Rick Martinez’s new cookbook, “Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico” (Clarkson Potter, $35), contains 100 recipes from seven different regions of Mexico. This recipe for Tacos Capeados showcases Baja-stye fish tacos, but with a slightly different batter than we usually see in the States — and two fantastic topping options.
“For crispy fried fish, I use a batter mix with a 50/50 mix of wheat flour to cornmeal or masa harina,” Martinez says in the book. “The corn adds extra flavor, but also creates a crispier crust that retains its crunch even when cooled to room temperature.”
Don’t season the batter too much and let it “infuse more than its fair share of flavor boost,” he says. “The true craftsmanship of making tacos is in the layering of flavor and texture. Each element contributes to a different feeling in your mouth: hot, cold, soft, crunchy, sweet, savory, and spicy.”
RICK MARTINEZ’S TACOS CAPEADOS
Serves 4 to 6
1½ pounds skinless halibut, cod, or other white fish fillets, cut crosswise into 16 strips
Morton kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup masa harina or fine or medium ground cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
12 ounces of Mexican-style pale lager
½ cup sparkling mineral water, club soda, or water
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Vegetable oil, for frying (about 3 liters)
Warm Corn Tortillas
Salsa de Papaya y Tomatillo Cruda (see below)
Salsa Blanca (see below)
Shredded red cabbage
Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer to a wire rack in a baking pan. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 1 hour or up to overnight (this will allow the surface to air dry so that the batter adheres better to the fish).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, masa harina, baking soda, baking soda, and 1¼ teaspoons salt. Add the beer, sparkling water and vinegar and whisk until everything is mixed and there are no more lumps.
Pour 3 inches of oil into a large, heavy saucepan and clamp on a deep-fry thermometer. Heat over medium heat until thermometer registers 375 degrees. Line a baking tray with kitchen paper.
Dip the fish in batches in the batter, allowing excess batter to drip back into the bowl. Carefully lower the fish into the oil and fry the fish with tongs occasionally, until lightly golden and just cooked, for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the fish to the paper towels to drain.
Serve the pescado capeado with tortillas, both salsas, lime wedges and cabbage.
SALSA DE PAPAYA AND TOMATILLO CRUDA
Makes 2 cups
3 medium tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ firm ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into inch pieces
¼ medium white onion, coarsely chopped
3 chili serranos, stemless and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely grated
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice (3 to 4 limes)
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
Morton kosher salt
In a medium bowl, combine the tomatillos, papaya, onion, chili serranos, garlic, lime juice, and mint to combine. Season with salt. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to let the flavors meld. Serve chilled or at room temperature. (Note: The salsa cruda can be made up to 1 day in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
Makes 1 1/3 cups
1 oil-packed anchovy fillet
¼ teaspoon Morton kosher salt, plus more to taste
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup crema, crème fraichche or sour cream
¼ cup finely chopped coriander
2 chili serranos, stemless and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Place the anchovies on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt. Beat it to a paste with the flat side of a knife. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl.
Add the mayonnaise, crema, coriander, chiles serranos, garlic, lime zest and lime juice and whisk together. Season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (The salsa can be made up to 1 day in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
— Reprinted with permission from “Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico” by Rick Martínez, copyright © 2022. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.