Half virtuous–half decadent. That is the genius of the fish taco. The virtuous part is the lightness of the fish, the fresh crunch of the cabbage, the tang of cilantro and lime. The decadence is in the cool and creamy sauce spiced with chipotle and lime, the velvety avocado and the comfortingly warmed corn tortillas. I’ve seen many a friend order the fish taco when “a little more than a salad” or “a little less than a burger” was the gustatory goal. It inspired me to adapt a recipe like this for home lunches or dinner—and this one is my favorite so far. These fit the formula—crisp, creamy, cool, and tangy.
Crispy Fish Tacos with Creamy Chipotle Sauce
Ingredients for the Sauce:
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lime juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Ingredients for the Fish:
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tilapia filets, cut into strips
1 cup buttermilk
Vegetable or olive oil for frying
Ingredients for serving the tacos:
16 corn tortillas, warmed
To make the sauce, stir together all of the ingredients into a serving bowl and set aside.
To prepare the fish: combine the flour and the seven seasonings in a shallow dish or pie pan. Dip the tilapia strips into the buttermilk and then dredge in the seasoned flour and set on a baking sheet until ready to cook.
Just before serving, heat the oil in a skillet and fry the fish strips turning as they brown. Remove them to a paper towel-lined plate.
Assemble the tacos: in each warmed corn tortilla, place a few fish strips, a forkful of cabbage, an avocado slice, a drizzle of the sauce and top with cilantro leaves. Serve with wedges of lime on the side.