When I was thrust into the World Food Championships stage back in 2013, I thought I knew everything, and upon arrival at registration, quickly learned that I knew nothing. I was poorly prepared, out-classed, and a nervous wreck. Even with all that, I did pretty well. I discovered that my Excel spreadsheet obsession had me more prepared than I realized, 32+ years of cooking gave me more training that I knew, and the easily accessed margarita on Fremont Street eased my nerves better than any pep talk. In the end, a school teacher from a small town in central Florida made the top 10 in the World Dessert Championships and was invited back for the next year’s competition.
When I arrived in Vegas for the 2014 WFC, I was a completely different person. I had my “ship” together, as Mona Pants would say. No one made fun of my Excel spreadsheet obsession of ingredient lists and timelines. No one could question my training. No one scoffed at my noontime margarita. No, this time around, I knew what I was doing, and to my surprise, I could help someone else.
Enter Kim Banick…
At hotel registration on the first day, I couldn’t help but notice a lady, who was, obviously, completely new to WFC. She chatted with people in line. She told everyone about the competition and her qualifying entry. She glowed with excitement. I’ve never been one to insert myself into other conversations (or even speak to people I don’t know), so luckily, I have friends and family who do it for me (it’s very convenient). By the time we left the hotel that day, my stepmom had met, befriended, and introduced me to the excited WFC newbie from the registration line.
Somehow, my reluctancy to speak to people faded and I found myself talking with Kim, giving her tips, and trying to help her in any way possible. For me, that was completely out of my comfort zone, but talking to Kim was just SOOOO easy.
Fast forward to 2017, we still see each other at WFC events and the Food Wine Conference for food bloggers, I still call Kim a friend, and she’s still the most incredibly easy-to-talk-to person I’ve ever met. Oh…and did I mention that she makes a killer fish taco????
Kim Banick’s Aloha Lava Fish Taco
4-6 ounces Halibut Fillets
2 tablespoons Ghee (clarified butter)
3 scallions (green onions)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1” piece of ginger plus 1¼ tsp, peeled, grated and divided
1 tablespoon soy sauce (Tamari for gluten free option)
1 ½ cups corn masa flour
1 cup Water
2 ½ cups mango, chopped (approx. 2 mangoes)
½ cup red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, stem, seeds and membranes removed then finely minced
2 tsp honey
2 fresh limes, some to squeeze for juice and some for garnish
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 ½ tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
1 bunch of cilantro, divided
½ small head purple cabbage, finely shredded
Canola Oil for frying tortillas
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Begin the tortillas: Mix together the corn masa and the water with 1/8 teaspoon of salt for about two minutes until you form a soft dough. If dough feels dry, add teaspoons of water, one at a time. Divide dough into 12 equal balls. Cover with a damp towel and set aside.
- Making mango salsa: Peel and dice the fresh mango to measure 2 ½ cups. Add the jalapeno, red onion, honey, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, ¼ teaspoon fresh grated ginger, 1/8 teaspoon of salt and lime juice from ½ squeezed lime. Stir all of the salsa ingredients until well mixed and set aside.
- Shred the purple stuff: Thinly slice and shred the purple cabbage with a mandoline slicer or a knife. Set aside.
- Make the lava sauce: Mix together mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, ½ teaspoon salt, Sriracha hot sauce and 1 tablespoon squeezed lime juice. Pour into a squeeze bottle, set aside for topping the tacos.
- Spread for the Halibut: In the food processor blend until finely minced; scallions, garlic cloves, 1 inch grated ginger and soy sauce.
- Heat that oil: In a deep skillet, heat 1 inch of canola oil over medium high to fry the tortillas.
- Time to cook the Halibut: In a large skillet add the ghee and heat over medium high. Season each fillet with salt and black pepper. Cook the halibut fillets on one side for 5-7 minutes. Turn the fillets and spread with the scallion mixture. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. When fully cooked, gently flake halibut apart and squeeze ½ fresh lime over the halibut. Set aside for filling the tacos.
- Fry those wonderful tortillas: One tortilla at a time, using a tortilla press, place each ball between the two sheets of plastic and press until each tortilla measures 5-6 inches in diameter. Place raw tortilla in hot oil, fry for 20 seconds and turn. While the tortilla fries, fold the tortilla in half with the help of a metal spatula and tongs. Fry until the tortilla is golden brown. Drain and place on a paper towel. Continue to fry all 12 tortillas.
- Time to put it together: Take a fried tortilla, fill it with some of the halibut, top it with a scoop of salsa, spread the shredded cabbage on and top it with the lava sauce and fresh cilantro leaves. Enjoy!
About Kim Banick
Kim is first a wife, mother of four daughters and a grandma of two grandsons. She has taken her hobby of entering cooking/recipe contests to a higher level by starting a food blog, The Prize of Cooking, where she shares her recipes and food journey. By cooking her way to a Golden Ticket, she has competed the last three years at the World Food Championships as well as other national competitions. During the last two years, Kim was named the Grand Food Champ for two recipe contests and competed as a regional finalist in a game day tailgating cook-off and a chili cook-off. This year, Kim has been chosen as a Brand Ambassador for the Orlando Florida Food Wine Conference by Sunday Supper Movement and has sealed her return to the 2017 World Food Championship in Orange Beach, Alabama where she will be competing again in the seafood category. When Kim is not in the kitchen cooking for her own family or preparing a competitive dish, she assists adults with disabilities to prepare meals.