Always Watching + Fish Tacos

Always Watching + Fish Tacos

Recently, our oldest, nearly 12, asked me, “Mom, I thought we were ‘m’s.’ How come I don’t see you sharing the Gospel with a lot of people?”

Bam!

After getting over the shock of the question, we had a great conversation about what it looks like to share about our faith here. We can’t teach on the street corner, hand out Bibles, or even serve in a local church. But we can live our lives in a way that stands out. I gave him several examples of people who, after watching our lives for a while, asked us why we are so different.

We recently opened a business to teach English and have been advertising like crazy. One neighbor whom I’ve gotten to know over chats in the courtyard, surprised us by helping us advertise through social media with a raving review of our family. Here’s what she said:

“This couple is a pair of enthusiastic and well-meaning American teachers. We’ve been neighbors and friends for a while and I’ve watched them work while raising three children. They don’t yell, worry, or tell the kids what to do; they only have happy, smiling faces and stable emotions. The dad often accompanies the children to play soccer and games instead of dumping the responsibility on his wife. I see him as much as I see the mom. The mom is also kind, generous and warm, and is very happy to talk to anyone (because her Chinese is so good and she can even understand dialects). This couple really respects children, understands education, and can teach authentic English!”

I do NOT share this to brag. Actually, I laughed when I read that we “only have happy, smiling faces and stable emotions.” Clearly she’s never seen me in my home when the kids get on my nerves! Also, my Chinese isn’t that great—nor can I understand dialects!—but I’m not afraid to get out there and try.

So why am I sharing this with you? Because it hit me hard that people are constantly watching us. I mean, really watching our every move and emotion and reaction. On one hand, that stresses me out—who wants to be under a microscope?! On the other hand, I see the immense opportunities we have here.

So when my son asked why he doesn’t see me sharing the Gospel with those around us, I shared this story. People are always seeing what the weird foreigner will do next. Unfortunately, they look to American movies and TV shows to base their judgements on what type of people we are. So when we act differently, it truly is so different.

Of course, I took it one mom-step further and encouraged him to think about how he acts towards his siblings or other friends when playing outside. They, too, have a chance to share their testimony of choices and actions.

It reminds me of the Gospels and how many vantage points of people watching Jesus, from near and far, are described. They knew He was different…a foreigner…but most of them couldn’t quite put a finger on how or why He stood out.

We’ve always known the mere fact that we stand out so much (and even more so as a multi-cultural family) brings opportunities to share parts of our story. If I’m completely honest, it can sometimes go to our heads. Like, when we go back to the States, I wonder why no one wants to take pictures of my beautiful kids. Ha! But when my pride is taking a back seat, I stand in awe at the creative opportunities God has given us to converse with so many that would normally never talk with strangers.

Involving our kids can be tricky. Sometimes they (we) don’t want to feel like a zoo exhibit. But I want them to always be kind, even if they need to say, “no pictures right now, please.” When guests come over, it’s tempting to have a separate activity for the kids to do in another room so the adults can actually converse. But the tug to involve them is always there. I want to be a good example. I want them to see God move in real ways.

The push and the pull of the right balance will always be there. Jesus felt it, too.

At least I know they—and everyone else—are watching.

What does life on the field look like for your family? How do you involve your kids in what you do? Do you find yourself trying to protect them from the hard things of this overseas life?

*****

Last time we were in the States, we discovered fish tacos. Lightly fried or baked pieces of fish in a corn tortilla, simply topped with some veggies and always a deliciously spicy and tangy sauce. So good! Last year, I discovered a fish that didn’t have tons of tiny bones like the locals like to eat. Game-changer! Fish tacos is basically the only thing my family allows me to make with said boneless fish. I’m not complaining!

