I’ve always had a soft spot for the Baja Fish Taco. I think it has a lot to do with my fish and chip-heavy upbringing. I just can’t say no to beer-battered anything. Whenever I’m fortunate enough to find myself in a taqueria, I inevitably add a Baja Fish Taco to my order. I just can’t help it. And I would guess, neither can you. The Baja Fish Taco seems to be almost universally loved. But that won’t stop me from fiddling with it. Although to be fair, today’s Baja Fish Taco Salad is just a simple format change. What’s the point of improving upon perfection?
Now, before we start to fiddle with the Baja Fish Taco, let’s break down its components. Now, there is a lot of variation when it comes to this taco. But there are a few constants. A Baja Fish Taco must contain some kind of firm white fish and that fish must be grilled or deep-fried. The taco should include a creamy mayo and sour cream sauce. And there is always some form of slaw or fresh veg involved – here is where you find the most variation.
When I approached this Baja Fish Taco Salad, I knew I wanted to be true to the classic. I love the taco so much, there’s no point in redesigning it. But I did include a few hallmarks from my own fond seafood memories. Take the dressing for instance. The dressing is a riff on the Baja Fish Taco’s telltale creamy sauce. But I added a minced dill pickle to it because I am physically incapable of enjoying beer-battered fish without tartar sauce. And what’s tartar sauce without the pickle? The Baja Fish Taco sauce is already tartar sauce adjacent, I just nudged it a little further.
I strayed once again when it came to the greenery in this Baja Fish Taco Salad. Most Baja fish tacos are dressed with shredded cabbage. But as much as I love coleslaw and other cabbage-based dishes, I went with a blend of romaine lettuce and shredded fennel. Fennel and seafood as just made for each other. And romaine is a lobster roll classic. So, as you can see, between the tartar sauce and greens, this Baja Fish Taco Salad has some east coast leanings.
So, that’s pretty much everything you need to know about this Baja Fish Taco Salad. If you want a better idea of what’s involved in making this recipe, peep the video below. And if you like the video, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. I post a video there every week.
Baja Fish Taco Salad with Chili Tartar Sauce
- Large dutch oven
- Candy Thermometer
Chili Tartar Sauce
- 1 large dill pickle minced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ⅓ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 3 tbsp mayo
- 1½ tsp chili powder I used chipotle chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1 tsp honey
Baja Fish Taco Salad
- 2 heads romaine** coarsely chopped, washed and dried
- ½ bulb fennel shaved with a mandoline
- 3 radishes shaved with a mandoline
- 2 oranges segmented
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- 2-3 jalapeños thinly sliced
- 1 avocado sliced
- 4-6 cups neutral oil for frying
- 2 large cod fillets
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour divided
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp lime zest
- 1¼ cups cold beer I used Modello
For the Tartar Sauce
- Place all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the Fish Taco Salad
- When making this salad, it's best to prep all your veggies before preparing the fish. Place the romaine and fennel in a large bowl and set the bowl aside. Place all the remaining veggies on a plate and set them aside as well.
- Once the veggies and dressing are taken care of, you can start tackling the fish. Start by heating up the oil. Pouring the neutral oil into a large dutch oven. Place it over high heat and pop a candy thermometer in there. We’re aiming for 350°F. ***
- Pat two large cod fillets dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and set aside. In a wide, shallow vessel, whisk to combine a 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and a 1/4 cup of cornstarch. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk to combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, and lime zest. Slowly stir in the beer until incorporated with some lumps remaining.
- Roll the cod fillets in the flour, cornstarch mix before dipping them in the beer batter and dropping them in the hot oil. Fry for about 8 minutes, adjusting the temperature under the oil to keep it hovering around 350°F. Once the fish is golden, transfer the fillets to a cooling rack suspended over a baking sheet. Sprinkle immediately with salt and let cool slightly.
- Working quickly, place the romaine and fennel in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Pile the salad into four bowls and top with your desired toppings. Divide fish fillets in half and place one half on top of each salad and garnish with lime. Serve immediately.