Haven’t you had one of those moments when you just crave a good, juicy taco? Well, who hasn’t, right? We have lots of those (the moments, I mean) and it is mainly because of these (the tacos, I mean, the ones we’re going to make today). Well, cravings and riddles aside, I promised my friend Álvaro that I will publish this recipe today and, since it is Sunday and I haven’t other thing to do but to get my daughter to live another day, there it goes: Crunchy, juicy, luscious Baja-Style Fish Tacos by SlapSlop.
So this goes to you Álvaro, Tatiana and Lana.
First off, let me say that this is not a quick dish. It isn’t rocket science but this is not indicated for when you need to have that quick delicious bite now.
The dish has four main components. The tortilla (you can buy them ready-made but make sure they are corn tortillas), the guacamole, the beer-battered fish and the pico the gallo. The sour cream is optional.
There are many variables when it comes to the sides for this classic dish. I normally would make a very fresh cole slaw, but I didn’t make it this time.
Well, let’s get to it.
Ingredients. Makes 12-14 tacos:
For the tortillas. If you don’t buy them at your local store or here.
- Maseca, 2 cups (If you don’t find it at your local store, you can buy it here).
- water, 1 1/3 cups. Room temperature.
- Salt, 1/2 tsp.
- A tortilla press or two flat surfaces and some brute force.
For the guacamole
- 3 avocados, ripe, gently mashed.
- 1 plum tomato, finely chopped.
- 1/2 onion, (about 40gr), finely chopped.
- 1 tbsp green onion, finely chopped.
- 1 handful cilantro (coriander), fresh, finely chopped.
- Fresh chilli to taste (jalapeño, bird-eye, habanero… whichever makes you tickle), very finely chopped.
- Juice of 1 lime.
- Extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp.
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Don’t throw the avocados’ stones.
For the beer battered fish
- 700gr of white fish. You can use halibut, cod (that’s the one I used for this recipe), but you can also use panga or any other cheaper fish you can find. Of course, the fresher the better.
- All purpose flour, 1 1/2 cup (for the batter)
- All purpose flour. 1 cup (for coating the fish)
- Salt, 1 tsp.
- 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground.
- 1 small pinch cumin powder.
- 1 small pinch smoked paprika powder.
- 1 pint of dark or red beer (1 1/2 cups).
- 2 tbsp melted butter.
- 1 egg white, whisked.
- 1 litre of vegetable oil.
For the pico de gallo
- 6 Plum tomatoes, ripe, finely chopped.
- Juice of 3 limes.
- Zest of 1 lime.
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
- 1 medium-sized red onion (about 1/2 cup), finely chopped. White onion works well too.
- 1 bunch of cilantro (about 100gr) leafs and stalks, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Fresh chilli to taste, very finely chopped.
- Salt and pepper.
For the whole recipe
- 2 hours of your life, sharp knives, several cutting boards, help.
- Mexican music in the background.
I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting something but there are so many things to this that it’s just bound to happen.
Let’s start with what we can prepare and set aside.
For the beer batter
In a large bowl, place the flour, dry spices and salt. Mix well.
Add the beer. Mix well until the batter is nice and smooth. Add the melted butter and mix well again. Set on the fridge.
Before dipping the fish in it for frying, add the whisked egg white and mix well again. Done.
For the pico de gallo
Chop everything as per the ingredient list, squeeze the hell out of the limes, zest one of them, season well, mix well. Cover with cling film. Leave it aside in the fridge. Done.
For the guacamole
Cut the avocados in half, hit the stone with the edge of the knife and separate it. With a spoon, extract all the meat of the avocado. Place it in a bowl. Keep the stones aside. Just follow this video.
Gently mash the avocados, add the spices, salt and pepper, the cilantro, the lime zest and the chilli. Mash gently again. This releases the beautiful aromas and juices of the cilantro, lime zest and chilli, which are essential to the guacamole.
Add the tomato and onion and the juice of the lime and mix everything well. Add the olive oil and mix gently again. Throw the stones inside of the guacamole. Cover with cling film. Place it in the fridge and set aside. Done.
For the tortillas
Mix the ingredients well until you have a nice, maleable ball that doesn’t stick to your hands. If it breaks too much or easily, then wet your hands and keep working the masa. It’s got to be moist but not wet.
Roll the dough on a flat surface and make 12 to 14 little perfectly round balls.
With the press or the brute force, flatten the balls until they are about 2mm thick.
Now, take a plate and a super clean kitchen cloth. Place the cloth under water and then squeeze all the water out of it until you have a wet cloth. Place half of the cloth of the plate.
Heat up a pan without oil until it is smoking hot. Place the tortillas on the pan one by one, flipping them after about 1 minute or the color is nice and golden. Every time you finish one tortilla, place it over the cloth and cover it with the other half of the cloth. I hope I’m being clear here. Make some kind of an protective “envelope” for the tortillas with the cloth. Set aside.
For the fish!
Place the 1 cup of flour on a plate. Cut the fish into two-bite size pieces and coat them wit the flour. Place the flour-coated fish in a sieve and shake the excess flour out of it.
Dip the flour-coated fish in the batter.
In a sauce pan, place the oil and heat up the oil to 180ºC (350ºF). If you don’t have a thermometer, then make sure the oil is not smoking, but about to.
In small batches and making sure the pieces of fish don’t stick together, fry the fish gently until lightly golden brown. Place the fish on a plate with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.
Once you fried all the fish up, crank up the heat of the oil another 10% and fry the fish again for another minute. This will make it extra crunchy and delicious.
For the tacos
Over the tortilla, place a spoonful of guacamole and top it up with the fish and pico the gallo. If you like sour cream, go ahead and add a dollop to top it all up.
Remember, we’re making tacos here. No ginormous burritos or some kind of tex-mex monstrosity. The final taco should fit in your hand. Just like this.
Done, done, done done, and DONE!