Chefs at Home: Cerveza Tempura Tilapia Tacos
Sweet, mild tilapia lends itself well to the bold flavors in this taco. Chef Andrew dresses this taco with an El Salvadoran pickled cabbage slaw called curtido, which brightens up the flavors; and a chipotle mayo which brings some heat and silkiness to this otherwise lean fish.
BY CHEF ANDREW ROBINSON OF SHY BIRD IN CAMBRIDGE, FORMERLY OF TIGER MAMA IN BOSTON
For the Curtido
- 1/4 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup Atlantic Sea Farms fermented seaweed salad
- 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- Zest and juice of one lemon
For the Chipotle Mayo
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise of your choice (I like Kewpie)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
For the Fish
- 1 tilapia filet, cut into 1-to-2-inch pieces
- 1 whole egg
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 7 ounces Mexican lager (like Tecate or Modelo)
- Kosher salt, to taste
For the Finish
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
- Thinly sliced red onions
- Cilantro leaves
Mix the ingredients together in a medium bowl. You can make this up to 3 days in advance and refrigerate - the longer it sits, the better it gets.
The Chipotle Mayo
Place the mayonnaise in a small bowl and whisk in a teaspoon at a time of the adobo sauce. Add more to taste - a little goes a long way.
Assemble corn tortillas, lime wedges, thinly sliced red onion, cilantro leaves, and any other garnishes you’d like for your tacos. Set aside.
Heat canola oil to a depth of one inch in a medium high-sided pan (a cast-iron would work well) over medium heat and bring to between 350° and 375°F.
While the oil heats, season the pieces of tilapia with salt and pepper and set aside.
Whisk the egg, flour, beer, and salt together in a large mixing bowl (If you'd like to keep it alcohol-free you can use club soda. The bubbles will help the tempura to be crispy and fluffy.).
When the oil is hot, toss the fish in the batter and shake off the excess. Carefully lower it into the hot oil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes - you want it to be a deep golden brown. Thicker pieces will take a little longer but will still cook relatively quickly.
Drain the fish on a brown paper bag or paper towels to remove extra oil and season each piece liberally on each side with salt .
To Finish and Serve
The rest is simple: Build the tacos with the fish, chipotle mayo, a few spoonfuls of curtido, and any additional garnishes you want.