Is there anything more perfect for summer than a fish taco? We don't think so, unless it's eating ice cream by the quart or making cheeseburger sliders with mini pretzel rolls. But for this post, I wanted to share a creation/bastardization of a recipe I had tried before and tweaked slightly to make my own. As much as I love a fried piece of fish, I'm a little wary of deep-frying things in my tiny kitchen. So I took my favorite breading for pan-frying fish and gave it a Baja twist.
Besides the crispy fish fillet, the other star of this dish is the lime-cilantro cream. Imagine, if you will, a cool, creamy tzatziki sauce with a Mexican accent and you will have an idea of how delicious this sauce is. You could easily use any leftovers as a dip for vegetables and it's so easy, you will want some of this on hand and within easy reach. Just three ingredients: sour cream, lime juice and cilantro (and I added some lime zest as well because you can't have too much lime!), season to taste and you're ready for taco night.
I love the colors of red and green cabbage. You could just as well have one or the other, especially if you're only serving a few for dinner. But extra cabbage in the refrigerator means coleslaw at your fingertips and I am nothing if not a coleslaw fiend. That, also, is a summer staple and I've never had a home-made coleslaw I didn't love.
Here is where I got creative with the original recipe. The first time I made these, the instructions directed me to coat the fish with minced chipotle chiles and cook until blackened. The problem I ran into was that the moisture of the chiles in their delicious adobo sauce was that it was far too moist to actually sear and blacken the fish. It was tasty, but there wasn't any texture. So I decided to take the cornmeal coating of my favorite catfish recipe and apply it here. I brushed the fish with the adobo to make the cornmeal adhere and fried until well and truly crisp and golden. I won't be making fish tacos any other way.
Chipotle Fish Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Cream
adapted from Bon Appetit
1 c. sour cream
1 c. finely chopped cilantro, divided
2 T. lime juice
zest of 1/2 lime
1 T. cumin
1 t. salt
1 can chipotles in adobo
(sauce only, reserve chiles for another use)
1 c. yellow cornmeal
1 1b. basa/ tilapia fillets
1 T. vegetable oil
16 6" corn tortillas
1 stick butter, melted
2 c. shredded green cabbage (1/4 of a head)
2 c. shredded red cabbage ( 1/4 of a head)
2 c. chopped plum or cherry tomatoes
Whisk sour cream, 1/2 c. cilantro, lime juice and zest in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk cumin, salt and cornmeal in a shallow dish ( such as a pie plate). Lay fish on a large plate and season lightly with salt and pepper. Working with one fillet at a time, brush/ smear adobo sauce over both sides of fish, then coat with cornmeal mixture, pressing to adhere. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add fish and cook until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Move to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle with a little more salt, if desired. Heat another skillet over high heat. Lightly brush one side of each tortilla with melted butter. Working in batches, place tortillas, buttered side down, in skillet. Cook until soft, about 20 seconds per side. Arrange tortillas, buttered side up, on a platter. Break/ slice fish into small portions and divide amongst tortillas. Top with cabbage and sprinkle with tomatoes and rest of cilantro. Drizzle with cilantro-lime cream and serve.