I am so excited to bring you this recipe! I’ve been talkin’ it up all week!! If you’ve been following along, you’ll probably be shocked when you see how incredibly simple it actually is… simple, but oh so good.
I rarely make fried food, but this, my friends, is definitely worth making. Crispy, light, crunchy beer-battered fish laid over a bed of cabbage slaw and topped with a refreshing mix of mango and avocado, all wrapped up in a light little tortilla. Need I say more?
And better yet, this is good for ALL. I’ve heard so many gluten-free-ers say they miss fish sticks, fish and chips, and fish tacos… but no more my people, miss them you will no longer! And non-gf-ers, you’ll be stoked on this recipe too… it’s the best of both worlds. It’s got you all covered. (By good for you, I mean edible for you all… it may have a gluten-free option, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s no superfood. 😉 But it is delicious, and when made with fresh ingredients and a healthy frying oil, it ain’t bad either!)
These Baja-style tacos are made two ways- one with regular pale ale and flour, and one made gluten-free… but the wonderful news here is that this recipe also works wonderfully for fish and chips, fish sticks, and whatever else your fried-food missin heart may desire!
There’s a mini novel to follow, but once you read it, you’ll see just why I’m so excited about this simple fish taco feast…
As you may have read if you’ve been following my Insta or FB account, I’ve recently partnered up with Whole Foods to create recipes for their Friday One Day Sales. I’m super stoked. All regions have different sale items, but every store in Northern California has the same deal every Friday… so I’m creating recipes for you all to make at home using the special sale items each week. Last week it was New York steak (see my recipe HERE). This Friday, it’s beer. Yep, beer! 20% off it all… no matter which kind you may like.
So I simply haaaad to make fish tacos. Delicious, lightly fried, beer-battered fish tacos. ‘Cause I mean, seriously, who doesn’t LOVE crispy Baja-style fish tacos??! Even I, the girl who hated fish sticks with a passion as child, can grub with the best of them when it comes to battered fish tacos. I’ve made them a few times before… throw some beer in with some flour, fry up some fish, and throw them in a tortilla with your favorite fresh toppings. It’s not tough. “But what about my GF readers?” I thought. “Can’t leave them out!” So I became dead set on determining whether this could be done with gluten-free ingredients too.
Truth be told, I didn’t think it could. If it could, it’d be all over the web-planet, right?! And yes, I’m a skeptic by nature, but for reals… a gluten-free beer and gluten-free flour?! I figured I’d get a wimpy little frail flab of fish at best. No fluff, no crunch. Just flabbo-fish city. And then I’d have to post a very very glutenous recipe that a good portion of my readers wouldn’t even be able to try. Sad face squared. :((
So I thought, researched, thought some more, and then went to batter town. I mixed my Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and flour in one bowl (that or Dos Equis Amber work great as a beer-batter… some people prefer light Pacificos or Coronas instead- your call) and my favorite gluten-free beer out there- Omission- in the other. Have you had this stuff??! So good, you can’t even tell it’s gluten-free. Even my beer-loving mister likes the stuff… and that’s saying a lot.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to try for the gf flour mix though…. I don’t usually buy blends. I make things from scratch, so I like to have individual ingredients in my pantry so I can craft as I go. I thought about making my own blend. I didn’t want to make this complicated though… I wanted the gf version to be just as simple as the regular one. So I hunted through Whole Foods and read the ingredients list of all the gf flour blends out there (whoa, there’s a lot these days). For baking, I usually opt for Bob’s Red Mill, but the flour blend had garbanzo and lentils, not what I wanted. Then I read a few more, which had corn starch as the main. Also not what I had in mind. Then I found Glutino. It was the most simple mix I could find- I’m a fan of simple and straight-forward. Some potato flour, some rice flour, and a few other pretty standard things. (See the ingredients in the directions below.) So that’s what I did. Skeptical still, as I headed home to test out this gf Baja taco experiment.
YOU GUYS, this worked. Not like, “Oh good enough for now” worked, but like, WORKED! I could not believe it. I made both batches- the regular and gluten-free. Both looked the same. Both tasted the same. Both crunched the same. I was awe-struck. My mister came home and immediately went for a bite of fish. Without second thought, the devoured the whole stick, smiling hugely. He had no idea it was a gf one he’d grubbed… no idea. He was just happy… smiles from ear to ear. (He’s not a gf man himself… but when I told him, he didn’t give two shits. He was that stoked on them. He just picked up another and scarfed.)
