I think the first-ever taco I ate after moving to NYC was a crispy fish taco. It was so simple - beautifully fried fresh fish, cabbage, a squeeze of lime, and some aioli. Not much to it but boy is it a lasting memory. As you probably saw from my recent chorizo & prawn taco post that we are on a bit of a taco buzz here and it's always a fight as to what type we will eat. I think these crispy fish tacos may have edged out in front. Crunchy, fresh, and a great punch from the delicious jalapeno apple salsa. TRUST ME, you are going to want to read on to see how to get these in your life!
The all-important "crispy" part of crispy fish tacos - I like to keep mine simple and use flour, salt & sparkling water. The "boss" has a SodaStream so we always have plenty of bubbly water on hand. Pro-tip though when making batter make sure it's ice-cold (or at least as cold as you can get it). The colder the batter the more it'll puff up and crisp up in the fryer.
Once the fish hits the batter you can't season the flesh of the fish anymore so it's super important to season the fish before cooking, season your batter, AND as soon as the fish comes out of the fryer hit it again with a pinch of salt. Before the batter cools and completely hardens up it'll grab hold of that salt and leave you with a beautiful kick of salt as you bite into that crunchy batter.
WHAT OIL SHOULD I USE
Given that we are deep frying it's best to stick to an oil that has a higher smoke point. I tend to use canola oil. It's more cost-effective than other oils, has a high smoke point, and is low enough in saturated fats. The truth is there isn't anything particularly healthy in deep frying fish tacos so thinking you could use olive, avocado or coconut really won't help too much. Light olive oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil so it would work but it's defo on the more costly side. However, if we were shallow frying the fish or other food items, by all means, use a "healthier" oil.
WHAT CAN I FRY THE CRISPY FISH TACOS IN?
NOT a frying pan! The trick is you want something that is relatively deep. You are looking to get that oil up to about 180c and once you add the cold batter to the hot oil it's gonna bubble and spit. Therefore you want to minimise the chance of having the oil overflow, splash everywhere, and therefore have more to clean up. OR worse yet start a fire and then not to be able to eat these delicious snapper tacos.
So, I recently was gifted some new pans from Scanpan. I LOVE their HaptIQ range and one of them was the 28cm saute pan. This baby ROCKS. So much so I am heading on holidays tomorrow up the coast of QLD and have packed it #loser - I know. Its base is flat as a frying pan, edges are slightly curved to use like a saute pan/wok and it's sides are high enough to use it as a saucepan or in this case a crispy fish taco pan. Dishwasher proof, metal object proof, and wife (or husband in other cases) proof it's a pan I'm going to enjoy using on the regular!
WHAT CAN I DO WITH THE LEFTOVER OIL?
Keep it. Let it cool completely - overnight is best. Once cooled get yourself a container and strain it through a sieve into the container. Label it and store it to use next time. It might sound gross but you will be able to use the same oil 3 or 4 times!
APPLE JALAPENO SALSA
This is where the magic happens. Truthfully, we have all deep-fried something at some point. Be it chips, onion rings, or fish. There is defo a skill involved to it but once you have mastered that part you are ultimately left with a battered piece of fish. It's what you do next that makes or breaks a taco or a fish & chip shop. How good is the tartare, do they use malt vinegar, is ketchup involved? In this case, none of those are so it's all about the zingy fresh and spicy salsa that we are gonna pour on top.
This bad boy couldn't be easier and trust me when I say it'll brighten up this not so healthy taco and make it feel a whole lot fresher. Simply cut the apple, onion, and jalapeno to similar sized pieces (I went with a fine dice), toss in some delicious Squeaky Gate Olive Oil, a pinch of salt, and lime juice. TRUST me, you will be finding other things to use this on PRETTY quickly!!
