(3/17/2012 Update: If you like these…see here for some great pix and more fish taco fun.)
There are certain foods that I constantly order at restaurants because:
a) I love them.
b) I’ve always imagined they would be hard to make.
c) I’m afraid if I did make them, they wouldn’t be as good as the restaurant variety.
Fish tacos are one of these such items. Stupidly simple and shockingly good, I fell in love with them when we traveled to Sayulita, Mexico for the first time. The combination of the earthy corn tortilla, buttery battered and fried fish, tangy white sauce, and crisp cabbage was so exquisite I quickly found myself eating nothing but fish tacos for every meal. Since returning to Seattle I’ve been on the hunt for a great fish taco. Luckily, I found it at our new local mexican eatery, Huarachitas Mexican Taqueria. A darling restaurant, with fabulous food, it is absolutely worth checking out.
That said, after going there multiple times in one month (I refuse to disclose just how many), Matt put his foot down that we needed to go to other restaurants. And so…determined to keep up my fish taco quota, I decided to try and make them.
The results were, dare I say, even better than Huarachitas. These are particularly fun to make for a dinner party where you can allow people to assemble exactly the combination that they like. I served these with champagne, and a nachos appetizer, (because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love champagne and nachos). It was, admittedly, slightly overkill so you could likely serve these without the nacho beginnings and simply cold mugs of beer.
Baja Fish Tacos
Serves 4 (hungry people)
Step 1: Tortillas
True diehards make their own tortillas. This has always felt to me like a poor use of time so you can just buy them at the grocery store. Even better is if there is a little Mexican grocer or restaurant around you who will let you buy them directly from them. I prefer corn but flour is fine too. When it’s time to eat you can either heat the tortillas up via a hot, dry pan or by microwaving the stack of tortillas between damp paper towels for 30 seconds.
Step 2: The White Sauce & Toppings
This is where the real magic takes place. The white sauce, or crema, is sinfully delicious.
- Fresh lime juice to taste (I like about 2 TB)
- ½ cup yogurt or sour cream
- ½ mayonnaise
- 1 TB Sriracha hot sauce (or something similar)
- ½ teaspoon – crushed oregano
- ½ teaspoon – ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon – dried, crushed dill
- ½ teaspoon – ground cayenne chile
- ground white pepper to taste
Combine the first three ingredients, aiming for a slightly runny consistency. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.
1/2 bundle cilantro
2 cups red cabbage
1 cup mozzarella
Coarsely chop cilantro and set aside in small bowl for toppings. Dice mozzarella or queso fresco and set aside in separate bowl. Cut up the cabbage. Slice as thinly as possible so the strands still stay together. Set aside in bowl. Quarter the limes and serve one wedge with each plate.
Step 3: The Fish
Cod works well, although you can use whatever white fish you prefer. Since it’s going to be battered and fried this is a great opportunity to take advantage of whatever is on sale.
2 LB White Fish washed, patted dry, and cut into 1 inch strips
- 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.
Serve immediately with tortillas, white sauce, and toppings. Enjoy.