These classic Baja fish tacos are fantastic! Crunchy batter dipped chunks of fish are shallow fried to crisp perfection. The fish pieces are wrapped in fresh cooked flour tortillas with a quick cabbage slaw and then drizzled (generously) with a chipotle cream sauce. All the flavors combine to make a fabulous final dish.
This dish comes from Southern California, thus the Baja in the name. Where mild white fish were caught and quickly fried then served at taco stands up and down the coast.
What kind of fish to use for Classic Baja fish Tacos?
You can use any kind of white fish to make fish tacos. Just choose a mild flavored fish that will play nicely with all the other flavors going on in this recipe. For salt water fish, look for cod, orange roughy, halibut, or mahi mahi. Or you can use fresh water fish like tilapia that is a blank canvas for all the bold flavors in the batter. What you really want to look for is a fillet that is firm, fresh, and fairly thick.
Tips For Making the Battered Fish
- You can prep all the other components of this recipe ahead of time. But make the batter and cook the fish, just before serving so the fish is the crispiest.
- When you batter any ingredients, the batter acts as a barrier to protect the delicate fish from overcooking and drying out. The batter itself loses all of its liquid in the hot oil which makes it super crisp. By cooking at the proper temperature and draining the excess oil from the cooked pieces of fish, you won’t end up with a greasy end product.
- I like to pat the fish dry and do a quick dredge in flour. Then pat off any excess flour. This step will help the batter adhere to the fish.
- A mixture of all-purpose flour and panko bread crumbs help produce a super crispy fish chunk.
- Mix up the dry ingredients for the batter and have it waiting.
- Use a carbonated liquid, either a light beer or club soda to keep the batter light. Refrigerate the liquid so it is very cold before adding it to the batter.
- Set up your cooking station with oil in a heavy pan (I use a cast-iron frying pan) and a tray lined with paper towels.
- Add the liquid to the batter at the last minute, just before you are ready to fry the fish. I add the liquid to the batter while the oil is preheating to 350° F.
- Gently mix the batter together to combine. Add the fish pieces to the batter using a slotted spoon. Carefully lower the battered fish into the hot oil.
- When the fish is golden brown, remove the fish chunks to the prepared tray with a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.
- Cook the fish in batches, don’t overcrowd the oil with fish. Let the oil come back to 350°F before cooking the second batch.
Try this recipe of fresh Pico de Gallo as the perfect addition for classic Baja fish tacos!Print
Classic Baja Fish Tacos are crispy crunchy goodness with a touch of spice that is countered by a fantastic chipotle cream sauce.
- 1–1/2 pounds mild white fish fillet, about 2/3-inch thick (such as cod, grouper, mahi mahi or tilapia)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1–1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon chile powder (use a full teaspoon if you want it spicy)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 12 ounces carbonated liquid (club soda or light beer)
- 2–3 cups vegetable oil for frying
Chipotle Cream Sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Crema (Mexican cream) or can substitute sour cream
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1–1/2 teaspoon Adobo sauce (the sauce from canned chipotle in adobo)
Cooling Cabbage Slaw
- 2 cups finely shredded cabbage, (I cut my own on a mandolin or you can buy the bagged angel hair shredded cabbage.)
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/3 of a bunch)
- 1/2 cup finely sliced green onions, (about 2 green onions)
- 1 teaspoon lime zest (zest from 1 lime)
- 2 teaspoons lime juice (juice from 1 lime)
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 package of ready to cook flour tortillas
- Fresh Pico de gallo and guacamole
- In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the Chipotle Cream sauce and set aside. This step can be done several hours before and stored in the refrigerator.
- In a medium bowl, combine the lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and stir together, add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Prep the cabbage, cilantro and green onions and toss with the dressing. You can prepare the dressing ingredients and prep the cabbage, cilantro and green onions several hours before serving, Wait to combine the dressing with the slaw ingredients to just before serving so the cabbage stays crisp.
- In a dry frying pan, cook the flour tortillas following the directions on the package. Set aside.
- Cut the fish into 2” pieces. Pat dry.
- In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients of the batter and refrigerate the liquid.
- Set up the cooking station. Add the oil to a heavy frying pan and set up a baking try lined with paper towels.
- Preheat the oil to 350°F. The oil depth should be about 1”. Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
- Make the batter by combining the cold liquid with the dry ingredients and stir to mix.
- Dredge the fish pieces in flour pat any excess flour off.
- Dip about 1/3 of the fish pieces in the batter and using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer them to the hot oil.
- Fry until the fish turns golden brown.
- Remove the battered fish to the prepared tray to blot up any excess oil.
- Repeat with the remaining fish pieces.
- To serve classic Baja fish tacos, place a spoonful of cooling cabbage slaw on a warm tortilla and top with several crispy fish chunks. Drizzle of the chipotle cream sauce.
- Garnish with fresh pico de gallo and guacamole and enjoy.
- Serving Size: 2 tacos