Before moving up to Mellencampville, in Vonnegut city, in the town of Letterman, I lived in McAllen, Texas, a town in that hot little corner of the country we call the Rio Grande Valley. If you look on a weather map, it’s that southernmost tip of Texas that is always dark red or engulfed by that hurricane that just crossed the Yucatán. I have fond memories of being covered in sweat and half drunk nearly the entire time I lived there.
The food and drink of the Valley is heavily influenced by the Texas Gulf coast and Mexico; accordingly, this is where I developed an affinity for tequila and beer-battered fish tacos.
I didn’t drink any tequila tonight (still recovering from the mystery whooping cough/zombie plague/AIDS fever), but I did make beer-battered fish tacos for the first time, and for a kind of half-assed attempt, I think they turned out pretty good.
The recipe I used (and you can use any one of a jillion fish taco recipes that already exist on the internets, you don’t need one more from me because let’s face it, you don’t come here for the delicious, you come here for the f-bombs) called for a dark beer, but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice any of my 20 oz. bombers and all I had in the 12s was the remainder of a six-pack of Outlaw IPA I bought on an excursion to Two Brothers, a delightful little brewery nestled deep in an industrial park in Warrenville, IL.
I think it worked just fine, but never having battered anything in beer before in my life (except, it could be argued, myself), I couldn’t tell you with any scientific certainty whether the Outlaw was the ideal choice. I’d say you can use anything short of a cherry lambic and you’re probably good. Anyway, so I mixed up a cup of the beer with a cup of white flour, and that was my beer batter. (Looking back, I realize I could have seasoned it with like, dry mustard, garlic salt, pepper, fuck, something, but I didn’t because I am a lousy cook.)
I then remembered that I had oil heating on the stove, noticed it was smoking, pulled it off and let it cool for a couple of minutes before replacing it and tossing on the fishes. I used grapeseed oil because I think it’s lighter and it heats up well (too well, apparently), but again, your preference.
I cooked the fish (tilapia for us, but cod, whitefish, or any number of bottom feeders would also do nicely) for a couple minutes on each side, until they were nice and crispy and brown on the outside.
You’d normally make up a garlicky white sauce with either mayo or plain yogurt, and garnish with cabbage, onions and tomato, but I cheated and used some cole slaw my mother-in-law sent home with us, and I added jalapeño sauce and cilantro to spice it up.
I topped with lime, grated pepper jack cheese and a little of that garlic chipotle salsa from Trader Joes.
And there you have it, average fish tacos. Go eat some. Or don’t.