Grilled fish tacos are absolutely great, but fried fish tacos are truly special: extra crunch, a little more decadence, a perfect counterpoint to creamy sauce and slaw. Here’s how to make the perfect beer-battered fish tacos, courtesy of Uno Dos Tacos in San Francisco.
The classic fish taco—battered and fried, cabbage-stuffed—might have originated in San Felipe, the Baja California gulf town south of Mexicali, or in Ensenada, a three-hour drive northwest to the Pacific. Nobody knows, not really. But while the fish taco’s origins are obscure, its ubiquity is in no doubt.
A taco is a miniaturist’s dream, a thing with so few elements that you judge it against other tacos by the small things. At Uno Dos Tacos in San Francisco, Luis Flores beer-batters Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), and tops it with a chipotle mayo cut with yogurt. This recipe calls for multiple steps, but all of them are easy enough to pull off on a summer evening. Chill the Coronas, cue up Dick Dale on Pandora, and go for it.
You can fry the fish in a deep cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, but if you have a deep fryer in your kitchen arsenal, now’s the perfect time to use it.
Makes 8 tacos
For the beer batter:
For the chipotle mayo:
For the tacos:
Step 1: In a medium mixing bowl, make the batter by combining the flour, garlic salt, and cayenne. Add the beer and whisk until well combined. Set aside to rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.
Step 2: Make the chipotle mayo by combining the ketchup, yogurt, mayonnaise, and chipotle chiles in a medium bowl and whisking till blended. Set this aside. (If you have a squeeze bottle, you can fill it with the sauce; otherwise, spoon it on when the time comes to assemble your tacos.)
Step 3: Cut the cabbage into strips, toss it with a pinch of salt and pepper, and set aside.
Step 4: Cut the cod into 2-inch strips. Use a paper towel to blot the pieces dry, then season with salt and pepper.
Step 5: Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet to 350°F (the fish pictured here is being lowered into the Uno Dos Tacos deep-fryer). Line a platter with several layers of paper towels; set aside.
Step 6: With tongs, dip 1 piece of fish at a time into the beer batter. Let the excess batter drip off.
Step 7: Carefully lower the fish into the hot oil. Fry the fish in 3 to 4 batches, turning once, until the pieces are deep golden brown and crisp on the outside with a flaky interior, about 6 minutes total.
Step 8: Remove the fish to the prepared platter.
Step 9: To assemble the tacos, heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet on high until it’s hot, about 4 minutes. Place a tortilla in the dry pan and heat, flipping once, until warmed on both sides. Wrap the tortilla in a clean dishtowel to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Step 10: To build your tacos, take a warm tortilla and squeeze or spoon on some of the chipotle mayo.
Step 11: Add a piece of fish, the seasoned cabbage, some pico de gallo, and a squeeze of lime. Repeat with all of the tortillas and serve at once. ¡Buen provecho!
Note: This post was originally published on July 21, 2014.