Saturday, April 5, 2014

Fried Fish Tacos with Sriracha Sour Cream

Fried fish tacos; it's like being at the beach...sort of.

When I first heard of fried fish tacos in college I turned up my nose at them because I had exactly zero good experiences with fried fish.  My first experience with fried fish was an undercooked fish stick in my grade school cafeteria (this is one of about eight times that I threw up in the cafeteria in second grade; all the other times involved boiled hot dogs).  My second experience did not actually involve me eating fish, but our church hosted a catfish fry, and the church reeked of fish for months afterwards.  To make a short story, long, I was not predisposed to trying fried fish tacos.

To be completely honest, I wasn't predisposed to liking any seafood at all.  I pretty much avoided it with relative ease until the fateful summer after my sophomore year in college when I was living and working in Myrtle Beach.  I went to some generic beachy restaurant and every single person in the group ordered fish tacos. "Ahh, fish tacos, I wanted a hamburger, but everyone else is having fish- why can't Christian be here? She would order bread with cheese!" I thought to myself.

I let out a meek, "Me, too, with a diet coke."

"Is diet Pepsi okay?" the overly perky waitress asked?

"I'll take water."

Begin Rant *Really, why do waitresses ask if Diet Pepsi will be okay? It is not even on remotely the same playing field as Diet Coke.  Water is a healthier choice anyhow.* End Rant

When the fish tacos arrived, I was surprised by how beautiful they were.  The bright purple coleslaw and pineapple and red onion salsa actually looked appealing, and the fish didn't smell fishy at all.  I would be lying if I said the tacos were amazing, but they were solidly okay, and I realized that I didn't have to hate fish anymore.

Over time, I've come to appreciate the sweet umami flavor from a perfectly cooked flaky fish, and I really love how the different marinades, dressings, and techniques can drastically alter the profile of the dish.

These fried fish tacos are made with the least fishy of the fish, Tilapia which I recommend for this recipe because its the flavor medley that is the star, not the fish.  Rather than cornmeal which is traditional for frying fish, I used a spicy corn flour breading which is lighter than cornmeal.  In my opinion the lighter flour gives all the flavor and crunch without the unnecessary dry crumb. I stuffed these in homemade corn flour tortillas and topped it with a sweet slaw (recipe in this post) and Sriracha Sour Cream.  The sweet slaw could easily be replaced with any sweet slaw or salsa (pineapple mango anyone?), but you should brave the heat and try the Sriracha Sour Cream. The Sriracha gives this dish a flavor punch and the sour cream gives the dish that rich fattiness that would otherwise be lacking.

The only bad thing about these fish tacos is that your house will smell a little weird for about 16 hours (on average).

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Fried Fish Tacos with Sriracha Sour Cream

Fried tilapia, sweet coleslaw and spicy sour cream wrapped in a warm corn tortilla. What's not to love?
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 Small Tacos
  • 4 Tilapia Fillets- approx 3 oz each, thawed
  • 1/2 Cup Corn Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Pepper
  • 3/4 Cup Sweet Coleslaw
  • 1/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Sriracha
  • 1/2 Cup Canola Oil for frying
  • 8 Corn Tortillas
  • 1 Egg- Whisked
1. Combine corn flour, cayenne, pepper, parika, garlic powder and salt in a shallow dish. Mix thoroughly2. Dip tilapia filet in egg then in corn flour mixture. Coat thoroughly but not thickly (no clumps). Set aside and repeat for all four fillets.3. Heat oil to medium heat, then fry fillets one side at a time until golden brown. For me this was about 2.5 minutes on the first side and about 45 seconds on the second side. The inside should be thoroughly cooked and flaky at this point.4. Set fried fillets aside to cool. Combine sour cream and sriracha5. Choose your method for portioning fish. I like big flaky chunks, so I cut my fillets against the grain using a sharp paring knife. You could also choose to leave the fillets much larger depending on your preferences.6. Assemble tacos, don't forget to serve with cilantro and lemon

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