This is my spin on a classic recipe from west coast Baja Mexico. I have had it served with both halibut and mahi-mahi. The ocean fish is traditionally breaded and deep-fried, but you can also get it grilled. I like it both ways, but the deep fried version is more authentic. Choose only the freshest fish — it should be market fresh and no more than a day old. Here in Wisconsin, you may have to settle for Atlantic cod fish, as halibut and mahi-mahi are extremely hard to find. Charred corn tortillas are traditionally a staple with this recipe. The bright color and vibrant flavors are perfect for summer get-togethers. Enjoy-
1 pound fresh, firm ocean whitefish like halibut or mahi-mahi (you may substitute Atlantic cod fish in a pinch)
For the Beer Batter~
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup cornmeal (masa)
12 oz. Mexican lager beer (Dos Equis)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbs. ground ancho chili powder
1 tsp. ground chipotle chili powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin, from toasted seed
1 tsp. garlic granules
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
2 tsp. baking powder
Six-inch fresh corn tortillas; preferably home-made, charred over a gas stove burner or with a propane torch
1 quart peanut oil for frying
Prepare the salsa and set aside for an hour in the fridge. Prepare the crema and set aside in your fridge for at least two hours for the flavors to set.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the batter ingredients. Mix until just smooth and set aside for one hour before cooking.
Cut up the fish into 1/2″ by 2″ chunks and allow to sit on a serving plate, blotted with paper towel. Ensure most of the moisture is removed from the fish before frying. You may need to switch out the paper towel when it becomes saturated.
Next, place the fish pieces in the batter and evenly coat.
Heat a 4-quart cast-iron chicken fryer over medium heat with 1 quart of peanut oil. When the oil is ready for frying, a drop of cold water should sizzle on contact.
Working in batches, carefully place 10 to 12 pieces of battered fish in the fryer and cook until darkly-golden brown. Remove promptly with a strainer and set aside on paper towel to drain.
Serve over charred corn tortillas with the red cabbage, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, Pico de Gallo salsa, Mexican crema and hot sauce.
NOTE: For a crunchier coating, reserve the Panko bread crumbs in a separate mixing bowl and double the volume to one cup. After dipping the fish chunks in the batter, roll in the Panko crumbs, then deep-fry as shown.