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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fish Tacos

We prepared some very tasty fish tacos recently, which turned out to be un-tacos, I guess, because we didn't end up wrapping them in the tortillas, but they were darn good nonetheless.  We fried up some tilapia fillets coated with a smoky, spicy batter, served them with fresh, crispy veggies, and drizzled on a citrusy dressing.

I read in a Cooks Illustrated magazine article that there's something that gives catfish and tilapia a "dirt" flavor.  They said to soak catfish or tilapia in buttemilk to eliminate the problem.  It seemed to work really well in this recipe.

Fish Tacos

3 tilapia fillets
enough buttermilk to soak the fillets (about 2 cups)
Peanut oil or vegetable oil for frying

1/2 cup flour

1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 can or bottle of beer
2 tablespoons salt
1-2 tablespoons chipotle chile powder (depending on how much heat you like)
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder

Zest and juice of 2 limes
Juice of 1 pomelo *
Juice of 1 ripe tomato
2-3 tablespoons pomegranate vinegar *
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste

Veggie Fillings
Shredded Cabbage
Thin Sliced Radishes
Thin Sliced Green Onions
Chopped Cilantro
Any other veggies you'd like with your fish tacos

Rinse your tilapia fillets and place in a shallow dish.  Pour buttermilk over tilapia.  Refrigerate and turn the fish over with tongs every few hours to be sure it's evenly soaked in buttermilk.

Get your batter station ready.  Put the 1/2 cup of flour in one shallow bowl.  Prepare the batter in another bowl by wisking the egg, adding the flour, spices, and beer, and wisking to combine.

Heat oil in a saucepan.  I like to use a small saucepan so as not to use much oil and therefore I cut the filets into smaller portions.  You can tell that the oil is hot enough when a sprinkle of flour "sizzles" in the oil.

Remove the fillets from the buttermilk.  Cut your fish filets if necessary so they'll fit into the  pan in which they'll be fried.  Dredge each piece of tiplapia in the plain flour.  Dip into the batter, then lift out of the batter and let the excess drain away a bit.  Then gently lower into the cooking oil.  Cook for a couple of minutes, until nicely golden brown, turning one or twice during the cooking.  A spatter guard is a really good idea to help prevent "fried kitchen" when you're frying the fish!

* Frugality is the name of the game.  Frugality doesn't necessarily mean cooking cheap, but it does mean cooking smart, using everything and not wasting anything.  We love to cook and we enjoy searching for great ingredients.  We're also blessed to live in Carrollton, Texas, which is in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and which is becoming a mecca for ethnic food markets.  For us it's easy and frugal to have ingredients on hand that some cooks might consider exotic.  If you don't have easy access to international markets or you don't cook frequently, substitute juice from an orange or grapefruit for the pomelo juice and substitute red wine vinegar for the pomegranate vinegar.  It's just a waste to spend big bucks and extra effort procuring specialty ingredients unless you'll really use them.

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