These Baja fish tacos with citrus slaw and a spicy garlic-lime sauce are what my family loves to tuck into when a classic, west coast-style beach meal is what we crave!
Baja Fish Tacos, a Meal We Could Eat for Days
We love to make special dinners on Saturday evenings whenever we possibly can. It gives us a chance to not only eat a delicious meal together as a family, but to connect, laugh a little, and share stories from our week while we enjoy that meal.
And these dinners are especially poignant to my husband and I since our son no longer lives at home with us. Although he’s a Marine, he happens to be stationed locally, and comes home on the weekends whenever he can.
That being said, we truly love this precious time together to regroup and visit with each other; and, to “refuel” our son after an often-challenging week of physical and mental stress, feeding the bottomless pit of an appetite he has these days.
When I asked our son a few weeks back what he’d like for our next family dinner, he asked for Baja fish tacos—the kind that are beer-battered and fried to crispy, golden perfection, with some crunchy slaw and a garlicky, spicy sauce to douse everything in.
And I was more than excited to oblige!
That following weekend was a three day weekend for our son, and we made those Baja fish tacos—made a huge batch of them, because I wanted all of us to have plenty and perhaps even have some as leftovers. And that’s exactly how it played out.
We all ended up enjoying them so much that we ate them for the next two days straight after that dinner, enjoying every bite until not a scrap was left, not tiring of them one bit.
Talk about a meal we could eat for days!
How To Make Fish Tacos, Baja-Style
Because Baja fish tacos are dipped in a batter and lightly fried until crispy, the type of fish that is used is important. A firm, flaky white fish is best for these tacos, and cod fits that bill perfectly.
Halibut is wonderful, too, but is quite a bit more expensive; and since cod is so similar and can take on a beer-batter as well as halibut, it’s the best choice, in my opinion.
You’ll also need a fresh, crisp, and tangy slaw to go along with your Baja fish tacos.
A simple combination of thinly sliced green and red cabbage tossed with a bit of olive or avocado oil, some fresh citrus juice, and a couple of other simple ingredients pairs deliciously.
And finally, the crowning topper that adds some extra savory-ness and a pop of flavor, the gloriously delicious sauce…
In my opinion, the sauce is the next most important thing after that crispy fish! When loaded liberally with garlic and a hint of lime, a spicy, creamy baja fish taco sauce totally completes this meal.
- Begin by cutting your white fish into short strips or bite-size chunks, and marinating it in a simple seasoning to impart even more flavor before frying.
- Next, prepare your sauce by adding all of your ingredients to a food processor and processing until smooth and creamy. And if you have a squeeze bottle, add the sauce to that to make it easy to drizzle over top of the fish tacos.
- Then, prepare your slaw by adding all of the ingredients to a bowl, tossing to combine, and placing into the fridge to keep cool and crisp.
- Finally, prepare your simple beer batter and bring your oil up to temperature (about 365°).
- Dip each piece of fish into the batter and carefully fry (in batches) for a few minutes until golden-brown and crunchy. Keep warm on a wire rack.
Now all that’s left to do in order make these scrumptious Baja fish tacos is to stuff all of those delicious elements into your warm corn tortillas, along with a few sprigs of fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
And last, but not least, enjoy!
Tips & Tidbits for Baja Fish Tacos:
- Prepare your slaw and your sauce before frying your fish: Having all of your other elements ready to go before you begin battering and frying your fish is essential. Have your citrus slaw prepped and cold, as well as your baja fish taco sauce and any other finishing touches.
- Firm, flaky white fish is best: Cod is a cost-effective and perfect choice for these fish tacos—it takes on the flavors from the marinade, and keeps its shape and texture once it’s fried.
- Corn tortillas are traditional: I would recommend that you use a very soft corn tortilla for these tacos, and double up so that they don’t split and fall apart (Mission brand “super soft” are great.). However, we actually often use flour tortillas (the fajita size ones) because we prefer the texture and the convenience of these not falling apart on us. The choice is yours!
- Prepare your batter just before frying: I find that gently whisking the beer into the seasoned flour and preparing the beer batter just before frying creates a crispier batter because the carbonation is still very fresh. You can prepare the batter ahead of time, but expect that it may “flatten” a bit.
- Other delicious finishing touches: Some other tasty touches to add to your Baja fish tacos are fresh, sliced radishes, fresh cilantro leaves, and a little squeeze of a lime wedge!
- Reheating your tacos for leftovers: We use our toaster oven set to 400° and bake the leftover battered fish until hot and crispy—it reheats really well. Then, simply warm up your tortillas, and assemble your tacos.
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
Baja Fish Taco Recipe
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4 (3 tacos each)
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook time: 25 minutes
Baja Fish Taco Sauce Ingredients:
• 1 cup mayo
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• 5 cloves garlic
• 1 tablespoon lime zest
• 1 tablespoon lime juice
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon (slightly heaping) salt
Citrus Slaw Ingredients:
• 1 teaspoon orange zest
• 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
• 1 tablespoon lime juice
• Pinch salt
• Pinch black pepper
• 1 teaspoon agave or honey
• 1/4 cup olive or avocado oil
• 4 cups thinly shredded green cabbage
• 2 cups thinly shredded red cabbage
• 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Fish Tacos Ingredients:
• 1 1/4 pound cod, cut into short strips or bite-size chunks
• Black pepper
• Pinch cayenne pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 (12 ounce) bottle of beer (I used a Mexican lager)
• Vegetable oil, for frying (about 3 cups)
• Corn tortillas, warm (about 24 tortillas so you can double up on each taco)
• Cilantro leaves, lime, sliced radishes, for garnish
–Prepare your spicy garlic-lime mayo by placing all ingredients into a food processor and processing until smooth and combined; pour into a bowl, or into a squeeze bottle, ideally.
–Prepare your citrus slaw by whisking together the orange zest, orange juice, lime juice, pinch of salt and pepper, agave or honey, and oil until well-combined (you can also shake these vigorously in a small mason jar for convenience), and set aside for a moment; add both of your shredded cabbages and the cilantro into a medium-size bowl, and toss the dressing you just made with the cabbage/cilantro; keep cold.
–To prepare you fish tacos, add your cod pieces to a bowl and season with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, plus the cayenne, cumin, coriander and garlic powder; allow them to marinate for a few minutes while you get your oil ready and prepare to fry.
–Prepare a baking sheet with foil and a place a wire rack over top (if you have one) to hold the cod once it’s been fried; next, add enough oil to a deep pan or a medium-size pot so that the fish can be submerged when you fry it (about 3 cups), and bring it to 365°.
–While your oil heats, whisk together the flour with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, and slowly pour in the beer and whisk just until smooth; once the oil is hot, dip the pieces of cod into the batter and fry in batches (it took 3 batches for me) for a 3-4 minutes or until golden-brown.
–To assemble, add a couple of pieces of the fried cod to the bottom of a couple of corn tortillas, top with a generous amount of the slaw, add in some radishes (if using), drizzle the spicy garlic-lime sauce liberally over top, and finish with some extra cilantro and a squeeze of lime.