These Beer Battered Fish Tacos are light and crispy with a killer sauce that brings all the flavors together!
Where did beer battered fish tacos come from? In general, fish tacos are a classic dish that some sources believe was influenced by fishermen from Japan working near or in Mexico. Others believe indigenous people living on the coast of Mexico were the first fish taco innovators.
Adding beer battered fish to the mix might sound like fusion cuisine to some; fish-n-chips are a British staple after all. But beer battered fish tacos have evolved in ways that make them more unique than just a collision of old and new.
The first hurdle to clear with a recipe like this is deciding whether you want to go fusion by adding elements of another culture’s cooking such as a curry sauce or the addition of pickled daikon radish or pickled ginger.
The recipe we are talking about here is further away from fusion and closer to authentic-inspired fish tacos. No, this isn’t a fully traditional recipe but you can use this as a baseline to add fusion ingredients next time as an experiment. You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to make fusion tacos once you have these basics down (see below).
There is a reason why you don’t see salmon tacos on the menu at your favorite restaurant. Fish with strong flavors tend to overpower a taco. Any white fish such as tilapia, cod, orange roughy, or haddock will do. Many people swear by cod.
You’ll find a wide range of opinions on this subject. Some say you should absolutely NEVER use a dark or powerfully flavored beer like an IPA. These fish taco fans prefer their beer battered fish to be made with light-colored beer such as a Mexican lager (Del Sol, Corona, Tecate) or a weak American beer like Budweiser.
Some who cook beer battered fish of any kind say the cheaper American beers are ideal for cooking battered fish, “the cheaper the better” is a rallying cry for some.
In general, it’s better to stick to the more familiar brands when picking the cheapest amber beer for consistency’s sake–while some of us feel that Budweiser may drink like it’s been diluted with rainwater, as an ingredient in a beer battered fish, it is fairly consistent in its results as an ingredient.
In every recipe, there are ingredients that are essential to the basic construction of the dish, and those that are optional. Some may wish to opt for a non-alcoholic beer; the alcohol in beer is not necessary for the cooking process so any non-alcoholic lager or lighter-colored beer may suffice.
Some have cilantro issues–a certain portion of the population is allergic to it and as a result cilantro can, for these diners, have a soapy flavor that is fairly off-putting. If you need to substitute cilantro, you may wish to use Thai basil, Mexican oregano, cumin, or caraway seeds as a substitute. You may find that some cilantro replacements just don’t do the job; in some cases, it may be better to omit it altogether.
This recipe calls for jalapenos, which some feel are too spicy in general. You can mitigate the heat of the jalapeno by slicing it open and removing not just the seeds but also the white bits which also carry heat. This allows you to enjoy the flavor of the pepper but with the burn significantly reduced or omitted completely.
There are three ingredients in the recipe below which would need to be replaced, starting with the fish itself, plus the mayo, sour cream, and egg called for in the batter and sauce. You can swap pico de gallo for the sauce, and you may need to experiment with using an egg substitute in the batter or omitting the egg completely.
You can swap out the fish for a meat substitute including vegan chicken, but you may want to consider adding some Old Bay seasoning to the meat substitute to give it a more “seafood” flavor profile. There is no seafood in Old Bay but it is used so commonly in seafood dishes that some associate the two.
For the sauce:
- 4 - 6 jalapeños, divided; you'll only need one for the sauce, the rest are for serving
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
For the batter:
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 egg
- 1 cup beer
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
For the fish:
- 1 pound white fish, tilapia, cod, etc.
- vegetable oil
- shredded green cabbage
- corn tortillas
- chopped fresh cilantro
- Preheat oven to 400F. Place jalapeños on a baking sheet and roast until slightly blackened. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, mix all sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl. Chop one roasted jalapeño and stir into sauce. Allow to sit at room temperature while you prepare the batter.
- Whisk egg in a shallow dish. Add beer and stir, then whisk in dry ingredients until smooth (just 1/2 teaspoon salt; the rest is for seasoning the fish).
- Pour vegetable oil or other high smoke-point oil in a deep pot until it reaches 375F.
- Dip fish into batter and fry until golden brown, then set on paper towels to absorb the excess grease. Immediately season with remaining salt after placing on paper towels.
- Serve fish in a corn tortilla with shredded cabbage, sauce, chopped cilantro and extra chopped roasted jalapeños. Then have a beer to enjoy with it!