Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fish Tacos

San Diego - Land of Fish Tacos
My husband, Ian, is a self proclaimed Fish Taco snob.  From the 4 years he spent in San Diego with the Navy, he became quite the connoisseur of this culinary concoction.  I've dragged him to many a restaurant, trying to find something that could compare to what he enjoyed in the good ole' San Dog, all to no avail.  I finally decided it was high-time for me to try and make them myself.  So, I put my brain in gear and developed this recipe.  I made these for the first time a few weeks ago, and I think they're pretty freakin' awesome, and Ian loved them, too.  We're having one of Ian's bachelor med-school buddies over for dinner tonight, a guy who has also spent time in San Diego, so fish tacos were Ian's choice for the menu.  Now that I have the blessing of two San Diego fish taco aficionados, I can finally share this recipe with all of you. I hope you like it!

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Crisp Cabbage Slaw

Mahi Mahi - a fish so nice,
they named it twice!
  • Mahi-Mahi filet, de-skinned and cut into fish stick sizes, and dried. 
  • Season with a sprinkle of chili powder and S&P.
  • 3/4 cup flour (I use whole wheat)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup seltzer water or amber beer
  • S&P
  • Chili Powder
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Panko Bread Crumbs
  • Savoy cabbage - 1/2 head cored and sliced thinly.
  • 1/2 red onion sliced thinly
  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly.
  • Small handful of Cilantro, chopped
  • S&P
  • 1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
  • Sprinkle of Red Pepper Flakes (adjust to how hot you like it)
  • Diced Avocado
  • Sour Cream
  • Cholula Hot Sauce
Start with your slaw.  Simply mix all ingredients together, and refrigerate to let flavors marry while you make the rest of the dish.

Prepare the batter by mixing all ingredients thoroughly.  Then, let rest for 10 minutes so that the fiziness from the seltzer or beer subsides a bit.

Heat oil in a dutch oven or stock pot to medium-high heat.  I recommend a setting of 6 or 7 on your stove temperature gauge.  Let the oil come to temperature, you'll know it's hot when you take a drop of batter and it fizzes and floats to the top immediately when you drop it in the oil. Now you're ready to fry.

Make sure your 'fish sticks' are nice and dry - just pat them with a paper towel if need be.  Dip them in the batter, and then roll them in the panko breading.  Drop them immediately into the hot oil.  Let them cook for a few minutes on one side, and then flip them over to ensure the other side cooks too.  Once they are nice and golden brown, remove to a plate covered in paper towels so that the extra oil drains off. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and chili powder while hot. 

It's important not to crowd your pan as you fry the fish.  If there are too many pieces in there, they will give off too much steam and getting a nice crisp crust and non-greasy fish will be difficult. So plan on doing this in several batches.

While you're frying your fish, heat the tortillas. I like using 'fajita size' tortillas, and you can either heat them in the microwave between damp paper towels, or in the oven wrapped tightly in foil.

To make the taco, take your tortilla and smear with a bit of sour cream.  Add two pieces of fish, and then heap the slaw on top.  Add some diced avocado and the Cholula hot sauce to your liking.  Serve hot & enjoy!


  1. I've never really made fish tacos like that (batter-fried) -- so I should try it. Mostly I've just grilled the fish and put it in a tortilla, but I understand the quest for authenticity, so having that San Diego standard to live up to means I have a recipe to give a whirl here.

  2. Typcially, I would make a grilled version as well, but going for San Diego style, they have to be fried :) I think they would be just as delish with grilled chicken - in that case I'd probably use a corn tortilla :)