John D Lee is a chef and restauranteur living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's always loved to cook.
While I often just bread fish with a simple flour and salt and pepper dusting for fish tacos, there are definitely times when you want the crunch and substance of a beer battered fish in your Baja style fish tacos.
Here’s a simple recipe for good beer battered Baja style fish tacos. One of the real pluses of the method to follow is that it doesn’t require you to heat a deep fryer to make your fried fish. As the fish will get sliced into manageable segments before going into the taco anyway, I find it a lot easier to slice it into thin strips (goujons) before battering and frying. By using thinner strips of fish, you can get away with shallow frying in less than an inch of oil and you also get a lot more crunch in every bite!
This is a really simple batter to remember—just use equal parts beer and flour, and for every cup of beer you add, add 1 tsp of salt.
Note: You can use either corn tortillas or flour tortillas for this recipe. If you can get very fresh corn tortillas then corn is the way to go, no question. If the only corn tortillas you can get your hands on are even a little bit stale, then even if you can heat them up, flour tortillas are better, and they are always very pliant.
Beer-Battered Fish Tacos (Serves Four)
- 1 cup beer
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- A little bit more flour for dusting the fish before you batter
- 1 lb of flaky white fish, cut into ¾ inch thick strips - I use John Dory, but cod, halibut etc. will all work fine
- 8 flour tortillas or 12 corn tortillas (figure 2 flour tortillas tacos per person or 3 if using the smaller corn tortillas)
- 1 cup of shredded cabbage
- 1 cup of torn lettuce
- About ¼ cup of chopped white onion
- About ¼ cup of spicy tomato salsa (not chuncky, preferably) and about ¼ cup of mayonnaise, mixed together to form a pinkish sauce
- A couple of limes
Fish Taco Recipe
- To make your batter, mix the first three ingredients in a mixing bowl, whisking it all together until smooth.
- Turn your oven on low (you’ll hold the fish in here as you fry it in batches to keep it warm). If you don’t care about keeping it warm, then you can skip this step.
- On a large plate, working in batches, dust flour all over your pieces of fish. You want to make to make your fish flour-dried before adding it to the batter, so that the batter will adhere completely to the fish.
- In large frying pan, heat about ¾ of an inch of vegetable oil over medium. Use the heaviest pan you have for this (cast iron is perfect) as you want something that will hold the heat as you start to add the fish in
- If you have a frying thermometer, get the oil to about 360o. If you don’t have a frying thermometer, try dipping in a corner of some battered fish to test for temperature. If the oil starts bubbling nicely as soon as you slide the corner of the fish in, then you are ready to go. If the oil is volcano bubbling and spattering, then the oil is too hot and needs to cool down. If you’re getting only very slow bubbling, then you need to preheat for another minute or so.
- Once the oil is hot, toss the pieces of fish in the batter and then slide them one at a time into the oil. Make sure that each piece is completely covered in batter. If you have a largish frying pan, you can probably fit half the fish in at one time, if your frying pan is a bit smaller, you may need to do this in three batches. It’s important not to crowd the pan as this will drop the oil temperature quickly, resulting in greasy fish. Fry the fish pieces turning them occasionally, until they are golden brown all over and crispy—4 or 5 minutes. Once done, remove from the oil and let drain on paper towels as you repeat the process with the remaining fish.
- Transfer the finished fish to a low oven to hold warm while you finish frying the rest of the fish
- To assemble the tacos, divide the shredded cabbage, onion and lettuce evenly between the tortillas, and then top with the fish and the mayo/spicy salsa sauce. Before rolling each taco up, give the fish in each tortilla a squirt of fresh lime juice—figure a wedge of lime per taco.
- Roll up and serve with your favorite Mexican sides.