Buttermilk Fried Fish Tacos

Fresh Local Tortillas

Buttermilk Fried Fish Tacos

I learned this technique at a Mexican restaurant in New Orleans, and it reflects these two styles. A California style fish taco but fried with a classic southern batter of buttermilk and hot sauce, and a cornmeal dredge. We made it with catfish filets, but flaky whitefish works as well. It pairs well with classic taco fixings, but I like to serve it with a light citrusy cabbage slaw and chipotle mayo. 

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For the batter: 
2 pounds filleted whitefish: haddock, tilapia or cod would work well, as well as catfish if you’re feeling adventurous 
1 cup buttermilk 
2 Tbsp hot sauce (I like Valentina for this) 
For the Dredge:
1 cup cornmeal 
1 cup AP flour 
2 Tbsp chili powder 
1 Tbsp Salt
For the Slaw 
1 small purple cabbage quartered and then sliced very thin 
1 orange segmented and each segment cut into thirds 
Small handful of cilantro leaves, de-stemmed 
Juice of half a grapefruit
1 tbsp rice vinegar 
1 tsp sugar 
1 tsp salt for the Mayo 
¾ cup mayonnaise 
2 tbsp sauce from canned chipotle in adobo 
¼ of a lime, juiced 
½ cup neutral oil for frying (or more depending on pan size) 


  1. Filet your fish into 1 ½  inch by ½ inch strips and allow to marinate in the buttermilk hot sauce mixture for 30 minutes to an hour
  2. While the fish is marinating make your slaw by tossing all the ingredients together thoroughly in a bowl
  3. Make your mayo by whisking all the ingredients together until smooth
  4. Pour your oil into a shallow pan. You should have enough oil to submerge the bottom third of your battered fish filets. This quantity will vary depending on the size pan you use, and the size pan will determine how many batches you will have to fry. This is all up to you, but whatever you do don’t overcrowd the pan, this will drop the temperature of the oil and make your fish less crispy.  Preheat your oil on medium high. It’s hot enough when a thin piece of cabbage dropped in immediately begins to bubble and rises to the top
  5. Dredge the battered fish in the cornmeal flour mixture and immediately place in oil, allow to cook for at least a minute before moving it so the batter can seal on. Frying flaky fish without a deep fryer is a delicate process so use a fish spatula if you have one and don’t worry if the filets break a little, they will still be delicious. Once the fish is golden brown on the bottom flip and cook for about a minute, the fish should be golden brown on both sides but still silky in the middle. 
  6. Season the fish with salt and chili powder as soon as it comes out of the oil, this is when it sticks best. 
  7. Plate on a fresh hot Mi Tierra tortilla, fish first then mayo, then cabbage slaw
Cut Fillets
Make Your Favorite Slaw To Garnish
*Don’t be like me, don’t overcrowd your pan

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