Ritz Cracker Fish Tacos
In California, fish tacos are a big thing. The interesting thing about them is that there are so many kinds of fish tacos out there. There is the traditional Mexican fish taco. There is the Baja, California fish taco. Hawaii's got one. And my personal favorite, Wahoo's Fish Tacos, which is a restaurant that combines Mexican, Brazilian and Asian flavors all into one. Whatever you do with it, the main ingredient is that you gotta have good fish. And you can let your imagination wonder. It doesn't matter where you live. You don't have to live by the ocean to enjoy fish tacos. It's one of those dishes that can be recreated in any setting, allowing for the use of fresh, local ingredients. Go ahead, make your own Texas fish taco. Or an Arizona fish taco. A Montana fish taco! We're not sure what our version of it really is. The fish came from Nebraska, and so did the recipe to fry it. But the salsa is purely Mexican. Whatever it is, it was GOOD! Again, a special thank you to Rick's Nebraskan cousins Jo Ann and Keith for sharing their bread crumb recipe with us.
Prep time: 1.5 - 2 hours
Cook time: 5 - 7 minutes
- 8 fish filets (any white fleshed fish like crappie or white bass), skin removed
- 1/2 stack of Ritz Crackers, about 15 crackers
- equal amounts of Japanese Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1 3/4 tbs. blackened seasoning, or to taste
- salt, to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
Tomatillo Salsa Verde:
- 4 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 1 jalapeno pepper, stem removed
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 6 sprigs of fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off), roughly chopped
- 1/4 small onion (yellow or white), finely chopped
- 1/4 cup water
- sea/Kosher salt, to taste
- corn tortillas (large or small)
- red salsa (bought or homemade)
- 2 ripe avocados, sliced
- lime wedges
- cabbage (red or green), thinly sliced
I. The Feesh
1. Soak fish filets in buttermilk. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
2. In a zip-lock bag, crush the Ritz Crackers with a rolling pin, into a fine powder.
3. Pour an equal amount of Japanese "Panko" Bread Crumbs to the zip lock bag, so you get a mixture that is 50% Ritz Cracker and 50% "Panko."
It doesn't matter which brand. "Panko" is sold almost every where now.
4. Add blackened seasoning to the zip-lock bag. Shake well to mix all ingredients together.
This recipe is great because you can make the breadcrumb mixture in bulk to always have it on hand. Just store in the same zip-lock bag.
5. Take fish filets out of the buttermilk and give them a quick rinse. Discard the buttermilk. Pat fish dry with paper towels. Lightly salt filets.
Prepare dredging station: Pour the breadcrumb mixture onto a shallow dish, beat one egg in a bowl.
Dip fish filets in egg mixture, then coat well with the breadcrumb mixture.
Resist licking your fingers.
6. On a dish, lay coated filets on a single layer. Place in the freezer for ten minutes. This will help the crumbs stick to the fish better.
TIP: Since we were making fish tacos, we chose to keep the filets large. For crispier fish, you can cut the fish into smaller chunks and bread them that way. That's what Keith and Jo Ann did.
7. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large pan. Fry fish for 3-4 minutes each side, or until it turns golden brown. Flip over and fry the other side.
Do not over crowd the pan. Cook in batches. Drain on a paper towel. Serve immediately.
Tip: Use a spatula. Large filets can easily fall apart.
II. The Salsa Verde
Tomatillos look like this. They're like little green tomatoes encased in a tissue-like husk. Just rip them off and rinse.
Buy them at your local Mexican market.
1. Place tomatillos, jalapeno and garlic in a rimmed baking pan. Roast them below a hot broiler until the tomatillos turn blotchy black.
Watch the garlic and jalapeno. They will brown faster than the tomatillos.
Let the ingredients cool.
2. In a blender, combine tomatillos (along with all its juices), garlic, jalapeno, cilantro and 1/4 cup of water. Blend until smooth.
Scoop into a serving dish. Mix in chopped onion and salt, to taste.
Microwave tortillas in a cloth hand towel for one minute to soften.
Garnish fish tacos with cabbage, salsa verde, avocado slices and any other sauces you like. Serve with lime wedges on the side.