Fish Tacos

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It’s been a difficult week and because of it, I’m posting only one recipe this weekend. Without going into the politics, PG&E cut power to over 700,000 households and we were one of them. Lucky us. So, yes, I could have cooked in the dark, pretended it was like camping, and roughed it. But frankly, I was not in the best mood so we went out to dinner instead. And again.

Two days later, the power was back on, but it took another two days to restore Internet and TV services. ARGH. In the meantime, I was busy throwing away half my fridge with all my food blog recipe ingredients. I have no idea how those off-the-grid people survive. Oh, wait, yes….they have a generator. We do not. Because we live in suburbs, not the country. Where the power should never go out for more than a few hours. Ok, calm down, Flora.

Enough of feeling sorry for myself. It’s time to treat myself to my favorite food: tacos.

Almost every Tuesday, we have tacos. I love tacos. No really. I’m not kidding when I say I love tacos. When I went to Houston in August, I ate tacos 4 days in a row. I still miss those tacos.

So as part of my recovery, I decided to make fish tacos. Yummy, slightly spicy, comforting tacos.

Here are the seasonings and breading. If you don’t like any crunch, use all flour instead of a panko blend. Later you’ll use an egg wash to get the breading to stick, but you can skip that too for a softer exterior. I wanted mine to have a slight crunch to mimic deep fried fish. This recipe is totally healthier than that.

I used cod, which is fairly reasonably priced compared to other fish, but you can use tilapia, which is a little cheaper, or upgrade to halibut. Any white fish will do.

To get the breading to stick, I like to use an egg wash, which is really just an egg whisked so the whites and yolks are mixed together. I also like to use tongs or a fork to dip the fish and then into the breading. It makes a lot less mess on your fingers. And if you have long nails, trust me when I say you do not want to use your hands.

The fish doesn’t need to be perfectly coated because they come out tasty no matter what, and you might want to break the fish apart in your taco anyway. Just make sure to shake off any excess breading. It’ll help prevent the breading from falling off your fish when you fry it.

If you haven’t already, buy yourself a cast-iron pan. You’ll use it over and over again for lots of recipes, like Cast Iron Pizza. Although non-stick pans and stainless steel serve their purpose, cast iron pans are durable, non-stick, and last forever. Just don’t drop it on your foot. They are incredibly heavy. Ouch.

Also invest in a fish spatula. It’s like your typical spatula but longer and curved, which makes it so much easier to flip stuff like fish, but it works on any meat, including chicken and beef. There’s nothing more frustrating than doing everything right, but not having the right equipment. It’s like using a bicycle when you really need a car. Or something like that.

When you heat up the olive oil, I like to put a timer on it. What seems like 3 minutes ends up being only 1 minute, and you really need to heat up the oil to the correct temperature so you don’t end up with soggy fish. I usually heat the oil on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Some say to look for a slight shimmering of the oil, but my eyes just don’t see that very well (no, I’m not old…just blind, apparently). Instead, I throw a bit of breading into the pan and if it sizzles, it’s ready.

Turn the temperature down slightly. I find that the pan continues to heat up, and I don’t want that or I’ll end up with burnt fish. Place one piece of fish in the pan. If it sizzles, the temperature is perfect. If it doesn’t wait another 30 seconds or so before adding the next piece.

When you add all your fish, make sure they aren’t touching. Overcrowding causes more moisture than you want so your fish ends up sauteing instead of frying. Resist the temptation to squeeze all your fish pieces into one pan. Just fry it in two batches instead.

Cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side. If it’s a steak or thicker cut, go for 4 or 5 minutes. If it’s a filet or thinner cut, go for 3 minutes. Whatever you do, do not poke and prod the fish. Let it cook. Flipping it over and over messes everything up. Trust me on this.

If you’ve followed these guidelines, your fish should not stick to the pan when you flip it. Carefully nudge your fish a little to check. If it’s stuck or doesn’t give freely, it’s not ready yet. Give it another 30 seconds to a minute. Those bread crumbs haven’t cooked enough to release from the pan. If you flip it too soon, you’ll end up with your breading stuck to the pan, not to your fish. When you flip it, the fish should look golden brown.

Place fish on tortillas and add your favorite toppings. Yum…happiness.

Fish Tacos

Ingredients

  • corn or flour tortillas your favorite size
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
  • 1 pound skinless white fish such as cod, halibut, tilapia, etc.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • your favorite toppings: crema, sour cream, lime juice, red onions, shredded cabbage, cilantro, avocado, pico de gallo, salsa, hot sauce, etc.

Instructions

  • Whisk an egg in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Stir together flour, panko, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Set aside.
  • Season the fish with salt and pepper. Using tongs, a fork, or your fingers, dip fish into the egg wash and then coat with the flour mixture.
  • Heat the oil in a cast iron (or non-stick) pan over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the fish to the pan without crowding the fish. Cook the fish for about 3 to 5 minutes until it's cooked halfway through the sides. The bottom should be golden brown and not stick to the pan. Wait another 30 seconds and check again before flipping.
  • Using a fish spatula, flip the fish over. Add more oil if the pan looks dry. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until it flakes.
  • Warm up the tortillas in a pan or microwave. Add fish to tortillas, breaking pieces apart if needed. Add toppings and serve.
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