Greetings (And Recipes) From Nicaragua!

Marilyn Schlossbach, the noted Shore restaurateur is wintering in Nicaragua, where she is surfing and volunteering with Waves For Water, a nonprofit that helps provide clean water for communities in need. We spoke with her by phone.

Marilyn Schlossbach
Marilyn Schlossbach
Photo: Marc Steiner

Our pretext for calling was simple, if hokey.  National Margarita Day is February 22nd, followed by National Tortilla Chip Day on the 24th,

In the midst of this wicked winter, these holidays, however bogus, loom like ports in a storm. Schlossbach (owner of Labrador Lounge, Langosta Lounge, Pop’s Garage, Asbury Park Yacht Club, Lightly Salted and Libby’s Beach Shack), happens to know a lot about tacos and tequilas, the active ingredient in a margarita. So we asked her what she likes about them.

“You can put just about anything in a tortilla,” the self-taught chef said. “It doesn’t have to be traditional.”

Her favorite combo combines white beans with kale and garlic Her twin 2 ½ year-old daughters prefer peanut butter and jelly tacos.

During her stay in Nicaragua, she has been marinating fish and seafood in a margarita-like mix for her fish tacos.

“You can do a Thai taco, Chilean, Indian," she said. "It’s really just a vessel for whatever you love, and I like to get adventurous."

Schlossbach has traveled the world in search of great surfing. Her hejira has exposed her to many of the world’s warm-climate cuisines.

She came to realize that the generic U.S.-style taco was a far cry from the delectable filled tortillas served at roadside stands throughout Latin America.

Lack of refrigeration in many hot climates explains why “there’s usually not a ton of cheese involved." 

Is that a negative?

Actually, she said, "It’s a much cleaner taste."

One of her favorites is taco al pastor, somewhat like a Middle-Eastern gyro. Chili-marinated pork is roasted on a spit with pineapple and onion, then is sliced, stuffed into a corn tortilla and served with a condiment of jalapeno, garlic, carrots and onions pickled in vinegar.

Although she serves both corn and flour tortillas at her restaurants, Schlossbach finds corn to be more flavorful. It has the added advantage of being gluten-free.

Both types can be served soft or made crispy by deep-frying or pan-frying.

“At home," she said, "when you are not making a thousand of them, the easiest thing to do is just lay a tortilla directly over the burner to heat and crisp."

Margaritas, she said, are just as adaptable.

“People don’t realize that tequilas have various flavor profiles, depending on the barrel they are aged in and where they come from," Schlossbach said. "In Mexico, they take tequila very seriously.".

Schlossbach shies away from the insipidly sweet margarita popular in the U.S. Her “Langostarita” is made with agave syrup, lime and ruby red grapefruit juice for a more refreshing taste. For more variety and adventure she will mix in watermelon, fresh pineapple and even hot peppers.

Her aim, she said, “is to go to the core of a culture, see how it is traditionally made, and go from there."

Schlossbach offers these winter warmers…

:
POP’S GARAGE SMASHED PINEAPPLE & JALEPENO MARGARITAS

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

1/2 to 1 whole jalapeño diced (depending on size and taste)
1/2 c. diced fresh pineapple
9 oz. reposed tequila
6 oz. fresh lime juice
6 oz. agave nectar
12 oz. hot water

TO MAKE THE MARGARITA MIX:

Mix last 3 ingredients in a separate container. Let cool.

DIRECTIONS:

1. In large pitcher, muddle diced jalapeño and pineapple.
2. Once the Margarita Mix is cooled, add tequila and the margarita mix to the pineapple and jalapeno. Stir well.
3. Fill glasses with ice and pour.
4. Add a garnish such as a lime or pineapple slice or the top of a jalapeño to fit over the rim of the glass.

MARGARITA-MARINATED FISH TACOS

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. Mahi Mahi, marinated in margarita marinade
1 oz. Blanco tequila
1 oz. agave
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. ruby red grapefruit juice
Salt
2 c. shredded lettuce
1 c. cotija cheese
2 c. grilled pineapple

DIRECTIONS

1. Marinate fish for one hour in tequila, agave, lime and grapefruit juices.
2. Grill fish until cooked
3. Flake into bite size pieces
4. Stuff fish into hard or soft tortilla shells. Top with lettuce, cotija cheese and grilled pineapple and enjoy!

GARLIC SHRIMP TACOS

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. cleaned 31/35 shrimp, tail off
4 ea. sliced garlic clove
1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
½ cup chopped chorizo
2-3 oz. Alvier sherry (or dry sherry)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 ea. lemon, juice
2 c. shredded lettuce
1 c. coria cheese
2 c. grilled pineapple

DIRECTIONS

1. In a heavy-bottom pan warm olive oil on medium heat.
2. Add chorizo, garlic, red pepper.
3. Sauté for about one minute or until just brown. Take care not to burn garlic.
4. Turn up heat; add shrimp, lemon juice, sherry and paprika.
5. Cook until shrimp are pink and firm, about three minutes. Finish with parsley and check for seasoning.
6. Stuff shrimp into hard or soft tortilla shells. Top with lettuce, guacaverde, coria cheese and grilled pineapple.

GUACAVERDE

Makes 1 quart
Will keep in the fridge about 5 days

INGREDIENTS

10 tomatillos
1 ounce of sugar
Jalapeno, to taste
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 bunch of cilantro
2 ripe avocados

DIRECTIONS:

1. Boil tomatillos in water until soft
2. Drain and cool
3. Add all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

RUBY RICE
Makes 6 cups

INGREDIENTS

2 cups of white rice
1/2 cup of plum tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/4 big onion
Pinch of sea salt
2 cups of water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 ounce of oil
2 cups of water
1 ounce of chicken or vegetable broth

DIRECTIONS

1. Wash the rice in warm water until the water is clear.
2. Grind the tomatoes, onion and garlic in a blender.
3. Add salt and sugar.
4. Heat the oil and fry the rice in a pot for about 20 minutes until it’s browned with oil.
5. Add blended tomatoes and put the water at low heat.
6. Allow to simmer until the rice is cooked. When it has no liquid, it’s ready!

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