Baja Fish Tacos with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette
Crispy fried tilapia over a bed of red onion and cabbage slaw, with cheesy tortillas and a zesty cumin and lime vinaigrette are the closest you'll get to Baja north of the border.
Baja Fish Tacos
Have you ever had fried fish that looks crispy, but the second you take a bite, you realize you’ve gotten a bit of a soggy mess on your hands. Too much oil, not crispy enough, undercooked or overcooked fish can make what is a straightforward dish go awry. Fortunately, I have a secret to making the crispiest, perfectly cooked fried fish you’ve had outside a restaurant. The technique keeps the fish super crispy for our Baja Fish Tacos, even when dressed with our cumin lime vinaigrette.
When Katherine and I were in Baja, most of the fried fish we ate (and it was a lot) was usually grouper or Mahi Mahi. Some dishes occasionally used tilapia, but wild breeds are typically served in restaurants, while tilapia is commercially grown for export. You can certainly use most white fishes in your Baja Fish Tacos, but I’d recommend getting a beautiful grouper if your budget allows. Otherwise, tilapia is a great alternative and comparable to salmon for Omega-3 levels.
Fish Taco Sauce
A taco is more than just a tortilla with some filling: it’s a layered tribute to beautiful produce, properly prepared proteins, toppings and dressing dedicated to elevating the star of the taco, all in a traditionally-made tortilla.
To showcase the fried fish and red onion and cabbage slaw, I made luscious cumin and lime vinaigrette that’s both earthy and tangy. You can drizzle a bit over filled Baja Fish Tacos right before serving or use it as a dipping sauce for pretty anything edible. Like seriously, our kids went crazy for it with carrot sticks and raw broccoli. You can use it a dressing for most any salad and even a marinade for grilled chicken or steak.
If you never attempt to fry fish at home, make the vinaigrette by the quart. Let us know how it turns out below.
Suggestions and Alternatives
- Instead of tilapia, you can use grouper, mahi mahi, wahoo or amberjack.
- For a sweeter filling, you can replace the cabbage slaw with our Sweet Corn Salsa
- For a spicy dressing, drizzle a bit of our Authentic Mexican Salsa over the fish.
- Pair the tacos with a refreshing glass of Agua de Sandia, watermelon water.
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Baja Fish Tacos
Crispy tilapia tacos with a freshly-made fish taco sauce of a tangy cumin lime vinaigrette.
Baja Fish Tacos
- 2 lbs. tilapia quality
- 1/2 cup green cabbage grated
- 1/2 cup red cabbage grated
- 1/4 cup carrots grated
- 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
- 2 tbs. red onions minced
- 1/3 cup AP flour quality
- 1/3 cup potato starch flour quality
- 2 tbs. baking powder quality
- 1/4 cup club soda quality
- 1/4 cup ice
- 16 corn tortillas quality
- 2 cups queso fresco grated
- 5 cups grapeseed oil quality
- 1 tbs. cumin ground
- 1 tbs. agave quality
- 1/2 cup limes juiced
- 1/2 tbs. limes zested
- 2 teaspoon. kosher salt quality
- 1 tbs. shallots minced
- 1/2 tbs. dijon quality
- 4 tbs. cilantro chopped
- 1 jalapeno minced
Instructions for Cumin Lime Vinaigrette
In a blender add ground cumin, Agave, minced shallots, Dijon mustard and lime juice.
Blend for 30 seconds on medium speed.
Slowly add grapeseed oil. Once you've added the oil, shut off the blender and add contents to medium size bowl.
Using a rubber spatula fold in Kosher salt and lime zest. and chopped cilantro.
After all ingredients have been incorporated, transfer to air tight container and refrigerate.
Instruction for Cabbage Slaw
in a large bowl shred green cabbage, red cabbage, grated carrot.
Add minced red onions and chopped cilantro.
Dress the slaw with cumin lime vinaigrette and Kosher salt.
Gently fold and refrigerate.
Instructions for Fried Fish Batter
In a medium bowl add flour, baking powder, and potato starch flour.
Add Kosher salt, club soda and ice.
Lightly fold in all ingredients until incorporated.
Instructions for Fried Tilapia
Using a sharp knife, slice your fish length wise and on a bias about two inches long and one inch thick.
in a medium size pot, bring four cups grapeseed oil to 360° F.
Season your fish with kosher salt and dip each piece ( three at a time ) into the batter and gently submerge into the oil. Hold fish half way submerged for about 30 seconds before dropping it in entirely.
Using a fork, turn fish over after three minutes and cook for another three minutes
Place your fried fish on a paper towel.
Continue with remaining fish.
Constructing your Baja Fish Tacos
Take 16 corn tortillas and char them briefly on both sides over a high flame using tongs.
After each tortilla has been charred, place them underneath a damp cloth or paper towel.
In a separate bowl grate two cups queso fresco, then heat the cheese until melted in either a pan or on foil in a toaster or oven.
Place the cheese in between corn tortillas. Keep tortillas warm.
Grab your slaw from the fridge and dress with cumin lime vinaigrette.
Spoon slaw for each taco (that's three tacos per person).
Place the fish on top of slaw and squeeze fresh lime over each taco.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and or red radishes sliced thin on a mandolin.
Serve immediately with fresh lime wedges.