If you like deep fried British Fish & Chips (my video recipe is here,) or Japanese Tempura (my recipe is here, too) -- Fish Tacos are a handheld sidewalk version.
Locally (here in L.A.) you find them at Mexican seafood Taco Trucks; made by street vendors with a portable deep fryer (Ricky's Tacos are a fine example;) and many mom and pop taquerias. Some have no batter and are grilled to suit the local skinny-jeans wearing types, but I prefer mine coated and deep fried. (I don't eat them that often so I go for this belt-loosening version.)
And if you were here last week then you saw my Cheap$kate Dining video of Tacos Baja 99c Wednesday Fish Taco special. They do them perfectly. Just scroll down to the next blogpost to read all about it. (Even The Wall Street Journal has weighed in on fish tacos, read it here.)
Fish Tacos are a perfect combination of contrasting flavors, usually consisting of: crisp shredded cabbage, cool crema, crunchy coated deep fried fish filets and a dash of spicy chile, all on a soft warm corn tortilla.
You can use any cheap firm fish, like rockfish, tilapia and cod. I get my frozen fish filets at local Latin markets and 99c only stores. The veggie topping is inexpensive, just cabbage (sometimes a pico de gallo of tomato, onion, cilantro and lime juice is added.) Of course, corn tortillas are always a bargain.
And a Fish Taco is topped with a Mexican Crema sauce, which is Mexican sour cream with a little milk and mayo. But you can substitute with any type of sour cream - it's close enough.
You don't have to tote a surfboard to enjoy The 99 Cent Chef's savory Fried Fish Tacos, but bring a hearty appetite -- along with an ice cold cerveza or two.
Ingredients (about 8 fish tacos)
- 1 pound fish - use a firm flaky fish like: halibut, cod, tilapia or sea bass. Cut into 2-4 inch pieces. Okay to use smaller prepackaged frozen fillets, just cut ingredients by half.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup water - or beer. Add a little chicken bouillon (a teaspoon amount) to water for extra flavor.
- 1 teaspoon baking powder.
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano - or 1/2 teaspoon dried.
- 1 teaspoon garlic - fresh crushed, finely chopped, or dried (granulated.)
- Enough oil for frying fish - at least a couple inches deep in a pan or pot.
- Package of small corn tortillas.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- 2 cups shredded cabbage - okay to use packaged pre-shredded coleslaw.
- Salsa - from jar or fresh (for my Pico de Gallo recipe click here.)
- 1/2 cup Mexican Crema or regular sour cream.
- 1/4 cup mayo - optional
- 1/4 cup milk
Directions for Toppings
You can make cabbage and Crema Topping first or while the fish fries.
For the cabbage, just shred it or fine chop it. Set aside on a plate or bowl.
In another bowl make the Crema Topping by adding sour cream or Mexican crema, mayo and milk. Mix well. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
My Pico de Gallo salsa recipe (here) is a good addition, or just use your favorite jar of salsa and hot sauce.
Fried Fish Directions
Start the oil heating in a pan or pot over a medium heat.
For the fried fish, first make a dipping batter. Mix in a bowl: flour, baking powder, garlic, oregano, and water (or beer.) Season with salt and pepper.
Mix batter well. It should be the consistency of pancake batter.
Cut fish into 2 to 4 inch pieces (so they will fit snugly into a corn tortilla.) When oil is hot enough, coat each fish piece in batter and add one at a time to the hot oil (350 degrees.)
Be careful as oil may splatter some at first. Oil should bubble around fish pieces right away. Allow each fish piece a few seconds of cooking before adding another one to the oil.
Watch the edges of the fish to check when the coating turns brown. Turn each fish fillet to brown on each side. Should only take around 5 minutes total, depending on oil heat. As each piece is done set aside on a paper towel or metal rack to drain. Okay to store in low heated oven while you cook all the fish. Or hand them out as they are done.
You can microwave the corn tortillas, heat them up in the oven or on a frying pan. They just need a minute of heating to soften them.
Layer on fish, cabbage and crema. Extra toppings include salsa, avocado and hot sauce. You could also mix salsa or pico de gallo (recipe here) into the shredded cabbage.