Recipe: Fish Tacos.

So the plan was to make fish tacos. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten to pick up beer and cabbage. I decided to walk to the Mexican grocery store and get the cabbage, then stop at the liquor store on the way back.

On the way to the grocery store, which was about a mile away, all told, I started making plans to get all my April groceries from there, walking, as an experiment. Carrying a six pack on the same day one has done all kinds of exhausting things to one's muscles is not such a good idea, especially when the last block is up a hill, and by the time I had arrived back home I had abandoned my plan, at least the walking part.

The beer was New Belgium's seasonal pale ale, Mighty Arrow. It's about as bitter as coffee. I usually don't like pale ales, but I loved this one. Is there a beer New Belgium can make that I don't love? Oh, yeah. I wasn't too fond of Skinny Dip, and I usually can't cope with IPAs. Well, I shall have to find out.

This is, to date, my favorite frying batter. I am going to leave the oil on the stove until I have a chance to fry up some mushrooms with it. While I had the oil hot, I coated a few pieces of cheddar with flour and batter and fried them, too - total success. The opposite of fail, although they do like to puff up and turn into cheese balloons instead of staying in nice cubes. About a half-inch square seemed about right. Too small, you get balloons. Too big, the inside doesn't get gooey, just warm.

I also tried frying very thin slices of lime. I had lemon-jalapeno slices at Nosh when I ate there, and they were excellent. I think I cut the slices too thin, and the batter is different. I had better luck just frying the slices in flour than flour-and-batter. I was thinking the batter was just panko, but panko burn so quickly and the slices brown so slowly that I suspect panko is not the answer. Anyway, the slices were incredibly, additively bitter from the whites, but the fruit and peel were chewy and delicious. What to do, what to do.

The thing about fish tacos is that they're aren't Mexican. They're Southern Californian. So don't think of the cabbage-white sauce combination as crazy, think of it as spicy coleslaw to go with your fancy fish sticks.

I love catsup and mayo with my fish sticks, but I love capers even more, so I was won over by the spicy tartar sauce.

Fish Tacos (adapted from Allrecipes).

1/2 cabbage, shredded
1 quart oil for frying
1 pound mild white fish fillets, cut into finger-sized pieces diagonally across flesh (we used tilapia, cod is traditional)
soft corn tortillas (we used taco shells, which turned out to be inferior!)

White sauce:
1/2 c plain yogurt (used sour cream; it tasted too strongly of sour cream)
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 lime, juiced
about 1/4 of a jalapeno pepper, minced
1 t minced capers
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t dried dill weed
1 t chipotle powder (or cayenne)

1 c all-purpose flour
2 T cornstarch
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt (this was not enough salt)
1 egg
1c beer

Mix ingredients and set aside to let the flavors meld.

Chop 1/2 cabbage and fish. Make sure the fish are fully thawed, if frozen, before frying.

Heat 1 quart of oil to frying temperature, which is 375 degrees or the point at which you can drop a droplet of batter in and have it turn golden in about 30 seconds.

Mix the dry ingredients for the batter. Mix the egg and beer and add to the dry ingredients.
Don't do this ahead of time; you want to keep the baking powder in the batter right at the point where it's still reacting to the beer, which will make the fried batter more delicate.

Put about 1/2 c. flour in dish one and the batter in dish two. Cover 5-6 fish pieces with flour, shaking off excess, then dip in batter and drop in oil. Fry until golden-brown and drain on paper towels.

Pan-fry the corn tortillas in a couple of tablespoons of oil, a few seconds on each side. Put cabbage, a couple of pieces of fish, and white sauce in tortilla and eat!