The pandemic has kept us all at home this past year. As a result, our culinary confidences have experienced a nice boost. Here's Tim's take on fish tacos. Simple and delicious, give this recipe a try next time you're hankering for some fish tacos...which is pretty much a daily craving for us.
Here in Virginia Beach, we are experiencing the benefits that two consecutive mild winters have had on our speckled trout fishery. It has flat out been on fire. You can target speckled trout here year round if you have the patience and tolerance for the cold, but the quantity of quality fish around is impressive.
Being able to work from home during the lockdown allowed me to make some weekday early morning strike missions to everyone’s favorite inlet. Given that word of the bite travels fast and everyone was working home or had been laid off the inlet was packed like I had never seen it. Getting on the water by 4-4:30 am, and off by sunrise proved to be a productive and less crowded strategy.
Speckled trout is not only my favorite inshore fish to catch, but my favorite to cook. And as my great grandmother said, “the best seafood is the seafood you catch.” Now, I love cooking pretty regularly, but not being able to go to restaurants and the monotony of the daily routine pushed me to mix things up a bit. I typically blacken the fish I catch, but decided to go with a different approach that I haven’t done in awhile, beer battered. Here is one of my favorite fish taco recipes with a homemade corn salsa and Baja sauce.
First up, is the corn salsa. I made the decision to document the meal preparation after the corn salsa was already prepared so forgive me for not having a shot of the ingredients. Nonetheless, all you need is either a small bag of frozen sweet corn or a can of sweet corn, one large jalapeno, one small red onion, salt, pepper, one or two large limes, and fresh cilantro if that suites you.
If you choose the frozen sweet corn, set the bag out to thaw before you mix the ingredients. Simply seed and dice up the jalapeno and peel and dice up the red onion. Mix the corn, jalapeno, and onion in a bowl. Slice the limes and squeeze the juice into the bowl or use a juicer to get the juice and pour into the bowl. With the corn, jalapeno, onion, and lime juice in the bowl, mix everything up and add salt and pepper to taste. If you are a cilantro fan, just dice up the cilantro and garnish on top. Place the salsa into the fridge as we move on to the Baja sauce.
I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. I am a condiment/sauce whore (I spend most of my time in the sauce aisle of the grocery store) and don’t even speak to me if you don’t put some sort of sauce/aioli on your tacos.
It could just be some sour cream, but the coolness of a sauce/aioli on a fish taco is crucial.
Given the spirit of mixing things up, I tried making a Baja sauce of my own. The ingredients were simple as you can see in the photo. All you need is a half cup of mayonnaise, half cup of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, lime juice, one jalapeno, half a can of green chilies, and some seasoning. I used Old Bay.
After you seed and dice up the jalapeno, throw everything into a bowl and mix. Or, if you’re feeling fancy and Top Chef-ish, throw everything into a blender or smoothie maker and mix it up. Add more seasoning or lime juice to taste if need be. Put in the fridge with the salsa and it is time to beer batter the fish.
Beer battering fish is a great way to add some crunch and flavor while not over cooking the fish. Most beer batters call for flour, but I found a recipe years ago that called for Bisquick and I’ve been using that ever since.
We used gluten free Bisquick by accident because I wasn’t paying attention when I grabbed the box, but they turned out great. In a large bowl pour about half of the Bisquick in and mix with some seasoning of your choice.
I like salt, pepper, and some seafood magic. To have the seasoning flavoring come through, make sure you can see that you’ve added some seasoning after you mix it up. Next, slowly pour in your beer.
A darker lager is typically best like a Pacifico, Yuengling, or Dos Equis Amber. I thought I had a Pacifico left in the fridge, but did not, so I used a Bud Light which worked fine. Stir the mix to get it where it is the consistency of a milkshake. Now it is time to cook.
I like to cut the fillets into rectangular chunks pictured here. Heat a large pan with some vegetable oil. You want enough oil so that about half of the fish chunks are submerged, but not completely covered. Simply dunk the fish into the batter and put into the pan. Depending on how thick your fish chunks are it’ll take about a minute or two for each side.
You are going for a dark, golden brown look for a crunchier bite, the fish won’t be overcooked.
Remove the fish from the oil onto a plate with some paper towels to get the grease off. Once you’ve got them de-greased it is time to assemble your tacos.
Kirsti and I like to throw our flour tortillas into the toaster oven for a few seconds to warm them up before we assemble our tacos. I like to put some shredded cabbage on first, then the glorious looking beer battered fish chunks, and top it off with the corn salsa and a healthy drizzle of the baja sauce.
Feel free to throw on some cheese and hot sauce. I like to use Melinda’s Habanero Buffalo Sauce. Take a bite and thank me later.