Cal-Mex Fish Tacos with Creamy Slaw
Cal-Mex Fish Tacos with Creamy Slaw
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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Rating:
3.3333333 (21 rated)
Servings:
6

Tacos can truly be gourmet and if you're looking to impress, you have to try this recipe from Pati Jinich, author of "Pati's Mexican Table." For a quick weeknight meal, you can swap in store-bought slaw and salsa. 

Ingredients

  • Batter

    • 2 large egg whites
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt or to taste
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 cup Mexican beer, preferably a light beer (but anything short of a very dark, bitter beer will work)
  • Fish tacos

    • Canola oil or safflower for shallow-frying
    • 1 pound mild, firm white fish fillets, such as tilapia, cod, haddock, or halibut, cut into 1-x-4-inch strips
    • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Flour, for dusting
    • 12 corn or flour tortillas, warmed
    • Creamy slaw (recipe follows)
    • Chipotle, peanut, and sesame seed salsa (recipe follows)
  • Creamy slaw (makes 3 cups)

    • 1/2 cup Mexican crema, crème fraîche, or sour cream
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
    • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
    • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • Chipotle, peanut, and sesame seed salsa

    • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
    • 1/2 cup unsalted raw peanuts
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
    • 2 ounces (1½ to 2 cups) dried chipotle chiles, stemmed and seeded
    • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar or to taste
    • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt or to taste
    • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • Fish tacos

    • Canola oil or safflower for shallow-frying
    • 1 pound mild, firm white fish fillets, such as tilapia, cod, haddock, or halibut, cut into 1-x-4-inch strips
    • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Flour, for dusting
    • 12 corn or flour tortillas, warmed
    • Creamy slaw (recipe follows)
    • Chipotle, peanut, and sesame seed salsa (recipe follows)
  • Creamy slaw (makes 3 cups)

    • 1/2 cup Mexican crema, crème fraîche, or sour cream
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
    • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
    • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • Chipotle, peanut, and sesame seed salsa (makes 3 cups)

    • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
    • 1/2 cup unsalted raw peanuts
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
    • 2 ounces (1½ to 2 cups) dried chipotle chiles, stemmed and seeded
    • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar or to taste
    • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt or to taste
    • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Preparation

1. To make the batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until stiff but not dry peaks form.

2. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cumin, then whisk in the beer. In four additions, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg whites, taking care not to deflate the whites.

3. To make the fish tacos: Pour the oil into a 12-inch heavy skillet or casserole to a depth of ¼ inch and heat over medium heat for at least 5 minutes. Test the heat by dipping a wooden spoon or the tip of a piece of fish into the oil: It should bubble happily around whatever you dip into it. Set a cooling rack on a baking sheet and cover the rack with paper towels. If you don't have a cooling rack, just cover the baking sheet with paper towels.

4. While the oil is heating, season the fish sticks lightly with salt and pep-per. Place the flour on a plate and, one at a time, gently press each fish stick into the flour, flip over, and flour the other side. Tap off excess flour and place on a plate.

5. When the oil is hot, one by one, dip the floured fish sticks into the batter and immediately, but gently, place in the hot oil. Add only as many as you can without crowding the pan. Fry until crisp and light golden brown on the first side, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and repeat on the other side for 2 to 3 minutes, or until crisp and light golden. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and place on the rack. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm while you cook the remaining fish.

6. Serve with the warm tortillas, slaw, and salsa macha!

For slaw:

Combine the cream, mayonnaise, lime juice, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl and mix well. Add the cabbage and toss with the dressing. Taste and adjust the salt. Serve.

For salsa:

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the peanuts and garlic cloves and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds, or just until they begin to color. Be on the lookout, as peanuts can be deceiving and not really reveal how brown they are getting until it is too late. Add the sesame seeds and chiles and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the chiles are lightly toasted.

2. Transfer the contents of the pan, including all of the oil, to a food processor or blender. Add the sugar, salt, and vinegar and process until smooth. Pour into a container, let cool, and refrigerate if you are not using the salsa that day.

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