And anyway, this recipe is really alllllll about the gluten free tempura batter. When it comes to tempura made with gluten, the main object is avoiding gluten development so your batter fries up crisp, not chewy. *ahem* I think we can take care of that problem pretty easily around here. Don’t you?
I also imagine you have some pretty important ideas about how you like your Baja fish tacos: with pico de gallo or without, on corn or flour tortillas, how hot you like your sauce, which cheese is best, etcetera etcetera etcetera.
This way is the way my family and I love them, but feel free to make them your own! This 5 Ingredient Easy Lemon Dill Sauce from My Gluten Free Miami also looks like it would go great here.
But even if you really are kind of afraid of deep frying (it’s not unhealthy when done right!), promise me you’ll at least try this fish tempura at least once? The super crisp, paper thin layer of tempura that’s light and bright—never greasy!—and the super tender white fish inside is just something you need to try.
I want you to know that I wish I had taken a photo of that white paper after I moved the fried fish. Not a speck of oil. Nothing. Dry as a bone (the paper, not the fish)!
White rice flour, cornstarch and a bit of salt, mixed with an egg yolk beaten in warm water are all it really takes to make the best tempura batter. Make sure your oil is hot enough and kept at a consistent 360°F and the outside of the batter seals almost as soon as the fish hits the hot oil. The rest of the frying is just about gently cooking the fish inside without absorbing any oil.
If word gets out that gluten free tempura batter is so light and flaky and makes baja fish tacos this tender, they’ll all be knocking on our gluten free doors. Don’t worry, gluten-eaters! I’ll set a place for you.
1 chipotle chili in adobo, rinsed and seeds removed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons sugar
For the Fish Tempura
1 1/2 pounds firm white fish fillets (I used tilapia)
6 tablespoons (54 g) cornstarch, plus more for dredging
3/4 cup (120 g) superfine white rice flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 cup (8 fluid ounces) warm water
Oil, for frying
2 cups shredded red cabbage
6 ounces cotija cheese or queso fresco, crumbled
Make the tortillas. Prepare the flour tortillas according to the recipe instructions, cutting the raw tortillas into 6-inch rounds before cooking them in a hot, dry skillet. Set the tortillas, wrapped in a moist tea towel, aside while you make the fish tempura.
Make the chipotle sauce. Place all of the chipotle sauce ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Set the sauce aside.
Prepare the fish tempura. Slice the fish fillets into strips about 3-inches long and about 3/4-inch wide. Blot them dry with a paper towel, and set the fish aside. In a large bowl, place the 6 tablespoons cornstarch, the white rice flour and the salt, and whisk to combine well. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk with the warm water until well-combined. Create a well in the center of the large bowl with the cornstarch and white rice mixture, and pour in the water and egg yolk mixture in a slow and steady stream, whisking to combine constantly. The tempura batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream.
Fry the fish. In separate medium-size bowl, place enough extra cornstarch for dredging the fish strips before dipping them in the tempura batter. Next to the cornstarch, place the tempura batter. Place about 3-inches of frying oil in a medium-size, heavy-bottom pot or fryer. Clip a deep-fry/candy thermometer to the side of the pot or fryer, and place the oil over medium-high heat. Bring the oil temperature to 360°F. Dredge each piece of fish in the cornstarch to coat lightly, then dip in the tempura batter and allow much of the batter to drip off the fish. Place the fish strips, a few at a time, in the hot oil, taking care not to crowd the oil. The fish should bubble up immediately in the hot oil. Fry until the bubbling begins to subside and the fish strips are very lightly golden brown all over (about 2 to 3 minutes per side). As soon as each batch is removed from the fryer, place on a wire rack placed over paper towels to drain and cool completely.
Assemble the tacos. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of chipotle sauce in the center of each flour tortilla. Top with 2 fried fish strips, about 3 tablespoons of shredded cabbage, 2 tablespoons crumbled cheese, and another tablespoon of chipotle sauce. Serve immediately.