BAJA-STYLE

The fish tacos at Tacos La Bufadora in El Monte, California aren’t fussy. On Wednesdays, they’re a dollar each. Beer battered tilapia with shredded cabbage, crema, and occasionally pico de gallo in white corn tortillas. This is the way it’s done all over Baja California, Mexico, and this is the way I like to make them at home. No mango salsas, no “blackened” fish, no jicama, no Sriracha. Best enjoyed with a cold beer or a pitcher of watermelon agua fresca.  

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BAJA FISH TACOS

for 4 servings or 16 tacos: 
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
zest from 2 limes
1/2 a small head of green cabbage, finely shredded
1-2 avocados, peeled/pitted/sliced
16 (small) white corn tortillas, warmed
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
about 1 bottle of lager, such as Negra Modelo
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon white pepper powder
2 pounds firm fish fillet, such as cod, flounder, tilapia, halibut
canola oil for frying
3 limes cut into wedges
cilantro (optional)

Combine the mayonnaise, crema, chili powder, garlic, and lime zest and refrigerate. Mix the batter by combining the flour, beer, salt and white pepper. Portion the fish into strips, about 3-4 inches long. Heat the oil in a heavy pot on medium-high flame. Dip the fish in the batter and fry in batches until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack. To assemble, place some shredded cabbage and one slice of avocado in each warmed tortilla with the fish on top. Spoon the sauce over the fish. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

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WATERMELON AGUA FRESCA 

1 seedless watermelon, cubed
fresh lime juice (1/4 cup for every 4 cups of watermelon)
honey (to taste, optional) with 1 teaspoon warm water
fresh mint leaves and lime wheels for garnish
ice

Puree the watermelon in a food processor or blender and pour through a sieve to retain the juice. Discard the pulp. Stir in the lime juice. If the watermelon is already very sweet, you will not need to add the honey. Pour the agua fresca into glasses with ice, mint, and a lime wheel.

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