For the lucky people who live or work in the Hutton Centre area of Santa…
Have you tried Spike’s Fish House yet?
Normally, I don’t write about fast/casual concepts because they don’t fit in with my heart healthy focus. But when I finally tried Spike’s Fish House – unfortunately, there’s not one near Huntington Beach, so it took me awhile, I was really impressed with the freshness of the fish, the overall quality of all the ingredients, and high healthy quotient in everything I tried. The lettuce wrap photo (above) received a bunch of likes and comments when I posted it on Facebook – today’s equivalent of a successful micro test market blitz
Spike’s is a simple fast-casual concept that revolves around offering a great selection of fish that’s simply grilled for every order. There aren’t any secret recipes – just fresh fish that’s simply grilled and served with the best ingredients to deliver great food, at a great price, while maintaining responsible practices.
Unlike most fast-casual concepts in the area, Spike’s Fish House prides itself on displaying its fresh fish, and allowing guests to view it being grilled from an open display kitchen. The restaurant’s specialty is a Fish House Plate that features a ½ pound of a grilled fish, such as Tilapia “panko style” or fresh Salmon, with a choice of white or brown rice, and seasonal vegetables, all chopped and sautéed fresh.
Guests may select from Spike’s popular fish options, including Tilapia “panko style,” Wild Salmon, Basa, Snapper, Yellow Tail, Swordfish, Ahi, and Mahi Mahi; and choose to enjoy their fish between the bun as a slider; in a corn or flour tortilla as a taco; with white or brown rice in a bowl; or as a healthy lettuce wrap. Those who prefer a non-seafood option can enjoy fresh, grilled all-white meat chicken.
Spike’s house-made sauces, offered on the side with every menu item, are made from scratch in-house and include Spike’s Sauce (Greek yogurt and smoked paprika), Poke Sauce (sesame oil, ginger, and soy sauce), Chimichurri (fresh parsley, lemon, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes), Pico de Gallo (salsa fresca, the Spike’s way), and Lemon Pesto Aioli (lemon, garlic, basil, pine nuts, and extra virgin olive oil).
Both Spike’s locations now offer Happy Hour every Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Guests will have the opportunity to try new items such as Spike’s Cajun Basa Hard Taco for $3.25 and Panko-Style Basa Nachos for $3.95. Each evening a menu highlight will be a $5 combo of one of four select Spike’s items (soft or hard taco, slider or lettuce wrap) with an ice-cold bottled beer.
Lucky for those living in South County, you can enjoy Spike’s in Rancho Santa Margarita or Laguna Niguel! I’m hoping owner Tim Aspel will open a Spike’s in the Huntington, Newport, Costa Mesa area soon. Until then, I can fulfill my craving for their lettuce wraps with this recipe, which I’m happy to share so you can make them at home, too
Spike’s Tilapia Panko-Style Lettuce Wraps
From Tim Aspel, Spike’s Fish House Yield: 3 lettuce wraps
- 1 large egg white
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, see cook’s notes
- 6- to 7-ounce tilapia fillet
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 lettuce cups, see cook’s notes
- 2/3 cup finely shredded red and green cabbage
- 3 tablespoons Spike Sauce (below)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons pico de gallo, see cook’s notes
- Garnish: lime wedges for optional juicing
1. Place egg white and panko in separate shallow bowls or pie plates. Dip both sides of fish in egg white, then panko. Heat oil on medium heat in nonstick skillet that is large enough to accommodate the fish. Cook fish on both sides, cooking long enough to nicely brown the crumbs and cook the interior. Fish should be opaque throughout. Cut fish into 3 portions. Cut each portion into 2 pieces.
2. Add 2 pieces of fish to a lettuce cup. Top with 2 tablespoons Spike’s sauce, some shredded cabbage and a generous tablespoon of pico de gallo. Repeat to make 2 more lettuce wraps. Serve with lime wedges on the side.
Cook’s notes: Japanese-style breadcrumbs, known as panko, are coarser than traditional, prepared dry breadcrumbs. They create a deliciously crunchy crust. Supermarkets often stock them in the Asian specialty section and the breadcrumb section. The 3/4 cup measurement is probably more than you will use, but when breading, it is helpful to have a generous amount to work with.
Easiest way to make lettuce cups: Cut off the bottom 1/3 of iceberg lettuce, then hold the cut side of the remaining portion under running water. The surge of the water will help separate the leaves. Drain “cups” upside-down on paper towels.
To make pico de gallo, combine 1 cup diced Roma tomatoes; 1/4 cup peeled, diced hothouse cucumber; 1/4 cup diced yellow onion; 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro; 1 small clove garlic (minced); and 1/2 seeded and minced fresh jalapeno chili, plus salt and pepper to taste.
- 1 cup low-fat, plain Greek-style yogurt
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- Smoked paprika, to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- Juice from grilled lemon, to taste (see cook’s notes)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
Cook’s notes: To grill lemon, use barbecue grill or grill pan. Cut lemon in half and place on heated grill until dark grill marks form. When cool enough to handle, squeeze juice.
Recipe compiled by Cathy Thomas for the Orange County Register.