Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos


Lovers of fish tacos fall into two camps: fried and not-fried. I tend toward the fried side as I really like the crunch, but in this case the marinade brings enough flavor to the party to make up for any lack of crunch.

Fish Tacos
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FISH TACO
  1. 3 cloves garlic
  2. 1 cup packed cilantro leaves
  3. Zest from 2 limes
  4. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  6. 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  7. 1/4 cup tequila
  8. 1 pound tilapia fillets
  9. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  10. 8 (7-inch) round flour tortillas, recipe below
  11. Crema, recipe below
  12. Shredded red cabbage
  13. Lime wedges
FLOUR TORTILLAS
  1. 9 ounces all-purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup for kneading and rolling
  2. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  3. 1/3 cup lard
  4. 1/2 cup cool water
CREMA
  1. 1 cup heavy cream
  2. 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  3. 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  4. 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Pulse the garlic, cilantro, lime zest, cumin, salt and pepper in a small food processor for 20 seconds. Then, with the processor running, add the tequila.
  2. Place the tilapia fillets into a 1 gallon zip-top bag, add the paste and move around to coat each fillet. Work as much air out of the bag as possible, seal and aside at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  3. Heat an electric non-stick griddle to 375 degrees F. (I really like the griddle for this but in a pinch you can do this in a cast iron pan parked over medium heat for 10 minutes.)
  4. Brush the griddle with the olive oil and cook the fillets 3 minutes per side or until just cooked through and opaque. Cut into strips and serve in warm tortillas with crema, shredded red cabbage and lime juice.
FLOUR TORTILLAS
  1. Combine 9 ounces flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor, pulsing 2 to 3 times.
  2. Add the lard in 4 to 5 chunks and pulse 10 times or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the processor running, add the water in a steady stream until a ball of dough begins to form, approximately 30 seconds.
  3. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of flour on a clean surface. Remove the dough from the bowl of the processor and knead for 2 to 3 minutes or until most of the flour has absorbed and the dough is less sticky.
  4. Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
  5. Evenly divide the dough into 8 pieces and form into round balls. Roll each ball into 7-inch rounds with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Keep all dough balls covered with a tea towel.
  6. Heat an electric non-stick griddle to 375 degrees F.
  7. Place the tortillas, 2 to 3 at a time, onto the griddle and cook for 4 minutes per side or until light golden. Hold for up to 2 hours at room temperature wrapped in a barely damp tea towel. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Microwave for 1 minute in the damp tea towel to reheat.
CREMA
  1. Place heavy cream in a microwave-safe 16 ounce glass jar and microwave on high 30 to 40 seconds or until cream is just under 100 degrees F. Add the buttermilk, close jar and store in a warm place for 24 hours. The cream will have thickened to the consistency of thin yogurt.
  2. Add the chipotle chile and salt and process with an immersion blender, in the jar, until smooth, approximately 20 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Notes
  1. Yield: 4 to 6 servings
ALTON BROWN http://altonbrown.com/
Alton Brown's Flour Tortilla Recipe

24 Comments

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  1. 1
    Donna Huswick

    Just an fyi, not all fish marketec as tilapia IS tilapia, but it doesnt matter to me. It IS a garbage fish, farmed in less than sanitary conditions.

    • 2
      danny orlando

      Donna, you are right. Tilapia is an unsafe and unhealthy fish. We are not fish snobs, but educated cooks. A fish like Dolphin would do much better because it is a meatier more dense fish.

  2. 3
    Rob

    I see we have some fish snobs here tonight. Tilapia works just fine for fish tacos. I make fish tacos all the time with them. Turn out great and my kids love them. This recipe sounds better that what I make though so will try. I prefer mahi mahi myself but the kids like the lighter taste and flakiness of the Tilapia.

  3. 4
    Gwen Christie

    Since I have to be gluten-free, I use corn tortillas. Also, a jicama slaw is great! Since I am a southerner, I like freshwater fish in my fish tacos too.

    • 5
      Doug Veronda

      Hey Gwen, I love the name Gwen. You can use any fish/seafood that you love. I love ahi (yellowfin tuna) I love making steaks with it and wasabi the the rice and salad … the works. It’s great.
      But here in SD we may not have the time and we make a Fish Taco.
      We have the beans we have the rice, the shredded cabbage, the onion, the tomato, the chilantro and hot sauce.. It’d good anytime.
      Gwen, You gata do your thing.

  4. 6
    Agnes

    I’d like to make these for my family, which has two kiddos…any recommendations on what I could sub the tequila with that would replace its bite?

    • 7
      Meghan

      The tequila is used in the marinade, so the full 1/4 cup will not be in the final dish. Since that 1/4 cup produces at least 4 servings, and you remove the fish from the marinade before cooking, and the cooking itself will burn off some (not all) of the alcohol – I would not worry about serving to children.
      If serving someone with strict medical / religious requirements, I would just omit from the marinade and give the fish a good dose of lime juice when I flip the pieces while cooking.
      You could try cactus nectar or agave juice as a substitute – neither will likely have the “bite”. You could try rosewater to duplicate the floral notes of tequila, again will be missing the alcohol “bite”.

  5. 10
    Garrison

    If Tilapia isn’t good enough for you what is a fish that is, but
    is also cheap, readily available, and sustainable?
    And that won’t over power the dish.
    And by the way you CAN get good quality “un-china” tilapia!
    Tilapia is perfect for THIS dish since it won’t fall apart and has a subtle flavour.

    • 11
      Doug

      We use in San Diego Yellowtail, Mahi Mahi, ahi tuna you can put any good quality seafood in a ‘fish taco’ Yea squid/lobster is good too. It’s a fish taco. Use the best and it will taste the best.

  6. 13
    Ted

    Tilapia? Not a shot. They’re an awful trash fish that mostly comes from farms in China these days.

    Use fresh cod, haddock, monkfish, or any other wild caught, mild white fish.

  7. 15
    Pam

    Tilapia!!! What!?! Say it isn’t so, AB. Tilapia is terrible. Cod is the best choice, or any other wild caught white fish. Never, ever tilapia. I always ask in restaurants, and if they say they use tilapia I either order something else or leave.

  8. 17
    Candace

    Alton, we don’t all have your fancy pants kitchen appliances. Immersion blender? Alternative??
    Can I just dump it in a blender?

    • 18
      Jason

      As Alton might say, you can DO anything you want- they’re you’re groceries… Try it with a blender but have some paper towels on hand or you take your security deposit into your own hands!

    • 20
      Meghan

      So the goal is to get the pepper well combined with the dairy. Any equipment or method that gets you to a smoothness that makes you happy is acceptable. I think the immersion blender is recommended just from an ease of use standpoint – no major set-up and the one one item dirtied is easily just rinsed off. Using a regular blender will probably be fine, with basically one cup of liquid you’re not really getting good utilization. Personally, if I were in the wilderness-cabin scenario and did not have easy access to an immersion blender I’d just mash the heck out of the pepper with a knife – same way you would make a paste out of garlic. Stir that into the dairy and I think I could live with the variable texture – after all you’re eating it on a bunch of different textures so non-blended pepper chunks are more of a visual thing anyway.

  9. 21
    Mar

    I had some great ones off a food truck on Kauai too but the fish was Mahi Mahi. Tilapia is a nasty Asian farm fish. I wouldn’t use it.

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