This line up will make THE most delicious sauce. I make extra and can be found sneaking spoonfuls of it.
Purple cabbage has become a family fave lately. It’s either doused in the sauce made from above or roasted with olive oil and salt. Both are finger-lickin’ good!
Yummy sauce + cabbage = delightful topping for fish tacos!
Pro tip: Use one hand to dip fish into the egg and the other dip into the bread crumbs/spices.
I love that these are crispy on all sides without drowning in oil!
The fish is under there somewhere….I’m telling ya, the cabbage and sauce are just as much stars of this show!

Baked Fish Tacos with Creamy Spicy Sauce

Serves: 6

Ready in: 45 minutes

Slightly adapted from: Gimme Some Oven

Creamy Spicy Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • 2-3 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1-2 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Fish:

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs*
  • 2 tsps chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 1/2 pounds firm white fish, such as cod or halibut, cut into 2-inch pieces

Toppings:

  • Cabbage
  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • More sauce
  • More lime
  1. Whisk sauce ingredients well until combined. Adjust to taste. If you like more tang, add more mayonnaise and lime. For more spice, add more sriracha.
  2. Mix most of sauce with chopped cabbage. Save a little extra, because you will want more to drizzle on top of your taco!
  3. Heat oven to 375°F.  Spread the bread crumbs out in an even layer on a medium baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.  Bake for 5-7 minutes, giving the pan a gentle shake halfway through, until the bread crumbs are toasted and golden brown.  (Keep a close eye on them so they do not burn.) Transfer the bread crumbs to a medium bowl, and dust off the baking sheet for future use.
  4. Add chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper to the bowl with the bread crumbs, then whisk the mixture until combined.
  5. Now, set up an assembly line with the (1) fish, (2) whisked egg, (3) bread crumb mixture and (4) baking sheet.  Using your right hand, dip a piece of fish in the egg so that it is coated on all sides.  Then, using your left hand, transfer the fish to the panko mixture and gently press it on so that the fish is coated on all sides.  Using your left hand, transfer the fish to the baking sheet.  Then repeat the process with the remaining fish.
  6. Bake the fish for 10 minutes, or until it is cooked through and opaque and flakes easily with a fork.  (Internal temperature should be 145°F.) 

*Bread crumbs are not easy to access here. If I ever have stale bread, I’ll throw it in the food processor, then put it in a baggie and in the freezer until I need it. If I’m out of those, in a pinch, I’ll use mashed up Ritz-type crackers.

Photo by Riccardo Pitzalis on Unsplash

4 Comments

  1. Ruth May 9, 2021

    This is really beautiful. Thank you. I find it so hard at times that microscope feeling because I do yell at my kids far more then I should, and I often feel that I fail even more because of that added pressure of all those constant eyes and ears, but what a lovely reminder of the beautiful testimony of living out life faithfully.

    1. Ashley Felder May 10, 2021

      The microscope definitely keeps us accountable at times. Hang in there! I’m sure those watching understand the full picture of motherhood, too.

  2. Becca May 10, 2021

    I can definitely relate to this during our recent time living in China; thank you for sharing!

    We also loved making fish tacos. We had a fried variation, which was also great (and with very easy ingredients to find in China). Same steps outlined in the recipe above, but the fish is fried in a beer-batter:

    1 cup flour
    2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 can beer, not dark

    Combine flour and salt, then add beer. It should be relatively thick, which was nice since the batter actually stayed on the fish when we fried it.
    Fill large saucepan with vegetable oil or lard. You want enough that the fish can be submerged in it. Get it nice and hot and cook the fish in batches, being certain not to crowd the pan as you want the oil to stay hot.
    Turn the fish after about a minute. Look for the color to decide when to remove. As soon as it’s golden, you’re good to go. Remove and place on a plate with a paper towel to drain.

    1. Ashley Felder May 10, 2021

      Becca, thanks so much for this fried variation! I’ll have to do this once in a while to change it up. I’m always wary of deep frying because of all the wasted oil. Does this frying gunk up the oil so badly that it’s not reusable? Either way, sounds delicious!

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