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
1⁄4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1⁄4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sugar, or more to taste
1⁄2 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice, or more to taste
1⁄4 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
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
11⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
11⁄2 pounds fish fillets such as snapper, sea bass, halibut, cod, mahi mahi or rock fish,
cut crosswise into 1⁄2-inch-wide strips
salt and pepper, to taste
vegetable oil, for frying
12 corn tortillas
Salsa Verde (recipe below)
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.
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 1⁄2 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 1⁄2 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