Last month Shane ran his first race of the year (a half marathon), and as has become our tradition, we went out to lunch with his parents afterward. Shane chose the restaurant – a pub we’d eaten at after the same race two years earlier. On that visit I’m pretty sure I’d ordered a burger, and I was set to get the same thing this year until Shane’s dad mentioned he was considering the fish tacos. I hadn’t even taken notice of them on the menu, but they sounded great so I ended up ordering them too. They were really good, and I remember turning to Shane and telling him we definitely needed to make a version at home.
I vaguely remembered bookmarking a beer battered fish taco recipe last year, and was psyched to uncover it among the starred items in my Google Reader. As tempted as I was to add the tacos to the menu the next week, I held off. When possible, I really prefer to fry when the weather is a bit nicer so we can open the doors and windows. It definitely helps to reduce that fast food restaurant smell from the house. With the crazy mild winter we’ve had here, we didn’t have to wait long. Early April brought temps in the 70’s and the perfect opportunity to recreate that restaurant experience at home.
I’ve fried a variety of things in my kitchen, but this was the first time for fish. The fish was coated with a batter made from a combination of seasoned flour and IPA beer (we used Harpoon), and after just a few minutes in the oil was golden brown and crisp on the outside with a flaky interior. I’m not generally a fan of IPA beers (too hoppy!), but it works here – the fish was so good! And, no worries, Shane was perfectly happy to handle the chore of drinking the leftover beer It took a little bit of time to fry all of the fish since we were doing it in batches, and in the meantime Shane and I couldn’t help sneaking a few pieces to snack on. What was left made it into the tacos, which I served on warm corn tortillas with lettuce, a little bit of cheese, baja sauce, and lime. It was definitely more work than the version I had at the restaurant but really fun to put together, and very tasty.
Quick note – the recipe originally called for frying the fish in just 1/2-inch of oil, but I found it really hard to maintain the temperature with so little oil. Even working in batches, the temperature of the oil dropped rapidly when I added the fish. I found it much easier with a greater depth of oil and that’s reflected in the directions below, but feel free to do what works best for you.
1 lb firm white fish (I used haddock)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup beer, preferably IPA
canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Mexican seasoning (I used this recipe to make my own)
1 small jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
corn tortillas, lettuce, cheese, lime wedges (or your favorite fixings)
To make the baja sauce: Add all of the ingredients to a medium bowl. Stir well to combine.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup of the flour, the paprika, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Add the beer, whisk to combine, and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Pour oil into a large Dutch oven to a depth of about 2 inches and set the pot over medium-high heat. Heat the oil until it reaches 375 F on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, pat the fish dry, season with salt and pepper, and cut into 1/2 to 1-inch cubes. Add to a medium bowl and combine with the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Toss to coat the fish.
When the oil is hot and working in batches, shake excess flour from the fish and transfer to the beer batter (the batter will be thick, just do your best to shake off the excess before adding the fish to the oil). Add about 6-8 pieces of fish at a time to the oil. Fry for about 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. I stirred mine around a bit with my spider strainer but wasn’t particular about flipping them individually. Remove the fish from the oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Continue to fry in batches until all of the fish is cooked. Adjust the heat under your pan to maintain the oil temperature.
Serve with warm corn tortillas, lettuce, cheese, lime and the baja sauce.