Thursday, April 21, 2011

Baja Fish Tacos

For the past seven and a half months, Ty and I have had an insatiable appetite for fish tacos. We enjoyed the official/original baja fish tacos on our honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas (located on a skinny strip of land also known as Baja California peninsula) and things haven't been the same since. Our resort, Zoetry, was mentioned last fall in Martha Stewart Weddings as one of four places honeymoon in Mexico. It is simply stunning ... if you go, get the fish tacos ... and the nachos ... and the pina coladas!

We've ordered fish tacos at Superior, formerly one of my menu favorites, and now they can't measure up and I don't order them anymore. Don't even try to order fish tacos at Oyster Bar. You can't taste the fish for all the tortilla. And Don Juanz Baja Fish Tacos is entirely too far to drive for a taco.

So when I found a delicious sounding fish taco recipe in my Dallas Dish cookbook, I knew it was time to gather ingredients. The recipe actually comes from Jim and Liz Baron, the owners of Blue Mesa Grill in Dallas. It's a fantastic Southwestern restaurant right across from Northpark Mall (although there are other locations) that serves as a nice spot for a shopping break.

There's a lot to the recipe and a few changes I made or recommend, but I'll share the original recipe with you so you can decide for yourself. I would break up the recipe into stages. You can make the slaw and mayonnaise first, so you only have to prep the fish when it comes time to dine. It also helps to have a brilliant fry cook. LJ, who claims she can't cook (not buying it), served wonderfully on the frying station. I would dredge, she would fry. This way none of the fish was overcooked.

See the recipe below and my notes in italics.

Baja Fish Tacos

Grilled Jicama Slaw
5 corn tortillas, cut into julienne strips
vegetable oil for frying
1 cup (1/4-inch) sliced peeled jicama
1/2 cup each julienned red, yellow and green bell pepper
1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
1 cup finely shredded green cabbage
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 shallot minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated cotija cheese or Parmesan cheese
  • Preheat the grill. Fry the tortilla chips in oil in a skillet until brown and crisp and drain on paper towels. (I skipped this step. The fish is crispy enough to give you a nice texture.)
  • Grill the jicama for 3 minutes or until the jicama has grill marks and is slightly softened. Cool and cut into julienne strips. (I'd never heard of jicama, pronounced hick-a-ma, but you can find it in the produce section near the potatoes and garlic and onions. I followed this step, but it didn't add much. It can easily be skipped and no one will notice.)
  • Toss the jicama, bell peppers, cabbage and tortilla strips in a bowl.
  • Wisk the canola oil, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, shallots and salt in a bowl until the canola oil is incorporated and pour over the jicama mixture. (I only used about half of the mixture and it was plenty.)
  • Sprinkle with the cheese and mix well.
Ancho Mayonnaise
1 cup mayonnaise
1 or 2 ancho chilies, roasted and chopped
  • Combine the mayonnaise and ancho chiles in a bowl and mix well. (I couldn't find ancho chilies at my grocery store, so I used canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. I pulled out the peppers, gave them a rough chop and put them in the food processor with the mayo to blend. It was full of flavor with a little kick!)
The Fish
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons each salt, garlic powder, dry mustard and dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup beer
1 pound mahi mahi
all-purpose flour
vegetable oil for deep frying
16 (6-inch) white corn tortillas, heated
  • Mix 1 cup flour, the salt, garlic powder, dry mustard, oregano and pepper in a bowl. Add the beer and stir until the batter is smooth.
  • Cut the fish into 2-inch strips and coat with additional flour, shaking off the excess. (I couldn't find mahi mahi, so I used tilapia, which held together well through the batter and frying)
  • Dip the fish in the batter and deep fry in the oil in a skillet for 2 to 3 minutes or until light brown. Drain on paper towels. (The batter is thick, so it helps to run your fingers down each fillet to pull off any excess batter. The fillets also have a tendency to sink when you drop them in the oil due to the heaviness of the batter. Be on hand to quickly remove them from the bottom of the pan or they will stick and be difficult to remove.)
  • Stack the tortillas 2 high for each taco and spread the top of each stack with Ancho Mayonnaise. Top each with equal portions of fried fish and grilled jicama slaw. Serves 4.
This recipe has come the closest to satisfying our cravings for Baja Fish Tacos. It'll be a great summer recipe for a lazy pool day or an intimate backyard party.


Lindsey said...

Do you ever go to Don Juanz in BC???? It is the absolute best!! so fresh and fab.

Stephanie Jordan said...

I've been over there before and really liked it. But we never drive that far to eat. It's really not that far, but when you factor in Airline traffic it seems far!

Meryl & Russell McLendon said...

Ok, I'm going to make these! I can get all these ingredients and it looks like a perfect summer dish. Thank you for posting!! =)

Marcus said...