Baja Style Fish Tacos Recipe

It’s hard not to think about delectable Mexican food this time of year with Cinco de Mayo around the corner. Of course it’s hard not to think about tasty Mexican food anytime. A popular order at restaurants is fish tacos, and with the help of cookbook author and Real Food contributor Bruce Aidells, you can try your hand at making your own at home. 

Several years ago when Aidells was visiting friends in Cabo San Lucas, they went to a small taqueria for lunch. The specialty was fish tacos coated in beer batter and served in warm tortillas with green salsa and a slightly sweet and limey coleslaw. Though simple, they could not have been better, he said. The batter not only was light and crispy, it was flavored with an assortment of herbs and spices. “After several tries, I think I have managed to come up with a very tasty rendition,” notes Aidells. Serve these soft tacos simply dressed with Salsa Verde and a bit of Tangy Coleslaw. Buen provecho!

Baja Style Fish Tacos 

Makes 4 to 6 Servings 

Tangy Coleslaw
14 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
14 cup mayonnaise 
2 teaspoons sugar, or more to taste
12 cup chopped cilantro 
3 tablespoons lime juice, or more to taste
14 cup sweet onion, finely chopped 
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
3 cups cabbage, finely shredded 

Spicy Beer Batter
1 egg, lightly beaten 
1 cup lager beer, such as Mexican beer
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
2 teaspoons pure New Mexico chili powder or Hungarian paprika
12 teaspoon ground cumin
12 teaspoon garlic powder
12 teaspoon dried oregano
114 cups all-purpose flour 

112 pounds fish fillets such as snapper, sea bass, halibut, cod, mahi mahi or rock fish,
   cut crosswise into 12-inch-wide strips
salt and pepper, to taste 
vegetable oil, for frying 
12 corn tortillas 

Salsa Verde (recipe below)
lime wedges
Tabasco or other hot sauce 

1. For the coleslaw: Whisk together all ingredients except cabbage until well-blended. Toss in cabbage until nicely coated. Season to taste with salt, pepper, sugar and lime juice. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Will keep refrigerated up to 1 day. 

2. For the batter: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except flour. Gradually whisk in flour to form a smooth, slightly runny batter. Set aside.

3. Lightly season fish with salt and pepper. Wrap tortillas in foil and heat 15 minutes in a 350°F oven. Remove from oven and wrap in a clean dishtowel to keep warm. While tortillas are warming, heat 3 to 4 inches oil in a 3- to 4-quart, heavy pot to 350°F to 360°F. 

4. Drop a fish piece into batter until coated. Pick up with a slotted spoon, allowing excess batter to drain back into bowl. Gently lower fish into hot oil and continue until several strips are frying. Cook fish in batches so as not to overcrowd pot. Flip fish pieces as they brown to cook evenly on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes total. Drain on paper towels. 

5. To serve, place 2 to 3 fish pieces in a warm tortilla. Spoon on Salsa Verde, a squeeze of lime, and hot sauce if desired. Spoon on coleslaw, fold and serve immediately. 

Salsa Verde 
Makes 1 cup 

6 medium tomatillos, husked, washed and diced, or 6 canned tomatillos, chopped 
2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped 
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste
3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (optional) 

1. In a small saucepan, boil tomatillos and jalapeños 5 minutes with enough water to cover, until soft. (If using canned tomatillos, only boil jalapeños.) Drain and let cool. 

2. In a blender jar, combine all ingredients with 12 teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth and season to taste with lime and salt. Will keep refrigerated 2 to 3 days. 

Cook’s Note: You can also easily make tostadas with this recipe: Spoon 12 cup coleslaw over a crispy, flat tortilla. Top with 3 slices fish. Dress with Salsa Verde, chopped sweet onion, lime juice and a few cilantro leaves. Or to make a torta (Mexican sandwich roll), spread mayonnaise on both sides of a toasted French roll. Cover 1 half with coleslaw. Lay on 4 to 5 slices fish. Dress with Salsa Verde and a squeeze of lime. Add vine-ripened tomato slices, if desired. 

Nutrition info (per serving): Calories 522 (253 from fat); Fat 29g (sat. 5g); Chol 66mg; Sodium 349mg; Carb 38g; Fiber 4g; Protein 29g 

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.