Chow Time: ‘Slammin’ Salmon’ tacos at Anaheim Fire & Rescue Station 7

By Elysse James

Anaheim Fire & Rescue Station 7 has been on a health kick lately.

Meals have been full of lean proteins, low carbs, and lots of vegetables.

But it’s impossible to turn down beer-battered fish tacos, especially when Firefighter Alex Miranda is in the kitchen. Not only did Miranda make delectable salmon tacos, he also served refried black beans with chorizo and cilantro-lime rice.

Anaheim Fire & Rescue Firefighter Paramedic Alex Miranda with his Slammin’ Salmon Fish Tacos meal at Fire Station 7.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“Alex is a great cook,” Firefighter/Paramedic Anthony Silva said as Miranda measured out the water for the rice. “It’s one of those things you don’t experience that often, but when you do, it’s great. It’s like fine dining.”

Miranda has been cooking since elementary school, when he made scrambled eggs, French fries, refried beans, homemade salsa, tortillas, and more alongside his grandmother in Mexico.

Anaheim Fire & Rescue Firefighter Alex Miranda fries salmon in batter made with warm beer.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

At about the same age, Miranda chose his future career. He wanted to be a paramedic, like Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto in the show, “Emergency!” After high school he briefly considered becoming a doctor, but then his sister’s boyfriend introduced him to the Fire Explorers. He started going on ride-alongs and taking classes, and has been in the field ever since.

Miranda recalls his first time cooking for Anaheim Fire & Rescue as a probationary fire fighter. He was at Station 1, one of Anaheim’s busiest stations, and he made steak and potatoes.

“It’s busy, and a lot of guys with high expectations,” Miranda said. “They liked it.”

Anaheim Fire & Rescue Capt. Mark Dunn smiles as he sits down to meal of Fire Station 7’s Slammin’ Salmon Fish Tacos.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Miranda hadn’t served his beer-battered fish tacos at Anaheim Fire & Rescue until recently.

“It’s hard for us now because it has to be healthy,” Silva said. “Alex makes a great cream of spinach. That was good, everyone loved that.”

Some days, the firefighters find themselves eating out because when things are busy they don’t have time to go back to the station to cook. On those days, Miranda and Silva will split a salad and chicken from a grocery store.

Anaheim Fire & Rescue Paramedic Engineer Tony Manzo, right, mixes the batter ingredients for the fried salmon that includes flour, baking power, salt, pepper, garlic power, paprika and warm beer.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“Meals were a big deal when I first started,” said Tony Manzo, an engineer and paramedic normally at Station 1. Everyone in the station, he said, contributes at mealtime. “Everybody is eager to help with preparing the meal and cleanup.”

But even when it’s hectic – or they’re chowing down on grocery store takeout – Station 7 still enjoys meals as a team.

“We still sit down and eat together,” Manzo said. “We use it as a social hour.”

Cooking Mexican-style chorizo before mixing it with mashed refried black beans.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

This night, the smell of the fish frying is enough to bring everyone into the kitchen to await the finished product. The crackle of the salmon in the frying pan is the loudest sound in the room as they watch the Modelo-battered fish puff into crunchy completion.

“You can use any fish,” Miranda says as he dips piece after piece of salmon into the batter and gently lowers it into the pan. “My favorite part is using that sauce. Everybody loves that sauce.”

Anaheim Fire & Rescue Firefighter Alex Miranda places perfectly golden brown fried salmon on the tray for the Slammin’ Salmon Fish Tacos.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

He suggests using the leftover sauce on eggs the next morning – if there’s any left over.

Once everyone dishes up their plate and takes a seat around the table, the room is silent as the fire fighters chow down.

“It’s excellent,” Silva said as he finished his first taco. “This is the best salmon fish taco I’ve ever had.”

Tortillas are browned over an open flame before being used for the fish tacos.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Slammin’ Salmon Tacos (serves 10)

1 bag soft tortillas
2 large salmon fillets
3 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons salt
Garlic powder, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Paprika, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
24-ounce can of room temperature Modelo
2 cups Greek yogurt
2 cups mayonnaise
1 can (7 ounces) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Juice from 1 to 2 limes
½ cup water
1.5 cups vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 jalapeno, sliced thinly
1 red onion, sliced thinly
¼ cabbage, sliced thinly
2 avocados, sliced thinly

Chopping up cilantro for the fish tacos.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Directions:

For the pickled toppings: Boil ½ cup water. Cut jalapeno and red onion into thin slivers. Mix 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar into the boiling water. Remove from heat. Add vinegar, oregano, jalapeno, and red onion. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

For the sauce: Blend Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, 1 can (7 ounces) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and the juice from 1 to 2 limes in a blender until smooth. Set aside until ready to serve.

For the fish: Remove skin from salmon fillets. Slice salmon into strips about ½-inch wide. Heat olive oil in a large skillet until it bubbles around the handle of a wooden spoon. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Add ¾ of a can of Modelo beer and mix into the dry ingredients in the bowl. Dip fish slices into the batter, then drop gently into the hot frying oil. Place several layers of paper towel onto cookie sheet, and lay cooked fish there until ready to serve. Heat tortillas on the stove one at a time, taking care to turn often so they don’t burn. Once lightly browned, place on a plate and add sliced cabbage, avocado, pickled jalapeno and onion, cooked fish, and sauce (see below).

The Slammin’ Salmon Fish Tacos served at Fire Station 7 include cilantro-lime rice, black beans with chorizo, salmon beer-battered tacos with a creamy baja sauce, cabbage, and pickled red onions.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Refried Black Beans with Chorizo

1 lb. Chorizo
2 30-ounce cans of black beans

Directions: Cook chorizo in a small pan over medium heat. Cook beans in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Once cooked, add chorizo to pot and mix, mashing beans.

Frying the salmon with batter made with flour, baking power, salt, pepper, garlic power, paprika and warm beer.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Cilantro-Lime Rice

2 cups of water
1 cup rice
Smidgen of butter
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 to 2 limes

Directions: Boil water with smidgeon of butter in medium-sized pot. Once water is boiling, add the rice, lime juice, and cilantro. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes before serving.