We’re taking inspiration from Eleanor Maidment’s Californian cookbook this weekend with her delicious Baja Fish Tacos from California: Eating + Living.
Recipe and Image from California: Living + Eating by Eleanor Maidment
Baja California is a state of Mexico, sitting on the peninsula that stretches down from San Diego through the Pacific Ocean. It is said to be the birthplace of the fish taco, where traditionally the fish is battered and served with a. creamy sauce (crema) and pico de gallo (a red, white and green salsa said to evoke the Mexican flag).
INGREDIENTS | Serves 4, Prep 30 mins, Cook 10 mins
400g fresh firm white fish
100g (generous ¾ cup) plain all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
200ml beer or sparkling water
About 250ml (1 cup) sunflower oil, for frying
8 corn tortillas, toasted (for method see page 128 in California: Living + Eating)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lime and Cumin Crema
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (for homemade version see page 183 in California: Living + Eating) 3 tablespoons natural yoghurt teaspoon
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Grated zest of ½ lime and a squeeze of juice
Avocado Pico de Gallo
2 tomatoes, halved widthways and seeds discarded
1 avocado, peeled, halved, and diced
1 green chilli, seeded and diced sweet white onion, diced
Juice of ½ lime
Handful of coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
Start by making the accompaniments. Mix together the ingredients for the lime and cumin crema in a bowl, season with salt and chill until ready to serve. For the pico de gallo, finely dice the tomato halves and toss with the avocado, chilli, onion and lime juice in a bowl; season with salt and chill until ready to serve, stirring through the coriander at the last minute.
Cut the fish into 8 pieces, roughly 2 x 6cm (don’t worry about them being too even). For the batter, combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Lightly whisk in the beer (or sparkling water) until just combined — it doesn’t matter if it’s not completely smooth.
Heat the oil in a large, non-stick sauté pan to about 200°c. Bear in mind that the temperature will drop as you add the fish so you may need to adjust the heat a little when you start frying. Line a large plate with a double layer of paper towel, and make sure you have a slotted spoon or some tongs to hand.
Dredge the fish, 2-3 pieces at a time, in the batter, then drop into the hot oil (you need to cook them in batches or you’ll overcrowd the pan). Cook for about 2 minutes on one side until golden, then carefully turn and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes (you may need to give them a gentle nudge with a spatula if they’ve stuck to the base Of the pan).
Lift out and drain the fish on the paper towel-lined plate, sprinkle with a little salt, then serve on toasted corn tortillas With the pico de gallo and lime and cumin crema.
NOTES SHALLOW FRYING
You could use a deep-fat fryer here, but I prefer shallow frying. Use a large, wide, non-stick pan and make sure the oil is really hot before you start. Measure the temperature (200°c using a sugar thermometer, or drop a small piece of bread into the pan (it should sizzle immediately and turn golden in 20 seconds). Be careful, keep the your workspace clear, and always take the pan off the heat if it gets too hot.