I was so happy! So so so happy!!! I don’t know why this hasn’t been done more, but gf Baja fish tacos can taste just like the real thing. JUST like them. A lovely discovery for any home who misses crispy fish…. gluten-free or not.
For the sides, I went with a simple mango-avocado salsa and a light red cabbage slaw. I don’t normally make my own tortillas, but I decided to this day. Cause they’re so easy and I had the time. (See my recipe HERE.) If you don’t want corn, get your hands on whatever tasty Paleo ones you like, or enjoy some lettuce-style tacos instead. Anything will work with these…
ORRRR, as we did, you could whip up some tartar sauce and make these as fish sticks instead. We had some leftover fish and batter (’cause I made a lot while experimenting and there are only two of us here). Unsure of whether they would remain as great the next day, I fried up the leftover dudes in some avo oil, and to my happy surprise, they were once again, more delicious than I’d imagined. So we had fish sticks and tartar sauce for lunch the next day. Can’t wait to make more. Can. Not. Wait. ❤
for the fish…
2 fish filets- Tilapia, Cod, or Halibut (approx 1 lb total)
1/2 tsp chili powder
approx 1 cup healthy frying oil (I use THIS avocado oil)
for the batter…
1 cup beer (like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Dos Equis Amber OR for gluten-free, Omission)
1 cup all-purpose flour (for gluten-free, use a gf flour such as Glutino)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
for the salsa…
1 mango, chopped
1 avocado, chopped (choose one’s that ripe but firm)
1/2 Serrano pepper, seeds removed, minced (approx 1/2 tsp)
2 tbsp finely diced red onion
1/2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
(I usually add cilantro to salsas, but since it’s in the slaw, I skip it for this- your call)
for the cabbage slaw…
2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp lime juice, plus more as desired
1-2 tbsp mayonnaise, depending on preference (see my homemade mayo recipe HERE)
1/4 tsp chili powder
optional- 1/8 tsp ground chipotle pepper, for extra spice
garnish- lime wedges and fresh cilantro
tortillas (see my easy homemade corn tortillas HERE)
To make the salsa…
Peel and chop the mango
(I recently tried a new method I saw using a bowl- if you make a thin cut around the mango, then slide the skin over the rim of a bowl, it will take it off without wasting any mango!)
Half the Serrano and remove the seeds, then finely dice
Finely chop the red onion and cube the avocado
Add the chopped mango, avocado, chile pepper, onion, lime, and salt to a bowl
Gently fold to avoid smashing the avo
Taste and adjust seasonings as desired
Set aside for now
To make the slaw…
Slice the cabbage into thin shreds
In a small bowl, mix the mayo, lime, chili powder, and chipotle (if using)
(For mayo, start with 1 tbsp, then add another if desired…
people seem to have varying preferences for how saucy they like their slaws)
Stir the sauce into the cabbage along with the chopped cilantro
Taste and adjust seasonings as desired
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use
Make sure all bones are removed from the fish
Slice the fillets into strips, approx 1 inch wide by 3 inches long
Lightly sprinkle with chili powder and toss to coat
To make the batter…
I made both a regular and a gluten-free version, so you can make whichever you prefer
For gluten-free, select any all-purpose flour you like- I typically work from scratch, so don’t use the blends often, but I chose Glutino since the ingredients looked the simplest
Stir the flour, salt, and pepper together in a mixing bowl
(Left is regular flour, right is gluten-free)
Add the beer
(Left is Sierra Nevada, right is Omission)
Stir until evenly mixed and smooth (it will thicken quickly)
Pour oil in a large pan over medium-high heat (I like cast iron)
Depending on the size of your pan, you may need more or less oil…
it should cover at least 1/2 inch of the pan to ensure even frying
Using tongs, dip the fish into the batter, coating all sides
Shake off any excess batter
Place the fish in the oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan (I do this in batches)
Cook fish for approx 2-3 minutes, until golden brown, and then flip
(You may need to adjust heat- each stove is different- on my funky little electric, a 7.5 is good)
Once fish is browned and looking delicious, you’re done!
Place them on a paper towel to dry
Heat tortillas if you’d like first
(I often wrap a pile of tortillas in a damp dish towel and microwave them for approx 30-40 secs)
Add some slaw, top with crispy fish, then some mango-avo salsa,
garnish with fresh cilantro and lime, and enjoy!!
(Refrigerate remaining batter and fish together and fry the next day for delicious leftovers!)