Baja Fish Tacos


Baja Fish Tacos | Culinary Compost Recipes

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-

INGREDIENTS:

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

Top With~
Finely-sliced red cabbage
Diced avocado
Chopped cilantro
Mike’s Pico de Gallo salsa
Mike’s Mexican Chipotle-Lime Crema
Your choice of Mexican hot table sauce

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

 

DIRECTIONS:

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.

Serves 4-6

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.

Baja Fish Tacos | Culinary Compost Recipes

A four-quart cast-iron chicken fryer is ideal for this recipe. You only need a couple inches of peanut oil.

 

Advertisements

Mike’s Backwoods Holler Rub


Mike's Backwoods Holler Rub | Culinary Compost RecipesThis is an excellent rub for fresh-caught lake fish or beer-can chicken. Use on tilapia, catfish, bass, bluegills, salmon, walleye and Northern pike. When applied to chicken, brush with XV olive oil first, and then let the bird sit overnight in the fridge so the flavors can adhere to the skin. I highly recommend making a double batch — you’ll be using that much anyway so you’ll save time by preparing it up front.

 

Ingredients:

1 tbs. Kosher salt
4 tbs. Hungarian paprika
1 tbs. ground ancho chili
1 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper (medium-grind)
1 tbs. thyme (crushed in mortar)
1 tbs. dry rosemary (crushed in mortar)
2 tsp. garlic granules
1 tsp. chipotle powder (hot Meco preferred)
1 tsp. ground coriander

 

Directions:

Measure ingredients exactly and funnel into a pint mason jar. Cover and mix well. Will keep up to a year in a cool, dry storage cabinet before the flavors start to fade.

If you double the amount it makes just over 1 cup.

Mike's Backwoods Holler Rub | Culinary Compost Recipes

Experimenting with the ratio of spices. Needed more punch on the aromatics…

Mike’s Wisconsin Batter-Fried Bluegills


This recipe takes me back thirty-five years to my childhood in northern Wisconsin. My grandmother would fry up 60 fresh-caught bluegill fillets in a large black cast-iron skillet for the family. There is no better home-cooked meal – period. I hope you enjoy this special recipe as much as I do.

Ingredients:

30 bluegill fillets, cleaned and rinsed in cold water
1 quart vegetable oil
8 oz. buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1-1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat a 5-quart cast-iron dutch oven over medium-high with the vegetable oil. The oil will be ready for deep-frying when a drop of water sizzles on contact.

Place the buttermilk and egg in a wide, shallow baking dish. Whisk thoroughly. Place the bluegill fillets in the dish and coat evenly.

Prepare a two-quart plastic food storage bag with the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Shake well.

Shake off the fillets and add to the bag, about eight at a time. Coat evenly and transfer to the dutch oven; frying in batches. Deep fry until just lightly golden-brown. Ensure that the bluegill fillets are not overcooked. Using a Chinese spider strainer, remove and transfer to a heated platter with paper towel to absorb the excess frying oil.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges and tartar sauce.

Serves 4-6.

Wisconsin Beer Batter for Fish


This is a great recipe for true Wisconsin-style battered fish. This recipe will work well for two pounds of fish – whether it be fresh-caught bluegills or walleye pike. You can also double the recipe, but make sure to mix in TWO separate bowls (don’t combine in one bowl) or it will not come out right. My choice for beer — Leinenkugel’s Red Lager.

Don’t forget to let the batter sit for one hour before using.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. fish – your choice
1/2 cup flour
seasoned salt to taste
1 tbs. melted butter
2 eggs, beaten well
1/2 cup Wisconsin beer

Preparation:

Sift the flour and salt, add the butter and egg; add the beer gradually, stirring only until smooth.

Let stand for one hour at room temperature.

Dip fish in batter and fry in hot oil. Larger cuts of fish can be quartered into 2″ chunks for even cooking.

Beer-Battered Cod & Chips


If you’ve never lived in Wisconsin, you’ve missed out on a perennial favorite… the venerable “Friday Fish Fry.” Nobody outside of this state will know what the hell you are talking about if you ask for one. A seasonal favorite served on Fridays before Easter. This recipe also works well with haddock.

Ingredients:

4 large russet potatoes
3 quarts vegetable oil
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tsp. salt, divided
2 tsp. pepper, divided
2 tsp. garlic powder, divided
10 ounce ice cold English ale or club soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1-1/2 pounds skinless, boneless cod or haddock fillets cut into 2 inch bite size pieces
Malt vinegar
Lemon wedges

Preparation:

Cut peeled potatoes in half lengthwise; cut each half lengthwise again into 1/2″ thick wedges, placing potatoes into ice water as you work. Soak 20 minutes to an hour and then drain and blot dry with paper towels. This removes the starch.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, 1 tsp. salt and pepper, and 1 tsp. garlic powder. Add the ale and mix until smooth. Fold in the beaten eggs. Set aside for 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are soaking, fill a deep fat fryer or 6 quart, heavy saucepan with oil to a depth of 5-6 inches. Using a frying thermometer, slowly heat oil to a temperature of 325F.

Fry half of the potatoes until they just begin to turn golden around the edges, about 4-5 minutes. Remove chips with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels in a single layer until cool to the touch; repeat with the remaining wedges, allowing oil temperature to return to 325F before adding more. Raise oil temperature to 360F and preheat oven to 250F.

Re-fry potatoes in 3-4 batches (this keeps the oil from cooling too much) moving them constantly until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Allow oil to return to 360F between batches. Remove from oil and drain; transfer to paper to drain again, place in a single layer on a baking sheet and keep warm in the preheated oven.

Season 5 to 6 pieces of fish with salt and pepper, dredge in seasoned flour (using remaining 1 tsp. salt, pepper and garlic powder) and dip into the batter. Allow excess batter to drip off and then slip carefully into the hot oil. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp, deeply golden brown and cooked through with a moist interior. Remove from oil, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Keep warm while frying remaining fish in batches.

Serve with salt, lemon and malt vinegar.

Serves: 4