States than in Mexico, and it’s popular across the U.S. South and Southwest, especially where the motto is “any excuse to party.”

That might explain why Ed Wary is pulling out all the stops at Dixie Grill in Aiea to make May 5 special for the crowd that enjoys eating and partying at his barbecue and crab shack overlooking Pearl Harbor. In his typical fashion, he’s extended the festivities to start Friday, May 2, so there’s no excuse not to come in!

“We are not only combining some Southern flavors into traditional dishes, but also are presenting some ‘real’ Cinco traditions not found here in Hawaii usually, such as sangrita, and chili rellenos made from fresh-roasted chilies,” said Ed.

In keeping with the Cinco de Mayo theme, Dixie Grill will have an array of special dishes sure to please, ranging from pulled pork and fresh fish tacos to chili rellenos, green chili quesadillas, and steak and shrimp fajitas. There’s even a dessert created with the holiday in mind: Chocolate Taquitos Helad, with three rolled tortillas filled with chocolate and a touch of hazel-nut, served with vanilla bean ice cream. And yes, chocolate is a major ingredient in Mexican cooking!

Try the following spicy recipe for your Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Over the years, catfish evolved from its traditional status as a fried Southern food, and today restaurants nationwide serve U.S. farm-raised catfish broiled, baked, grilled and in a number of other ways. Catfish has a fresh, mild taste and firm texture, which has taken it from what was once considered a Southern delicacy to a popular choice at dinner tables nationwide.

This catfish recipe may be doubled and is also great served with your favorite salsa for an alternative to the higher-fat smoked tomato tartar sauce.


From D Dixie G Grill Bar-B-Que & & C Crab SShack

* 6-ounce catfish filet, in two pieces

* 2 tablespoons blackening spice

* 2 ounces cole slaw

* 2 ounces Smoked Tomato Tartar Sauce (recipe below)

* 1 sprig cilantro

Season catfish with spice and blacken in pan for approximately 2 minutes on each side. Top the catfish with tartar sauce and garnish with cilantro. Serve with cole slaw and Creole rice or grits. May be garnished with parsley and dry rub as well.

For Smoked Tomato Tartar Sauce:

* 6 tomatoes

* 3 jalapenos

* 1 yellow onion, sliced in half

* 3 cups tartar sauce (Dixie Grill makes its own, but you can buy in a jar)

*11/2 tablespoons chopped parsley

* 2 tablespoons liquid smoke

* 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (may use less for lower sodium)

* 1 tablespoon Dixie Hot Sauce (you can buy at Dixie Grill or use your favorite)

Place tomatoes, jalapenos and onions in smoker or pan. Smoke for 45 minutes at 190 degrees; remove from smoker and let cool. Remove skin from the tomatoes and squeeze the juice and seeds from them. Remove the seeds and skins from jalapenos. Dice tomatoes, jalapenos and onions. Place in mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well incorporated.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving (fish only, no sauce):

Calories: 180
Fat: 8 grams
Cholesterol: 75 milligrams
Sodium: 190 milligrams (depending on how much salt is used)


(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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