Baja Fish Tacos

27 Feb


Back in my days in the U.S. Marines, when I was stationed in Southern California, I used to take weekend trips with some friends down to Rosarito Beach, Mexico. Among all the wonderful things that Rosarito Beach had to offer, one of my first stops was to this little taco stand across from the hotel we always stayed at. Although I do not remember the name of the place anymore, I certainly do remember the flavors! The fish tacos were unlike any I have ever tasted, fried in a rich batter, served with fresh, handmade, corn tortillas, cabbage, salsa, and a delicious mayonnaise, served with a ice cold Pacifico clara! To me, this was the ultimate weekend getaway!

Baja Fish Tacos

These flavors were all but forgotten until I watched an episode of Rick Bayless’s outstanding series, Mexico: One Plate at A Time. There he was making what sounded like the same fish tacos I had fell in love with all those years ago! I instantly placed a sticky note in my head to test out this recipe and share the recipe with you!

I made a few modifications to his recipe for my tastes, but if you want the exact recipe, you can find it at his website under Classic Ensenada Fish Tacos. I left out the baking powder, as I found that the batter became very “puffy” while frying and I added some lime zest to bring a bit of citrus flavor to the beer batter. You can experiment with different types of beers also, a deep amber beer will give this batter a great nutty flavor, almost any type of beer will work, but I would avoid using a wheat beer, as it tends to alter the consistency of the batter.  You will also find that my salsa is different than his, I am using a classic salsa recipe that I learned from my wife. Finally, I use a chipotle sauce rather than a plain jane mayonnaise based sauce. I just like the smokiness of chipotle with the citrus flavors of the fish. None of these modifications are to say that I know better than Rick Bayless, I just wanted to add a bit of my own flavors to his great recipe!

Baja Fish Tacos

One of the best things about testing out a recipe is getting to eat the finished product. I cracked open a cold bottle of Corona and took a bite of my fish taco. I closed my eyes and was instantly transported back to that little roadside taco stand in Rosarito Beach…



 Baja Fish Tacos

(Adapted from Rick Bayless’s Ensenada Fish Tacos )

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless fish fillets (I like halibut or cod, but you can use just about anything)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chicken-flavor powdered bouillon (I use Knorr)
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Lime zest
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches for frying


  • ½ head savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Salsa de Chile Arbol (see below)
  • Chipotle Sauce (see below)
  • Lime wedges
  1. Finely mince the garlic, sprinkle generously with salt, then mash back and forth with the side of a knife across a cutting board until it makes a paste.
  2. Put the garlic paste into a medium bowl and add the oregano, black pepper, mustard, bouillon, beer, lime zest and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. Add the flour to the wet ingredients and whisk just until combined.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet or dutch oven to 370 degrees.
  5. Cut the fish into pieces about 3 inches long by 1/2 inch square
  6. Take a piece and dip it completely into the batter, then lay it gently in the oil.Keep going with a few more pieces (4 at a time). Fry, turning regularly, until they are a deep golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes.
  7. Drain on a paper towel and then place in a warm oven on a wire rack over a sheet pan while the rest of the fish are frying.
  8. Set out with cabbage, salsa, warm corn tortillas, limes and the crispy fish for everyone to make tacos.

    Baja Fish Tacos


Salsa de Chile Arbol

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 peel of onion
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/2 ounce (15-20) dried arbol chiles
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  1. In a small saucepan, bring about 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Remove the stems and caps from the chiles.
  3. In an ungreased skillet over medium heat, toast the chiles, toss constantly to avoid burning, until the chiles fill the kitchen with their toasty aroma, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. Once the chiles are toasted, put them in the boiling water with the tomato and boil for about 5 minutes.
  5. Drain well and place in a blender or a food processor with the garlic,onion, and cilantro. Pulse until nearly smooth.
  6. Add the salt.

    Chile de Arbol

    Chile de Arbol


Chipotle Sauce

  • 1/3 cup Chipotle Mayo
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  1. Whisk all ingredients together until you make a smooth sauce.


Chipotle Mayonaise

  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon water
  • ½  tablespoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1/8 of a teaspoon salt
  1. Using an immersion blender in a deep cup (I use a Pyrex 4 cup measuring cup), blend the yolk, liquid, chile powder, and salt.
  2. While still blending, start incorporating  the oil mixture a bit at a time (What I do is put the oil in a squeeze bottle).
  3. Once all the oil is incorporated, you will have a nice, thick, mayo.

    Baja Fish Tacos

    Baja Fish Tacos

18 Responses to “Baja Fish Tacos”

  1. frugalfeeding February 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    These look really yummy – fish tacos always make my mouth water.

    • cjdelgrosso February 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

      They are awesome! Although not very frugal, fish is expensive these days!

  2. hautemealz February 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Man, that looks fantastic! Love good fish tacos, and I’ve had the real thing when in Mexico myself. I’m really looking forward to trying this out!

    Thanks for the recipe!


    PS – Thank you, too, for your service!

    • cjdelgrosso February 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by! This is a great recipe and be sure to use CORN tortillas (I am a traditionalist!). 🙂

  3. Vixxy P February 28, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    These look incredible! so much it is making my mouth water …. and it is past midnight!

    • cjdelgrosso February 28, 2012 at 3:45 am #

      Why thank you! I am quite flattered that the food made your mouth water!

  4. sugaredpecan February 29, 2012 at 12:50 am #

    These sound so delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Kiri W. February 29, 2012 at 2:50 am #

    Sounds delicious! I only found out about Fish Tacos when I went to San Diego 2 years ago, but I’ve been in love ever since. The chipotle mayo has me swooning!

    • cjdelgrosso February 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      Fish tacos are a phenomena in SoCal. They are not done too much out here in New England. Hmmm I’m thinking fish taco food truck?

  6. cookinginsens February 29, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    I like the sound of that chipolte mayo! I must have some powder around here somewhere!

  7. Holly Henry March 2, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    These look delicious! And I’m quite sure right about the Corona pairing 🙂

  8. Jessica | Oh Cake March 2, 2012 at 1:16 am #

    Funny… I had been thinking about fish tacos this week – great post!

    • cjdelgrosso March 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      Now I am always thinking about them!

    • cjdelgrosso March 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      Now I am always thinking about them! Too bad they are deep fried or I would eat them once a week…

  9. thesaltygoat March 29, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    Oh my! These look so good. We don’t really get authentic Mexican food in Australia, so this is something I have to try!

    • cjdelgrosso March 29, 2012 at 11:37 am #

      Great! Let me know how it turns out for you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: