Fish tacos beg to be eaten standing up outside on the porch with a cold beer and plenty of napkins to sop up dripping lime juice and salsa. Now that it's starting to feel like spring, it is time to get cracking with some fried fish. Pati Jinich's excellent Rodrigo-Style Fish from Pati's Mexican Table is just the ticket.
Dredged in flour and pan-fried, the fish fillets themselves are nothing out of the ordinary. But add a generous drizzle of her citrusy-salty-herby sauce and you'll quickly be in fish taco heaven. The whole fillets also make a lovely entree on their own if you're looking to eat your meal with a fork and knife.
Why I picked this recipe: Fish tacos. 15 minutes (okay more like 20 with prep). Need I say more?
What worked: The fish is easy to cook, provided there is enough oil in the pan; and each element in the sauce adds a subsequent level of bright, fresh vibrancy to the crisp seafood.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: You could serve this sauce on any mild seafood or even chicken. I'd also eat it as a dipping salsa with fresh tortilla chips. I found Maggi sauce in the Asian section of my grocery store, but you may need to poke around to find a bottle. Jinich lists soy sauce as a substitute, but I think Bragg's Liquid Aminos is a slightly better match.
Reprinted with permission from Pati's Mexican Table: The secrets of real Mexican home cooking by Pati Jinich. Copyright 2013. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- For the Sauce:
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (white and light green parts only)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons seeded (if desired) and chopped jalapeño or serrano chile, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon Maggi sauce or soy sauce
- Kosher or coarse sea salt
- For the Fish:
- 6 tilapia fillets (about 6 ounces each), or other mild white fish fillets, such as sea bass, grouper, red snapper, or rockfish, rinsed and patted dry
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- All-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil
- 12 corn tortillas, warmed
For the Sauce: In a small bowl, combine scallions, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, jalapeño, and Maggi sauce, and stir to mix well. Set aside for at least 15 minutes. Season with salt if necessary to taste before serving.
For the Fish: Sprinkle fish fillets with the salt and pepper. Spread flour on a large plate and coat each fillet thoroughly on both sides.
Heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add fish, in batches to avoid crowding, and sear for about 3 minutes, until thoroughly browned on the bottom. Don’t fiddle with fillets; let them brown completely so they release easily from the pan. Turn and sear for about 3 minutes on second side. The fish is ready when the thickest part is cooked through and it flakes easily with a fork. Put fish on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in a low (250°F) oven.
Transfer fish to a platter and pour sauce on top. Or you can do as I do and flake the fish and serve it drizzled with sauce, ready to make tacos. Serve with corn tortillas.