Sunday, March 24, 2013
I first had fish tacos at a little joint at Huntington Beach, California. They were rock-my-socks-off delicious. Ever since then, I've been determined to re-create that first experience. This recipe is not exactly like the tacos I had that day, but they are every bit as authentic a California eating experience, and they are rock-star fish tacos. I kid you not. Try these and you may find them in your regular rotation for a while. Or at least as long as your arteries hold out.
Beer-Battered Fish Tacos
1 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup beer (plus more to make a thin batter)
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons of capers, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper
1 lb cod fillets, sliced into 2 oz. chunks
package corn tortillas
vegetable oil (for frying)
Mix the batter and set aside. Mix the sauce ingredients together and refrigerate. In a deep, heavy bottomed pot, put one quart of oil and set on medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, dredge the cod in some flour and then dunk in the batter. Add no more than 5 pieces at a time. Do not let them get too dark. Dry cod on paper towels. Heat a non-stick skillet on high. Heat a corn tortilla (not too stiff) on both sides. Load with fish, sauce, cabbage, tomatoes and top off with a little lime juice.
The fish is amazing by itself. The sauce by itself is amazing. And, if you use El Milagro corn tortilla shells (out of Chicago), the tortillas by themselves are amazing. But this dish put together is electric!
The sauce has many more applications beyond this dish. I can see it as dipping sauce for french fries (even though I'm not a french fry fan), on beef sandwiches, etc.
I'm not a big fan of fried food and I don't make it very often. (What do you do with all that oil when you are done?) From a health perspective, I suppose that's a good thing. But like homemade fried chicken, there is nothing quite like home cooked fried fish. So I only do this once every two years or so. I think my arteries will forgive me on those rare occasions. And this, my friends, was worth it.
On the other hand, the original fish tacos I had in Huntington Beach were grilled. I'm pretty sure they used tilapia or some other white fish. I think that you could use any "substantial" white fish (tilapia, cod, perch, etc.) and it would still be fine. I think if you sprinkled that fish with a little cumin and cayenne before baking it, it would also complement the flavors. So this doesn't have to be only an every-once-in-a-while dish. I also think it would be more visually appealing with purple cabbage and a nice fresh slice of avocado. Maybe even a few pinches of shredded carrot.