When the craving for fried fish wrapped in a corn tortilla strikes, there’s only one place that comes to my mind. Dia De Pesca. It’s an unassuming place that originally sold food out of a trailer parked in a parking lot. Not usually the place you’d want to go to when craving for fish tacos. Yet, had a co-worker not told me about this place, I never would have experienced delicious breaded halibut fish tacos that were sold out of a trailer parked in a parking lot. It’s a charming, homey taqueria that I visit often.
Tonight, I was requested to make fish tacos. Having never made them before, I accepted the challenge. I wanted my first attempt at fish tacos to be worthy of the standard set by Dia De Pesca. Research was required. I jumped onto youtube and entered “Rick Bayless fish tacos” into the search field. I watched the entire video. You should too.
I was intrigued with the idea of integrating a garlic paste into the beer batter with other supporting characters including oregano, mustard plus an unusual addition: chicken base or bouillon. I have never cooked with the stuff, but then again, there’s a first time for everything. It added a savoriness to the batter that really worked well with the fish.
To save time, I bought pre-made pico de gallo, guacamole and salsa casera from my nearby Mexican grocery store. More power to you if you make these from scratch. Me, I’m lazy. And Chavez Supermarket’s salsa and guacamole are fantastic. And I’m lazy.
Here’s my adaptation of Rick Bayless’ Classic Ensenada Fish Tacos. Did it stand on its own compared to Dia De Pesca? Yes I think so, as there was nothing leftover tonight.
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- Kosher Salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh black pepper
- ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon concentrated chicken base or chicken-flavor powdered bouillon
- 1 cup beer (Tecate, Dos Equis or Corona)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 pound boneless, skinless halibut filets
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup Mexican Crema or sour cream
- ¼ cup milk
- 8-12 warm corn tortillas
- 1 cup or more of thinly sliced cabbage
- Pico de gallo salsa, salsa casera for toppings
- 2-3 limes, cut into wedges
- Prepare the batter. Peel and chop the 2 garlic cloves, then sprinkle generously with salt. Mash the garlic and salt together with the side of your knife across the cutting board until it turns into a puree. Alternatively, you can use a mortar and pestle for this task. Scrape into a medium bowl and add the oregano, black pepper, mustard, chicken base or bouillon, beer, and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the flour and baking powder to the wet ingredients and whisk just until combined. Do not over mix.
- Fry the fish. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet or deep fryer set to 370 degrees. While the oil is heating, cut the halibut filets into pieces about 3 inches long by ½ inch square. Think short fish sticks. Use a pair of tongs to pick up a piece of fish, dip it completely into the batter, then drop it into the oil. Continue with 4-5 more pieces of fish but making sure not to crowd the fish in the oil. Fry until the pieces are golden and crisp. This takes 4-5 minutes. Remove the fish pieces from the oil and drain on a paper towel. You can keep the pieces warm in a low oven on a wire rick, set over a sheet pan lined with paper towels while you continue frying the remaining fish pieces.
- Serve. Mix together the mayonnaise, crema or sour cream, and milk. If you want, you can add hot sauce to this mixture to spice things up. Set out the cabbage, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, limes and crispy fish so that your family and friends can build their own tacos.