Tired of tradition? Try a lighter, brighter taco option with Missy Gipson

Tired of tradition? Try a lighter, brighter taco option with Missy Gipson

The weather has turned cold — again — but that doesn’t mean you can’t warm up your home and your heart this New Year’s weekend with something completely different!

Enter Missy Gipson, who is most often seen putting new, different and exciting kids’ productions on stage as executive director of the Young Actors Guild, a youth theater in Fort Smith. Turns out she’s equally fun, fresh and fascinating in the kitchen — and she’s got a lighter, brighter taste treat for the first wintery days of 2022.

“I come from a line of women who cook,” says Gipson, who is also the founding director of Pilot Arts, a musical theater company in Fayetteville; runs a voice studio; acts in commercials; and plays in an Americana band called Chase Missy with her husband, who is unsurprisingly named Chase. “My mom, Laura, taught me, and her mom, Joyce, taught her. I do like to cook as much as I can, but all three of our kids are in sports, so sometimes cooking is done through a drive-through. But we aim to sit and eat together at least a few times a week.

“I also am a big fan of cooking shows (dream job), competition ones as well as chef driven ones. I definitely dream about having a cooking show just so I can tour around our beautiful world with my family and meet people who can really cook!”

Gipson says the family — Hollis is 13, Evie is 11, and Hart is 7 — spent Christmas in New Mexico with relatives, dining on “a mixture of ham, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, rolls, and our holiday staple, fried okra” — along with a key lime pie, “because nothing says Christmas like pie.”

In January, she promises, there will be season announcements for both YAG and Pilot Arts, and in February, YAG will mount a touring production of “The Three Musketeers: The REAL Story.” “Lots of fun will be had!”

Missy Gipson likes to have as much fun in the kitchen as she does singing, acting and directing. Good thing, since she and husband Chase have a 13-year-old with a voracious appetite and two younger girls with “more conservative palates.” (Courtesy Photos)

Beer Battered Fish Tacos

(Inspired by the recipe from the Pollan Family Table with some slight adjustments)

For the salsa:

3 strawberries, diced

2 cups diced mango

1/2 cup finely diced red pepper

1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped jalapeno

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh cilantro

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

*usually 2-3 limes squeezed

a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper

For the chipotle sauce:

1 tablespoon of diced canned chipotle pepper, with 2 teaspoons of the adobo sauce

*you can find chipotle canned peppers at Harps!

1 cup of light mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s)

Kosher salt (I put in about a 1/4 teaspoon)

For the fish tacos:

11/2 lbs of tilapia (or any skinless white fish), cut into 1 by 3 inch strips

Kosher salt

Black pepper

1 cup of flour (all purpose)

1/4 tsp of ground cumin

1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper

1 cup of beer (any kind but I recommend a Corona over a Guinness)

Corn and/or flour tortillas (we’re a house divided; I prefer corn, but my crew prefers flour)

1 quart canola oil

Bibb or large leaf lettuce to serve with tacos

1 lime, cut into wedges

Sea salt

For the salsa:

In a bowl, combine the mango, strawberries, red pepper, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt, and 1/8 tsp of pepper. Mix and set aside.

For the chipotle sauce:

Combine the diced up chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, mayonnaise, and 1/4 tsp. of kosher salt in in a small bowl. Mix until smooth and refrigerate until you a ready to consume!

For the fish tacos:

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with brown paper or paper towels.

Season fish with kosher salt and black pepper. Refrigerate until oil is hot and ready.

In a larger bowl, combine the flour, cumin, cayenne, 1/2 tsp of kosher salt, and 1/8 tsp of pepper. Add the beer and stir until smooth. It should be the consistency of thinner peanut butter.

Add a splash more beer if needed. The beer will cook off!

Wrap tortillas in foil and place in the warm oven.

In a deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers (around 375 F).

Batter each piece of fish and place into the oil using tongs. Only put in enough pieces so that they don’t touch. They like their personal space. Fry the strips until nicely browned (2-3 minutes) then flip to the other side. Cook on the other side for another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the fish from the oil with the tongs and move to the brown paper lined baking sheet to drain. Keep baking sheet in oven until all pieces are cooked, to keep warm. Once all pieces are fried, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt, if desired.

Arrange your taco bliss. I recommend a tortilla, slathered with chipotle sauce, a tablespoon of fruit salsa, with a large leaf of lettuce. The fruit salsa is also delicious as a side item with tortilla chips.

Categories: Cover Story