Saturday, May 16, 2009

Baja Fish Tacos

I have had fish tacos before. Growing up in California and traveling to its beach towns, there is always a local fish taco stand somewhere nearby. The typical taco consists of chunks of fish in a basic batter, fried in oil, and served in a corn tortilla topped with chopped green cabbage, a spicy red sauce, and a creamy white sauce. When the Huangs invited us over for fish tacos, this is what I was expecting. Boy, was I ever wrong. This was a unique twist to the simple recipe and by far, the best fish tacos that I have ever tasted.

The traditional fish for fish tacos is cod. You can use a variety of fish here including talapia, mahi mahi, even defrosted fish from your freezer. Rinse fish, pat dry with paper towels, and cut it into chunks.

To avoid clumping, the batter is started in two mixing bowls, then combined. The first bowl consists of the dry ingredients. Add a cup of flour, tablespoon of baking powder, and some salt and pepper and mix together.

The second mixing bowl is for the wet ingredients. Combine a cup of beer, an egg, a teaspoon of ground chipotle pepper, and some paprika for color. Once this is mixed together, fold in the dry ingredients and mix well.

Now is the time to start heating up the oil used to cook the fish with. An iron skillet works best here to keep the oil at a constant temperature. Heat a quart of vegetable oil over medium high until bubbles start to form.

While waiting for the oil to heat up, it is a good time to prepare the cabbage. This isn't the typical boring cabbage topping, but is an amazing contribution to this taco. Finely shred 1/2 head of green cabbage and put in a mixing bowl. Add to it 1/2 diced red onion, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, a splash of olive oil, white cider vinegar, and lime juice. Finish it off with salt and pepper and mix it all together.

Check your oil. Still not ready, we can make the white sauce then. Again, this isn't the basic sour cream that you get at the chain Baja restaurant, but gives a distinctive flavor to this taco. Mix together 1/2 cup of sour cream, some chopped cilantro, lime juice, paprika, and salt.

The oil should be warmed up now. Put each of your corn tortillas into the oil for a few seconds, you should see bubbles appear around the entire tortilla confirming that the temperature of the oil is correct. Place tortillas on a paper towel covered plate upon removal from the oil.

Now it is time to fry the fish. Use a pair of tongs to bathe fish chunks in batter, then place into hot oil. Add only a few pieces at a time to the oil giving them enough space to expand. Turn over after a couple of minutes and cook back side. Once golden brown, remove from oil and place in container with paper towel liner.

Once all the fish is fried, it is time to serve. Garnish with avocado and lime wedges. Truly a righteous experience.

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