Rick Bayless’ Classic Ensenada Fish Tacos

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My husband loves to go fishing. He doesn’t get the opportunity to go very often, and he doesn’t have a lot of luck catching many fish, but it is a peaceful and relaxing activity for him. My son enjoys it now too! When we heard about a sunset fishing boat excursion near our home, my husband brought my son as a surprise. The boat took them out into the Long Island Sound where they both caught porgy and bass- and had a great time together! 🙂

I had to make something special with this super-fresh fish. For my son there was no question- I had to make fish tacos. I had been excited to try the “perfect fish tacos” from a recent issue of Bon Appetit. My fishermen rejected the recipe. 😦 Rick Bayless recipes are always welcome in our home, so I chose this version instead.

The batter smelled AMAZING. (I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a batter!) After cooking all of the fish, I realized that I forgot to add the garlic to the amazing-smelling batter… gasp! This may have been a first for me…. I added garlic to the creamy sauce instead, which was wonderful. Next time, I would add the garlic to the batter and the sauce! I modified the recipe below. This recipe was adapted from Mexico-One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless, via rickbayless.com.

These were the best fish tacos I have ever made- and possibly the best I’ve ever eaten. Special fish! 🙂 I’m sharing this dish with my friends at Fiesta Friday #38 this week at The Novice Gardener. Enjoy!

Servings: about 12 tacos, 4 to 6 servings

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, separated
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano or Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated chicken base
  • 1 cup beer (I used Brooklyn Brewery’s Octoberfest)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil to a depth of 1/2-inch for frying (I used Canola)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless fish filets (preferably larger-flake, lighter-flavored fish—like halibut, sea bass, grouper, etc)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
  • 12 warm corn tortillas
  • 1 cup (or more) thinly sliced cabbage (preferably Napa cabbage)
  • About 1 cup salsa (such as toasted arbol chile salsa, roasted green chile salsa, roasted tomatillo salsa or even one of the Mexican hot sauces like Tamazula or Valentina) (I used Frontera Chipotle Salsa)
  • 2 or 3 limes, cut into wedges
  1. Make the batter: 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, chicken base, beer, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the flour and baking powder to the wet ingredients and whisk just until combined.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet to 370 degrees. (I used a candy thermometer.) 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 2-3 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.
  3. Make the sauce: Push the 2 remaining garlic cloves through a garlic press. Mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream and milk. Add the garlic and stir to combine.
  4. Serve the sauce along with the cabbage, salsa, warm corn tortillas, limes and the crispy fish for everyone to make tacos.

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