baja fish tacos with anna
I met Anna at work, but really bonded with her over a mutual love of good food and hiking. Anna's one of the funniest people I've ever met. And she's always cooking something, and often bringing her yummy treats into the office. She's got a budding business selling prepped meals and catering small events. She's also got a great blog full of recipes with her "Swann in the Kitchen" brand. Oh and she tried out for Master Chef. Made it to the top 80. So close.
Anna grew up in California. That sunny, beach side upbringing plus her Filipino family background has definitely inspired her cooking the most.
"My dad cooked a lot. He did most of the cooking growing up. He taught me how to cook in probably eighth grade. But I REALLY didn't start cooking until after high school. I think the food network really started it for me. I would just try things I saw and kept trying recipes and it just stuck. It got to the point where I knew what flavors I liked, and once I got more comfortable and figured out what I liked, I just cooked.
My favorite thing about cooking? I love cooking for friends because it brings people together. And it just reminds me of home because that’s what we’d do as a family. In the Filipino culture, food plays a really big part in family gatherings and family’s always really important.
My husband Spencer and I enjoy making pizza. I like making the dough. There's something really relaxing about making bread or baking. It's calming. Best pizza in town? Pie Tap is way up there now, Cane Rosso of course… Whenever I go home to California, I feel like I HAVE to get Mountain Mike’s. But it’s just like delivery pizza. Their pepperonis are the best because it’s the grease cups that get crisp around the edges. You know what I’m talking about? SO good.
I also really do like making Filipino food. Especially my chicken adobo. I just can’t eat it a lot. Trying to cut back on rice. When I do make it though, I try to add a lot of vegetables and I try to use the low sodium soy sauce. But it just brings back memories about growing up Filipino.
What was your best meal?
My favorite meals are always connected to great memories. The one that stands out to me the most right now is when Spencer and I took a last minute trip down to Fredericksburg. We went and hiked up Enchanted Rock in the morning and then grabbed lunch at the Black Pig, this stationary food truck that this lady runs in the middle of Hill Country. We were driving along winding country roads to get there., but the food...SO good. It's nothing fancy, but the flavors! I just got the roasted garlic & goat cheese crostini and her soup of the day (zuppa toscano). Spencer got her fried catfish, but i can clearly remember the flavors and textures of everything we ate. I looked at spencer and told him that was my favorite meal of the trip, and we had just gone to a nice dinner the night before!
Oh, I also almost shed tears when I first tried the brisket at Franklin's BBQ when we went for my sister's bachelorette a couple years ago.
So this recipe is based off of the very first time I had a fish taco. That was in Santa Barbara. We were visiting my sister in college, and she took us to the Santa Barbara pier and she took us to this like little shack. I was with my brother and we were so hungry. They were delicious. Beer battered fish, probably caught that day, fresh corn tortillas, cabbage, and pico. It was just really fresh. And that started off my obsession with fish tacos and every single taco, if there was a fish taco on the menu, I compared it to that. So I’m a little judgmental. That is my standard. And since I couldn’t really find what I liked I just made it myself.
I think that’s my favorite part about cooking. Eating something and then trying to recreate it at home, and just figuring it out by taste or looking up something when I need to. And then just going for it.
I would not be exaggerating when I say that this was one of the best fish tacos I've ever eaten. In fact, this may now be MY standard by which I compare all fish tacos to from now on. The beer-batter was not heavy at all, but crisp and light and flaky, just like the cut of fish. The avocado sauce and the garlic creme added the perfect balance of flavors, along with the fresh pico, to make each bite truly a balance of fresh and flavorful ingredients. I think a lot of people are afraid of radishes because they don't know how to properly use them but here, the thinly sliced radishes added a nice bite and crisp texture to the taco. If I close my eyes, I can imagine myself eating these tacos ocean-side, toes in the sand, with the crash of the surf rolling back and forth against the beach.
BEER BATTERED BAJA FISH TACOS W/ AVOCADO SAUCE & GARLIC CREMA
¾ lb pacific cod
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 radishes – halved and thinly sliced
1 roma tomato – chopped
1 jalapeno – diced
¼ red onion – chopped
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon cilantro – chopped
2-3 tablespoons queso fresco – crumbled
1 bottle – Pacifico
1 cup All Purpose flour
1/3 c cornstarch
6 corn tortillas
lime for seasoning & garnish
For avocado sauce:
½ a ripe avocado
1 jalapeno – roughly chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
1 lime - juiced
handful of cilantro
¼ c sour cream
¼ c greek yogurt
salt & pepper to taste
For garlic crema:
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup sour cream
salt & pepper to taste
Squeeze of lime juice
Combine spices for fish in a small bowl. Cut fish into approximately long 1 inch wide slices. Season with spice mixture and set aside in pie dish. Add enough oil into cast iron skillet to be about 1 -1 ½ inches deep, warm to 350 degrees.
While the oil is heating, prep veggies and place into separate prep containers. In a small bowl, combine chopped tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, cilantro and juice of half a lime. Mix together, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In blender, combine all ingredients for avocado sauce. Blend until smooth. If it is too thick, thin out with water, adding a little bit at a time until desired consistency is reached.
For garlic crema, smash garlic cloves, chop and smash on cutting board to create a garlic paste. Place garlic in a small bowl and add sour cream. Mix together, season with salt and pepper and squeeze of lime. If it’s too thick, thin out with water, carefully adding a little at a time.
For the fish batter, add flour and cornstarch to a large bowl. Add a little bit of spice mixture. Slowly pour in beer, starting with half the bottle. Whisk together and slowly continue to add beer until desired consistency is achieved – batter should be similar to pancake batter. Dredge fish in a light coating of cornstarch before dipping in batter. Carefully add fish pieces to heated oil and fry about 2-3 minutes each side. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel lined pan/plate. Heat tortillas over stove burners, lightly charring each side. If you don’t have gas burners, warming them in a skillet works just as well.
For plating, place 1-2 pieces of fish on each tortilla, top with garlic crema, add shredded cabbage, avocado sauce, pico de gallo, queso fresco and radish. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with a lime wedge.