Fish and chips, anyone? How about crunchy fish tacos? Oh, now I have your attention! This may be a simple and straightforward recipe, but it's absolutely perfect when you do it right.
For the most delicious crispy fish tacos, here is what you need to remember:
After you mix the batter, let it sit for 10 minutes to activate the batter. Doing this will help it puff up when it fries.
Pat the fish strips with paper towels before dredging (just like you would for fried chicken).
Don't overcrowd the pot. Too many pieces in the frying pan at the same time will drop the temperature of your cooking oil.
Avoid placing fried fish on a paper towel to absorb oil, causing steam and soggy fish. Use a wire rack set over a sheet pan.
1 lb skinless whitefish fillets, such as cod, haddock, or halibut, cut crosswise into 4x1-inch strips
Kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup beer (light-bodied American lagers work best here)
Peanut, canola or vegetable oil for frying
As we fry the fish in batches, we will keep them warm in the oven. Start by heating the oven to a low 200 degrees. Prep a sheet pan with a wire rack set inside. I like to put a sheet of foil on top of the sheet pan to catch drips.
After cutting the fish into strips, pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Here is where you can add other seasonings too like Old Bay if desired. Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt together in a large bowl. Add beer and whisk until you have an ultrathin beer batter. A thick batter would give you a thick, bready coating.
Submerge all the fish strips into the wet batter and leave them there while the oil comes to temperature on the stove.
Add oil to a deep Dutch oven until it measures about ¾ inch deep and then heat over medium-high to 350 degrees. Use a candy thermometer and watch the temp between batches because it will fluctuate. Allow the oil to come back to 350 degrees each time.
Working with 4 to 5 strips at a time, remove fish from the batter, allowing excess to drip back into the bowl, and carefully ease into the oil using tongs. One trick is to drag the fish along the surface of the oil to prevent sticking.
Adjust heat, if necessary, to maintain oil temperature between 325 and 350 degrees. Fry fish, stirring gently to prevent pieces from sticking together, until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer fish to prepared wire rack and place in the oven to keep warm. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining fish.
For my kids, I serve these like fish sticks with a side squeeze of ketchup.
Jim and I like them either wrapped in a warm tortilla (corn for me, flour for Jim), or on top of a crunchy tostada.
I highly recommend you also make this Salsa Veracruz and top your crunch fish taco or tostada with this unforgettable briney salsa.
Pro tip: The best way to reheat fried fish leftovers is in an Air Fryer.