Baja Fish Tacos

This popular fish recipe originated in Baja California, the Mexican peninsula just south of the border, where Japanese fisherman contributed the tempura technique and locals made it into a taco. In the 1970s a San Diego student brought the idea of a fish taco stand back from his surfing trip and a taco empire began. These perfectly fried bites of soft white fish are addictive when encased in a corn tortilla and topped with crunchy cabbage and the heat, acid, and cream from a duo of sauces.
Baja Fish Tacos

Ingredients

  • 4 fillets of Chilean sea bass
  • 8 soft corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage (red or green)
  • 8 cups of neutral oil for frying such as canola
  • salsa (see below)
  • chipotle cream sauce (see below)
  • cilantro
  • lime wedges for garnish

Salsa:

  • 1 cup finely diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup finely diced red onion
  • ½ small clove of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • ½ serrano chile or jalapeño finely diced (adjust to desired heat level or omit entirely)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Chipotle Cream Sauce:

  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1½ teaspoons canned chipotle in adobe sauce (Chop the peppers until super fine, or use the adobe sauce for a milder flavor)

Batter:

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • 1 cup club soda
  • pinch of salt

Preparation

  1. Thaw Chilean sea bass fillets overnight in the refrigerator. Remove from packaging, place on a paper towel-lined plate or tray on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator. Allow about 12 hours, and once thawed, give a good pat-down with paper towels to remove any remaining moisture before cooking.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the salsa, let sit for at least 30 minutes marinating or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, and chipotle for the chipotle cream sauce. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated overnight.
  4. In a large Dutch oven heat 8 cups of frying oil to 325 degrees F. Use a candy thermometer to gauge temperature.
  5. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F and have a sheet pan fitted with a wire rack ready next to your frying oil.
  6. Cut each sea bass fillet in half, season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  7. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all of the batter ingredients until smooth.
  8. Once the oil has come up to temperature, dredge the sea bass fillets one at a time in the batter. Use a wooden skewer to immerse each fillet in the hot oil, swirl each piece for a few seconds before releasing it into the oil, this allows the beginning of a crust to form and prevents the fillet from falling to the bottom of the pot and sticking. Work in batches being sure not to overcrowd the fryer. Cook each fillet until golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove using a large slotted spoon or a spider and place on the wire rack and keep warm in the oven as you work on subsequent batches. As you work on your last batch, warm the taco shells in the oven.
  9. When all of the fish has been fried, start to assemble the tacos. Place a piece of fried fish sea bass on each tortilla, top with salsa, shredded cabbage, chipotle cream, and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve with lime wedges on the side.