Baja-Style Tempura Fish Tacos

These Baja-style tempura fish tacos are as authentic as they come. White fish is dunked in a quick chile-lime marinade and then battered and pan-fried until crisp before being tucked in soft tortillas and topped with slaw and banana mango salsa.

A basket containing two Baja-style tempura fish tacos and some pickled vegetables, with a bottle of Pacifico on the side.

This is how fish tacos happen in Baja, Mexico. None of this California-style grilled fish tacos. Nope. Pristine white fillets of fish are dunked in an ethereally crisp yet airy tempura batter and fried to perfection. In sharp contrast is a crisp coleslaw. The sweet (but with some heat) banana mango salsa may be a little untraditional but definitely tastes like it’s always belonged.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Baja-Style Tempura Fish Tacos

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 15 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes 10 tacos
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Special Equipment: Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer

Ingredients

  • For the chile-lime marinade
  • For the Baja tempura batter
  • For assembling the tacos

Directions

Make the chile-lime marinade

In a large bowl, combine the cold water, lime juice, garlic, chiles, oregano (if using) and salt. Add the fish and set aside at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Make the Baja tempura batter

In a separate bowl, whisk together the ice water and mustard. Gently stir in the flour, being careful not to overmix the batter; a few small lumps are okay. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Fry the fish

Drain the fish and pat the pieces dry with a paper towel. Have a plate lined with paper towels or a cut-open brown paper bag at the ready.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat at least 2 to 3 inches of oil over medium heat until it reaches 360°F (182°C) on a deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer.

Remove the tempura batter from the refrigerator and stir to recombine.

Dredge a few pieces of fish at a time in the batter, turning to coat them evenly. Gently lower a couple pieces of fish into the oil, adding a couple more pieces every 30 seconds. Fry no more than 4 pieces at a time. Fry the fish, turning as needed, until the pieces are crisp, light golden brown, and floating on the surface of the oil, about 2 1/2 minutes. Monitor the temperature of the oil throughout frying, letting the oil return to proper temperature between batches; to ensure crispness, it must remain a constant 360°F to 380°F (182°C to 193°C).

Using a fine-mesh skimmer, transfer the fried fish to the paper towel-lined plate or brown paper bag to drain. Repeat with the remaining fish and batter, being sure to remove any flecks of floating fried batter in between batches.

Assemble the fish tacos

Place the tortillas side by side, open face and overlapping, on a platter. (If using extra tortillas, simply double them up.) Divvy the slaw and fish equally among the tortillas. Top with salsa and desired garnishes or allow guests to do so themselves. Grab, fold, and eat right away. Originally published June 4, 2016.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

These were delicious fish tacos!

I used tilapia and would suggest marinating it for no longer than the 20 minutes. We thought the serrano pepper in the marinade would be too much with habanero in the salsa, but the mango and banana sweetened the salsa to a perfect balance with the crunchy Baja Cabbage Slaw.

This will definitely stay in my summer file for entertaining. Everything but the fish can be made ahead of time. Delicious.

These were wonderful fish tacos, loved by all. Because I’m trying to maintain a low-fat diet, I made them a bit differently: I used a thick piece of fresh halibut, which held up well to the marinade, that I broiled rather than fried.

My favorite part of this dish is the Mango-Banana Salsa. I can see putting this on a variety of grilled fish, or just serving with some chips. Another great thing about this dish is that you tailor the heat based on how hot or how mild you like your food. We tend to err on the medium side of things, so I chose a mild pepper for both the salsa and the fish marinade, as well as adding just a small bit of Tabasco in the coleslaw.

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