Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Fish Tacos!

I was feeling a bit uninspired looking for a recipe last week - I wasn't even sure where to begin looking because I was not in the mood for anything specific.  However, it was Cinco De Mayo, so that took me down a path that led to only good things.  The fantastic food blog We Are Not Martha featured a recipe for Crispy Fried Fish Tacos that looked like it would hit the spot.  To be honest, I had never fried fish at home so I was really curious to see how this was going to go - a fun challenge, shall we say.

Crispy Fish Tacos
The Necessities...
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Asian sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 lb. tilapia fillets, cut into 4×1 inch strips
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups panko
  • 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • corn tortillas, warmed
  • shredded lettuce leaves, cilantro, salsa, guacamole and sliced scallions, for serving
The Ingredients
When buying ingredients for recipes I see online I inevitably have to adapt and make some substitutions - not because of my weird tastes, but because I often shop at a small market that does not always have everything.  For some reason Savenor's does not carry hoisin sauce (I actually should just go out and buy it because this is not the first time it was called for and I had to scramble to find a replacement!)  In this case I ended up funding a fun replacement - a wasabi teriyaki sauce/marinade. 

First things first, I mixed the Asian sauce (the wasabi teriyaki substitution), the mayo and the lemon juice in a small bowl and set it aside for later.  A sweet pickled relish was suggested, but not being a fan of pickles at all, I had not problem skipping that part.  This ultimately served as a topping for the tacos.

Next, I added the flour, garlic salt, onion powder, salt and white pepper to a gallon zip lock bag and shook it all up so that everything mixed thoroughly.  I put the cubes of tilapia in the bag and coated each piece completely. 

Coating the fish
I highly recommend using the plastic bag approach.  I normally get flour everywhere and clean up becomes a pain, but this really helped.  This was the first time I saw this idea and will continue to use it forever - SO much easier!

Meanwhile, I added the panko to one small bowl and beat the two eggs in another.  Taking one piece of fish at a time, I first dipped the fish in the egg and then moved it to the panko. 

Coating the fish
When coating the fish, be sure to give the fish a good mix in the egg because the flour coating somewhat resisted the egg coating.  Also, the bread crumbs can clump a bit after a number of dips of the eggy fish, so I supplemented with some fresh crumbs as I moved along.

I took the coated fish and added it to a deep fry pan containing vegetable oil that was over medium/high heat.  I cooked each side for about 3-4 minutes - until the breading turned a crispy golden brown.

Getting Crispy
Once the fish is done cooking I placed the pieces on a plate covered in paper towels to absorb the excess grease.

While the fish was cooking, I cut up the lettuce, cilantro, and the scallions.

We fixed ourselves a pretty nice spread with all the fixings, including the green leafy stuff, salsa, guacamole and the special sauce described above.  I intended to have a couple small tortillas, but I could only find the 12" diameter variety you see them heating up at Chipotle, so our fish tacos sort of turned into a fried fish burrito that made for some interesting eating, but it was just as delicious!

A good spread
These tacos were delicious.  The fish was crispy and tender all at the same time.  The fried crust had a good seasoning to it.  I have become a full panko convert and really do not intend to use regular crumbs unless there is a VERY good reason.

My first fish fry went off without a hitch!  While there was a bit of a residual smell in the house I will definitely plan to make these again.


  1. what a perfect way to celebrate the holiday! you can never go wrong with fish tacos!

  2. Looks like you fried the fish perfectly. I still haven't made fish tacos at home, but they're on my list!


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