Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Crispy Fish Tacos with Sweet-and-Spicy Carrot Slaw

Crispy, golden brown nuggets of fish add both crunch and flavor to these easy, tasty soft tacos. Top them with a fresh vegetable slaw spiced with Thai chiles, and make your own quick, deliciously bold hot sauce for a casual fish taco dinner.

Note: I like using beer for the carbonation ingredient when I want a batter that fries up puffy and golden—whether for fish or onion rings. Club soda is an alternative but I’ve always had better results with beer. If you use beer, make sure it’s at room temperature for the best carbonation. (A little baking powder and baking soda help ensure a crunchy, puffy coating.)

And whether you use beer or club soda, work in batches to give the fish room to fry—and keep the oil hot, start to finish. That’s why I use a large, deep skillet instead of a pot for this dish—more room for the fish, and the oil is only about one-inch deep. I cut the fish into sizable two-inch pieces, so they’re sturdy and ready to stand up to frying. You’ll need only two pieces per taco.

Also note: If you have a gas range, give the tortillas a quick char directly over a burner for a little smoky flavor. Otherwise, wrap them in aluminum foil and warm them in a low oven.

Slaw tips: Use a vegetable peeler first to peel the carrots, then continue using it to shave the rest of the sticks. Give the shreds a coarse chop. For the cabbage, cut off about a 3-inch wedge and slice crosswise into thin shreds.

Shred the carrots with a vegetable peeler 
Coarsely chop the shreds 
Shred the cabbage by thinly slicing a wedge
For a lighter crispy fish taco, check out Fish Tacos with Spicy Olive and Green Apple Slaw.

Makes 8 tacos


For the Slaw
  • 3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped shredded carrot (from about 4 medium-large carrots)
  • 2 cups shredded savoy cabbage
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, with tender stems
  • 3 Thai chiles, very thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large radishes, chopped
Slaw Ingredients
For the Tacos
  • 1 cup flour, plus more for dredging
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup lager beer, room temperature
  • 1 lb skinless cod filets (about 1-inch thick), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • sea salt
  • 8 small, soft, flour or corn tortillas
  • hot sauce, for serving

For the Slaw
  1. Combine the vinegar, lime juice, and sugar in a small bowl, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine the carrots and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the dressing to the carrot mixture and toss well to combine. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Stir again before serving.
Slaw Vinaigrette
Mixed Slaw Ingredients 
Tossed with Dressing 

For the Tacos

  1. Combine 1 cup flour, table salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  2. Pour the beer into a large bowl and allow the foam to settle. 
  3. Whisk the flour mixture into the beer a little at a time, stirring constantly to prevent clumping. (The consistency should be fairly thick, but still pourable. Add a little more flour to thicken or a little more beer to thin, if needed.)
Prepped Ingredients
Mixed Batter
  1. Heat the oil in a deep, 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not boiling. (Depth should be about 1 inch.) If you have a thermometer, heat the oil to 350° F. Otherwise, heat for about 10 minutes, then drop a dot of batter into it. If it sizzles immediately, it’s ready.
  2. Dredge the fish pieces in flour, shaking off any excess, and add to the batter. Using tongs, remove one piece of fish at a time from the batter, letting excess drip off, and add to the hot oil.
  3. Working in batches, fry until crispy and golden, turning once or twice, 3-4 minutes. 
  4. Drain each batch on paper towels and season immediately with sea salt.
Floured Fish in Batter 
Fish Beginning to Fry 
Fish after Turning 
Fried Fish
  1. Meanwhile, lightly char the tortillas 1 at a time over a gas burner, using tongs to turn, about 10 seconds per side. Wrap in a clean kitchen towel until ready to use.
Charred Tortilla
Place the fish in a bowl and serve with warm tortillas, slaw, and hot sauce alongside.

Crispy Fish Tacos with Sweet-and-Spicy Carrot Slaw

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