There are few foods more satisfying than the crunch of beer-battered fried fish tacos. However, some are uncomfortable cooking with alcoholic beverages. This is an excellent recipe to keep the flavor and lose the beer.
For your pleasure, we have included two bonus recipes: a pineapple drink and homemade tortillas. We also list some toppings and sauces that you may enjoy.
Because this recipe uses hot oil, it may be wise to wear long sleeves and make sure children and pets aren’t near the stove. It’s also a good idea to ventilate the kitchen.
Step 1: Homemade Tortillas (2 Methods Included)
Tortilla-making (especially the first few times) can be a messy business! Make sure to wear a shirt with short sleeves and wash your arms to your elbows with hot water and soap. Put on an apron that covers the torso area; Maseca* tends to make a mess. Because we're offering two different methods of forming your tortillas (either with a tortilla press or a rolling pin) it's essential that you read through the entire recipe before you begin.
Yield: 12-19 tortillas (depending on the size of each tortilla)
2 c Maseca* (can be found at most local Walmarts or at least your local Latino market)
1 ½ c warm water
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tortilla press (If you don’t have a tortilla press, you can use a rolling pin.)
1 gallon Ziploc bag (Cut along the seams to open the bag into one flat piece of plastic.)
1 large, flat pan OR electric griddle
1 large bowl (for the tortilla masa*)
1 or 2 clean linen cloths (to wrap the tortillas and preserve their warmth)
Mixing the masa*:
1. Pour your Maseca into a large, clean bowl so that it makes a little mountain. Sprinkle the salt over the mountain.
2. Form a small crater in the top of the mountain (think volcano) and pour the warm water into the crater, and let it flow over the maseca. Mix and knead the mixture with your hand until it is one smooth ball. Add small amounts of Maseca or water as needed until the masa’s texture is neither crumbly nor sticky.
Forming and cooking the tortillas:
1. Decide whether you will use a tortilla press or a rolling pin. For each, you will need a Ziplock bag with the slide-lock cut off and the side seams sliced open. The tortilla press helps maintain consistency in tortilla thickness, is easier to use, and make rounder tortillas. If a rolling pin is more readily available to you, this will also work, but you will need to be careful to maintain a consistent thickness as you roll it out into a circle.
(In either case, make sure you experiment with the thickness of the tortilla; the thinner it is, the faster it will cook. If it’s too thick, then they will probably be undercooked on the inside. This won’t hurt you, but it’s a matter of taste. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the first few; you’ll have enough dough to practice a couple of times.)
2. Form all your balls of masa in order to count how many tortillas you can make and how many you might practice with. Pinch enough masa to roll into a smooth ball about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter. Repeat until you have no more masa.
3. Form your tortillas in your preferred method. (See two suggested methods below, labeled Tortilla Press Method and Rolling Pin Method.)
4. Heat your large, flat, dry skillet or electric griddle to medium high heat or 350 degrees. After you are satisfied with the thickness and size of your tortilla, open the ziplock bag, hold the tortilla on your dominant hand’s palm, and gently pull away the plastic from the tortilla. Place the tortilla on the hot pan or griddle.
5. Let each side cook according to personal taste (some like it golden brown, while others prefer it lighter or darker). Once cooked, place the tortilla on a plate and cover it with a linen cloth or clean dishrag. Stack consecutive tortillas on top of each other. Keep cloth covering the tortillas to maintain warmth.
Tortilla Press Method:
1. Take one masa ball and press it gently between your hands to make two flat sides and a rounded edge (about ½”-1” thick, like a coin). Fill in the larger cracks that appear. Open your tortilla press and place the open ziplock bag on top of it
2. Fold the ziplock bag over the masa.
3. Gently place the top of the tortilla press on top, pull the handle down, and press with both hands to flatten the masa.
4. Open the press, flip over the ziplock bag with the masa pressed inside, and press again just as you did before to make the tortilla an even thickness.
Rolling Pin Method:
1. Open your ziplock bag on your cutting board or flat, smooth surface. Take one masa ball and press it gently between your hands to make two flat sides and a rounded edge (about ½-1” thick, like a coin). Fill in the larger cracks that appear, and place on the open ziplock bag. Fold the ziplock bag over the masa.
2. Press down on the dough with your palm so that it will be flat enough to roll out. Then roll out the dough with your rolling pin into an even thickness in the shape of a circle.
Step 2: Agua De Piña (Pineapple Drink)
1 whole pineapple
¼-½ c sugar
2 quarts water
1. Using kitchen knife, cut off the bottom inch of the pineapple.
2. Break off the stalk of the pineapple and cut an inch off the top.
3. Cut off the sides of the pineapple to form a hexagon of skinless fruit.
4. Cut columns around the center so as to remove the inedible core.
5. Blend the pineapple pieces, moving from low speed to high speed until well blended.Pour or strain into pitcher, depending on whether you want it to be pulpy or not.
Step 3: Sober-Fried Fish
2 lbs tilapia fillets (if bought frozen, defrost before using)
1-1.5 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1.5-2 c water
3 c canola oil
Tongs (to flip fish in oil)
Whisk (or fork)
1. Cut the fillets into quarters, then into 1x3-inch strips as shown below. The size may vary depending on the size of your tortillas and the thickness of your fillets. If too thick, cut smaller to enable even cooking. Refrigerate the fish while making the batter.
2. Heat the oil in your skillet over medium heat to 360 degrees F. (If you’re working with a partner, this would be a good time for one of you to start on the agua de piña (see below) while the other finishes the fish.)
Use a whisk to mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Alternate between adding and whisking water until the batter resembles the thickness of pancake batter.
3. When the oil is hot, dip the fish pieces into the batter (making sure they’re fully covered in batter) and carefully add them to the hot oil, one by one. If you try to dip multiple fish pieces and add them to the oil simultaneously, they will stick together and may not cook thoroughly.
4. Cook the fish until it is golden brown on both sides (flip with tongs if needed) and is cooked through, about 4 to 6 minutes total. Remove from the pan and place on a plate or tray lined with a paper bag or paper towels to remove excess oil. Best served within 10 to 15 minutes of cooking.
Step 4: Toppings
All are recommended, but optional based on personal tastes.
2-3 medium tomatoes, diced
1/4 head of cabbage, shredded
3-4 radishes, sliced in rounds
1 white onion, finely chopped
2-3 limes, quartered
1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
1-2 avacados, sliced
Step 5: Glossary
Agua de piña: Popular Mexican pineapple drink.
Masa: The dough made from the Maseca, salt, and water.
Maseca: The corn flour used to make tortillas. Very different from cornmeal; do not substitute.
Tortilla: A flat corn flour cake that is eaten with most meals in Mexico.