We lived in California years ago, but my first introduction to fish tacos was at Rubio’s in Denver of all places. I was hooked right away, the textures and flavors are addictive with crisp slaw, tender fish, a squeeze of lime, all cradled in your hand for quick delivery. Where the fish taco originated still raises debate according to this story in Sunset. As far as I’m concerned, Ralph Rubio got it right when he opened his restaurant near Mission Bay 28 years ago.
This inspired recipe includes subtle twists on the tacos that won my heart—better oil for frying and adding a few more fresh items to fill the warm tortillas alongside the fish—there is even a grilling option if you prefer to avoid the stove when it is hot outside. Rubio’s soft corn tortillas are unique to the restaurant, but The Tortilla Factory Corn Tortillas are pretty close. The white sauce is mild and cools the spice of the salsa, but if you are looking for more heat, Habanero-Cilantro Taco Sauce is another option. Here’s to Baja!
3 med white fish fillets (Mahi Mahi, Halibut, Cod) — cut into 1″ x 4″ strips
1 whole lime — cut into wedges
1/2 head cabbage — thinly shredded
1 small carrot — peeled and grated
1/2 cup cilantro — coarsely chopped
1/2 whole avocado — peeled and sliced
1 cup salsa (recipe below)
8 small corn tortillas
salt & pepper
For the Sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain yogurt
For the Beer Batter:
3/4 cup beer
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Squeeze half of the lime over the fish, sprinkle with salt and pepper; allow fish to marinate while prepping the other ingredients. Mix cabbage, carrot, and one tablespoon of the chopped cilantro together. Once the vegetables and sauces are prepped, mix beer batter in a bowl wide enough to dip the fish.
Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet by about an 1/8″. Dry fish with paper towels and dip into beer batter, shaking off any excess so there is a thin coating. Place fish in hot oil and cook on each side about 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Fill warm tortillas with fish, cabbage slaw, salsa, and garnish with avocado, cilantro, and sauce. Finish with a squeeze of lime on each taco just before serving.
To grill the fish instead of frying, leave the fish whole until after it is grilled. Omit the beer batter and add the garlic powder to the fish while marinating. Grill over medium heat on a gas grill for 3-4 minutes on each side.
1/3 yellow onions — chopped fine
1/4 Serrano pepper — chopped fine
1/4 green pepper — chopped fine
1/2 yellow chili pepper, mild — chopped fine
1 clove garlic — chopped fine
5 Roma tomatoes — coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves — coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt — to taste
Put garlic, peppers, and onion in food processor and pulse to chop fine. Cut stems off of cilantro just below leaves. Add tomatoes and cilantro to processor and pulse to chop slowly so that tomatoes do not become too small. Remove from processor and squeeze fresh lime over mixture, stir well. Add salt and stir well. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.
NOTES: For hotter flavor use whole Serrano pepper.
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