I remember the first time I heard about Baja fish tacos. It was in the late 1980’s when my sister lived in San Diego, and Rubio’s opened a little store. She would call me with a crispy battered fish taco in hand, trying to describe how delicious it was, while slightly rubbing it in my face. It didn’t take much time for me to drive down to see her and discover just what she was talking about. The first bite of anything is always the best, and there’s no exception with a good Baja fish taco. It’s the layering of textures and flavors that make them so incredible, and still even after knowing what to expect when biting into a Baja fish taco, I have the same inviting experience every time I eat one.
Making Baja fish tacos at home isn’t difficult, and it starts with buying a good piece of cod. I have tried other fish for fish tacos, and I find that wild cod holds the right amount of moisture after being fried, and can handle a quick dunk in batter before frying without tearing. The end result is a beautifully cooked piece of fish with the best crunchy exterior you’ve ever tasted.
As for the condiments on a Baja fish taco, they are very necessary. A little shredded cabbage or slaw, tossed with lime juice and olive oil makes a perfect topping. A dollop of sour cream or Mexican crema, and salsa on top just layers on more flavor, and a few quick pickled red onions balances everything out.
Make sure you make a big batch of these fish tacos because I promise, you won’t be able to stop at just two, you might need to go in for a third. Every bite brings me back to the first time I had a Baja fish taco, they’re incredible, and now you don’t need to drive to San Diego or Mexico to enjoy one.
1 pound wild cod, cut into finger-size pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces light beer, any variety
2 cups shredded cabbage or bagged slaw mix
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 dozen corn tortillas
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup salsa, any variety
4 cups vegetable oil, I use Grapeseed
(Makes a Dozen Tacos)
- In a small saucepan, add vinegar, 1/2 cup water and sugar. Place over medium heat until boiling, stir. Add onion to a small bowl and pour pickling liquid over the top, set aside.
- In another bowl, toss cabbage with cilantro, lime juice and olive oil. Set in refrigerator until ready to serve.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt, whisk together. Add beer and whisk until smooth.
- Pour oil in a large Dutch oven or pot and place over medium heat. Heat oil to 350 degrees, (or until you can hear it ping slightly). Dip fish into batter in batches, and place in oil to cook, about 4 minutes a side, or until deep golden brown. Remove and place on a wire rack resting on a sheet pan. Sprinkle fish with salt. Repeat until all fish are cooked.
- Toast tortillas over an open flame or under broiler. Place one or two pieces of fish in a tortilla, top with cabbage mix, sour cream, salsa and pickled onions. Enjoy!