Tuesdays means TACOS and our good friend Rick Bayless shares with us his all-time favorite fish or shrimp batter recipe that he learned to make from a street food vendor in Ensenada – Tacos Fenix!
Now, you could argue that fish and shrimp tacos don’t exactly qualify as comfort food yet something about each bite of that golden, crispy, seafood delight — enhanced by tangy hot sauce, cooling, creamy mayo and a toothsome cabbage crunch — just triggers a deep-rooted, immense pleasure.
This recipe was inspired by one of Rick’s favorite food vendors in Ensenada – Tacos Fenix – which deviates from your run-of-the-mill batter by adding a few unexpected ingredients.
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- Salt to taste
- 1/2teaspoonMexican oregano
- 1/2teaspoon fresh black pepper
- 1teaspoon yellow mustard (like French’s)
- 1teaspoon concentrated chicken base or chicken-flavor powdered bouillon
- 1cup beer, sparkling water or water
- 1teaspoon baking powder
- 1cup all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches for frying
- 1pound boneless, skinless fish filets (practically anything will work, but I like larger-flake, lighter-flavor fish best for this preparation—think halibut, sea bass, grouper and the like)
- 1/3cup mayonnaise
- 1/3cup sour cream or heavy (whipping) cream
- 1/4cup milk
- 12 warm corn tortillas
- 1cup (or more) thinly sliced cabbage (I like Napa cabbage best)
- About 1cup salsa (toasted arbol chile salsa, roasted green chile salsa, roasted tomatillo salsa or even one of the Mexican hot sauces like Tamazula or Valentina)
- 2 or 3 limes, cut into wedges
Finely chop the garlic, sprinkle generously with salt, then mash back and forth with the side of your knife across your cutting board until crushed to a puree. Scrape into a medium bowl and add the oregano, black pepper, mustard, base or bouillon, beer or water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the flour and baking powder to the wet ingredients and whisk just until combined.
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet to 370 degrees. While the oil is heating, cut the fish into pieces about 3 inches long by 1/2 inch square. Use a pair of tongs to pick up a piece of fish, dip it completely into the batter, and lay it into the oil. Continue with a few more pieces of fish, filling the hot oil with an uncrowded layer. Fry, turning the pieces regularly, until deep golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven on a wire rack set over a sheet pan while you fry the rest of the fish.
Mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream and milk. Set out with the cabbage, salsa, warm corn tortillas, limes and the crispy fish for everyone to make tacos.