WHAT FISH CAN I USE FOR CRISPY FISH TACOS
TONS. There really isn't an obvious or straight forward answer to this one. There are so many options out there. Whitefish would be the quickest way to narrow it down. For these crispy fish tacos, I used snapper. Other fish that works great is cod, haddock, pollock, grouper, mahi-mahi, or halibut. The best advice I can give is going to your local store, fishmonger or market and look for the freshest fish possible. Most good fishmongers will steer you in the right direction so don't be afraid to ask for help.
I like to cut the fish into 30-40g pieces and use 2 pieces per taco. The reason behind this - it cooks quicker and I feel like I'm also getting more 😉
CAN I GRILL THE FISH
Sure can - might need to find something else to make it "crispy" fish tacos but there isn't anything wrong with grilling fish. In fact, there is probably more right than wrong for your health! Grilling them opens the door to using pretty much any fish you want. Season it well, maybe even marinate it prior to cooking with some spices and/or citrus and grill that bad boy up. For this, I would probably just leave the fish whole and cut it into pieces when serving. Might not look as pretty but WAY easier to grill one piece than a dozen pieces 😉
Corona - right! Technically yes, but for the purpose of wine-pairing let us stick to a wine 😉
This week I am sipping on a Semillon from First Creek in the Hunter Valley. Semillon is a thing of beauty really. Drunk young it's fresh with juicy acidity, apple, pear, and loads of bright citrus notes. Kept in the cellar and it will reward you in 5, 10, and 20 years. As it develops it gets (I think) a little grassy, the acidity is less prominent and notes of honey start to form. Pick this up from winedirect.com.au at a bargain of $22 a bottle and the only thing you will complain about is having not bought 6-12 bottles!
It is a complete WINNER with seafood and believe me when I say there is nothing more refreshing than a glass of Semillon, an epic crispy fish taco or 3 and another bottle of Semillon waiting in the fridge 😉
FURTHER TACO INSPIRATION
If you are feeling taco-inspired then best check out some other taco recipes I have on my site!
Korean Steak Tacos by Yours Truly
Blackened Salmon Tacos by Yours Truly
Black Pudding Tacos by Yours Truly
Chorizo & Prawn Tacos by Yours Truly
Happy Cooking and Happy Eating Friends!!
Jalapeno Apple Salsa
- 1/2 granny smith apple
- 2 jalapenos
- 1/4 red onion
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lime juiced
- salt & pepper
- canola oil see tips
- 250-300 g snapper
- 60 g flour
- 120 ml sparkling water
- 6 tortillas
- 1 handful coriander
- 100 g red cabbage sliced thinly
Jalapeno Apple Salsa
- Dice onion, jalapeno & apple into similar sized pieces - I went for a fine dice
- Mix with lime juice, olive oil and season accordingly
- Whisk together cold sparking water, flour and seasoning. Leave in fridge until ready to use
- Heat oil to 180c *see tips*
- Cut fish into 30-40g pieces, pat dry and season
- Dip fish into batter and gently place into oil away from you *see tips*
- Cook fish until golden brown (approx 3-4 minutes) remove from oil, season with salt and place on a wire rack while you cook the rest.
- Heat tortillas in frying pan or grill pan, place cabbage on bottom followed by 2 pieces of fish, a spoon of salsa, squeeze of aioli and sprinkle of coriander.
- Devour and repeat 😉
- chef knives
- chopping board
- measuring utensils
- deep saucepan
- wire rack
- frying pan/grill pan
- when testing if the oil is hot enough a thermometer works best - thanks captain obvious! BUT, if you don't have one then dip the end of a wooden spoon into the oil, it should bubble around the spoon. If it bubbles like CRAZY then the oil is too hot
- you want the batter to be cold when making it so use cold water
- always place food away from you when deep frying or shallow frying - this way if it spits up it will be away from your hands and face
- the right amount of canola oil depends upon the pot/pan you are using. For my deep 28cm pan I used about 700ml. A narrower pan will use less and a wider pan more so it depends upon how many pieces of fish you want to fry at a time