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Fish Tacos

  • j

I would like to make fish tacos at home. A couple of questions -

1. I woud like to cook them in a few tablespoons of oil in a saute pan - not deep fry. Can I still use a beer batter? If not , what would be a good coating - I want crispy. Just flour? Panko? Cornmeal?

2. What would be a good fish to use if cooking in a saute pan? I don't like talipa. I fried cod once this way, but it fell apart - I guess that doesn't matter since itis going into a taco.

Thank you.

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  1. I would quickly deep fry....beer batter would work...so would a cornmeal/flour mixture.
    Catfish would be my choice of fish.......


    1 Reply
    1. re: Uncle Bob

      I've used fried catfish "fingers" with great success:
      Slice the fish into strips and marinate in a covered bowl with Dijon mustard, egg white and hot sauce (I use Tabasco) 1 hour. Make sure the fish is evenly coated with the marinade.

      Combine yellow cornmeal, AP flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Remove the fish from the marinade, season with S & P, dredge the fish in the flour mixture. Pan fry the strips in a few tablespoons of canola or corn oil to the necessary doneness..."golden brown and crispy." Lay each piece on a paper towel when removed from the pan.

    2. I've had good luck with dipping in buttermilk then cornmeal. I usually start fish on the stove and finish in the oven, and this gets pretty crisp - but not like deep fried.

      1. try an egg wash and rolled in rice flour or panko for a crispy pan-fried texture. Another technique is to toss fresh breadcrumbs (not too fine) in a bit of melted butter and toast in the oven, let cool and then use the eggwash and dip in your buttered breadcrumbs and bake on an oven rack (a la Cook's Illustrated technique) for a crispy coating that reduces the amount of fat.

        13 Replies
        1. re: weezycom

          i really like a beer batter. i cut fish into relatively large chunks, dip into beer batter then fry in hot peanut oil.
          also, don't ruin it by using pre-fried taco shells. frying corn tortillas yourself takes such a small amount of time and gives such a huge payoff!!!

          1. re: raygunclan

            I would only use soft tortillas for fish.

            1. re: c oliver

              I think a fresh fried tortilla sounds perfect, especially if it's lean fish and it's grilled.

              1. re: c oliver

                Heretic that I am, I use flour torts.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  I'm pro heresy. As a general rule, and especially in this case.

                  1. re: jvanderh

                    I think good flour tortillas are easier to find than good corn ones. I just bought a press and will be making my own soon.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I like a rolling pin for flour tortillas. The press just doesn't do as good a job.


                      1. re: Davwud

                        One trick I learned from my darling Sam is to put them between plastic wrap or wax paper before pressing.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Lucky you, you will probably never go back to store bought. And I know parchment will work as well as waxed paper.

                          1. re: c oliver


                            I know who gave him that tip.


                            1. re: Davwud

                              And the circle goes unbroken?

                              He also advised me to use the tortilla press when making Asian dumplings and then roll out the edges thinner. I miss Sam every day.

                              1. re: c oliver


                                And actually, better than plastic wrap IMHO is to cut the top off a zip top bag and then slit the sides to make it hinged only at the bottom. It works great.


                                1. re: Davwud

                                  Yeah, I think Alan Barnes told me about that one. I've learned so much here.

            2. You can use snapper and grouper as well, although those are pricey fish next to tilapia.

              5 Replies
              1. re: sufunsified

                I believe mahi mahi is used as well, although I've not tried it.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  Mahi mahi is used all the time in tacos, and I don't think it's a good choice. It's way too assertive, firm and fishy for me. Actually, it's possibly the only fish I normally avoid.

                  I like many mild white fish in tacos, though I don't normally use any kind of coating. Perch, catfish, tilapia -- whatever you have works well. I broil them with a little neutral oil. But if you really want crispy, try thin fillets in a milk - flour - egg - cornmeal breading, and then broil them (flipping once) instead of frying. It gets really nicely crispy, and in a taco, you'd never miss the deep frying.

                  I also really enjoy a local restaurant's rendition that's made with half halibut, half salmon, served with a fairly spicy tomato salsa and a semi-chunky guacamole in flour tortillas (an ingredient I normally avoid). They put a leaf of romaine inside each tortilla before the rest of the ingredients, and it holds everything together and keeps the tortilla from going soggy. Really good.

                  1. re: dmd_kc

                    I blacken my tilapia for tacos. Negative points for authenticity; huge plus points for deliciousness.

                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                        blackening is one of my favorite ways to consume fish. taco or no.

                2. Another fish option is sole; it can be coated and sautes very easily. Mahi Mahi is very common here in Calif.; it tastes great as long as it's fresh and not over cooked. As for tortilla suggestions, for fish tacos, the best way to go is to either steam the corn tortillas or warm them in the oven. They shouldn't be fried.

                  1 Reply
                  1. There's no reason why you have to use batter coated fish a.k.a. Baja style.

                    - Grill or bake a piece of the firm flesh fish of your choice, then separate into bite size chunks
                    - Steam the freshest corn tortillas that you can find, preferably 'mini' size and use TWO per taco
                    - Make some fresh salsas, say two kinds for comparison :-)
                    - Other condiments: crema, minced cilantro, white onion, green onion, finely sliced cabbage


                    Link to grilled fish taco story: http://www.chow.com/stories/11749

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: DiveFan

                      Just a note, I'm not from Baja, but I do eat a lot of fish tacos, and most are not battered & fried.

                      And don't forget the crunchy, sweet note to the taco, some shredded fresh cabbage............

                    2. I've been using cod cut into .75 x .75 x 3 inches (approx), dipping in beaten egg, then rolling in finely ground dry rice (blender, or spice grinder), then pan frying in as little oil as I can use. This gives a very nice, crisp and crunchy crust! I then use a romaine leaf and wrap it up with a nice slaw and avocado slice. Or you could use a tortilla, but I'm trying to do low carb. I really love this.

                      1. I've been using cod. I mix one cup beer and one cup flour. Dip the filets in the batter, let extra drip off. I used to deep fry but now I put it in perhaps a quarter inch of oil. Cook til golden,turn and cook other side. Easier and less messy than anything I'd done previously.

                        1. I don't like to deep fry, but the family demands some sort of crunchy coating. I soak the whole filets of cod in buttermilk for an hour, then cut into chunks. I use a recipe from Epicurious that has you dredge the fish in seasoned self-rising flour. Fried in a think layer of oil, works really well. I don't like the texture of cornmeal as I find it heavy.

                          1. When I make them I go fairly simple. I use talapia and season with Tone's southwest chipotle seasoning and bake covered until done. I flake the fish and serve with various condiments.

                            Pickled red onions and guac. are a good choice for condiments.


                            1. I usually grill (or broil if it's cold and snowy out) cod or walleye. I know it's odd, but I live in Kansas, and walleye is sometimes the freshest fish. I usually sprinkle the fillets with a spice mixture with cayenne. It's not like the fish tacos I've had in soCal, but they're tasty with some finely shredded cabbage, tomatillo salsa and crema. Much easier, with less clean up for a weeknight than deep frying. Pan frying with a splatter screen or cooking panko coated and oil sprayed stovetop then finishing in cast iron in a hot oven also works and is less messy than deep frying. I use the last two for chicken, too.

                              1. wonder what the sauce is made of? sour cream/mayo/lime juice?
                                because if there's more please inform. TIA