Years and years ago, my husband and I met for lunch at a seafood restaurant. I walked into it with the mindset of a generic lunch, maybe I’d get a sandwich and some salad. Maybe I would go a little crazy and order some soup. Clam chowder? Sure, why not.
My mind was not really on what I was going to order, but my husband’s sure was. Jeff worked nearby and was somewhat of a lunchtime regular at this place. As we sat down the first thing out of his mouth was, “You have to try their fish tacos!” Fish tacos? Keep in mind, this was the early 2000s and fish tacos, let alone crispy fried fish with a mayonnaise based sauce wrapped in a fresh corn tortilla, were not something I had been introduced to yet. I believe Jeff’s exact words that really convinced me to order them were, “these tacos are the bomb.” I know that may not sound all that convincing, but while my husband is a lover of food, it takes something truly special to be “the bomb” quality. And you know what? The man was right. They were the BOMB!
Every hesitation surrounding the idea of fish tacos was gone and a life-long love for the dish was formed. I could not stop thinking about them. I had to know how to make them and so began my hunt for a copycat recipe. What I found and tweaked to my liking became something even better and a family favorite! My best friend Chrissy was the first one to ask for the recipe to the delight of her family and now I am sharing it with you in hopes you will make it for yours.
Before we dive in, I also want to mention the Darn It George sauce (which you will fantasize about) makes more than you need. Consider this a blessing - it certainly is in my house. We use it on quesadillas, sandwiches, french fries, i.e. anything and everything. You also might be wondering why we call it “Darn It George” sauce? Here’s the long story, very short version: when Jeff and I first got married and he would annoy me I would make comments along the lines of "darn it Dick”, which didn’t bode well for our marriage. He asked me to stop calling him that and so it devolved from Dick to Richard to George (I don’t quite know why), and I’ve been saying “darn it George” whenever something is annoying or especially good ever since. And with that in mind, I give to you the delectable “darn it George” sauce, for you and your loved ones to enjoy.
Crispy Fish Tacos with Darn It George Sauce
For Darn It George Sauce:
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ¾ cup sour cream whole fat greek yogurt is a great alternative
- 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
For Crispy Fish:
- vegetable oil for frying
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 3 eggs
- 2 pounds of cod, cut into 1” pieces or any other mild white fish; snapper, halibut, mahi mahi
- salt and pepper to taste
For Proper Taco Assembly:
- corn or flour tortillas
- ½ head red cabbage, shredded use green if you have it, but red is prettier/more versatile
- cheddar cheese, grated
- fresh cilantro, chopped
-any other taco toppings you desire, ex. diced avocado, sliced scallion, crumbled queso fresco
Directions for Darn It George Sauce:
- Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.
- Refrigerate the sauce for at least 30 minutes prior to serving for the flavors to marry.
Directions for Crispy Fish:
- Pour oil into a deep saute pan or large pot, about 1-inch in depth, and heat to 375 degrees over medium-high heat. *See note on my preferred method to check oil temperature.
- While the oil heats, set up your breading station. You’ll need two shallow bowls and two cookie sheets. One sheet is for your breaded fish (pre-fry) and the other for your cooked, crispy fish (post-fry). Line both sheets with either parchment paper or foil. If you have a wire rack, place it on the post-fry sheet to prevent your fish from getting soggy.
- In one bowl crack your eggs and whisk with 2 tablespoons of water.
- In the other bowl, pour in the panko bread crumbs. Give them a little extra salt and pepper seasoning for good measure if you wish.
- If you have not already, cut your fish into 1-inch pieces. Generously season with salt and pepper. Once seasoned, begin dipping each piece of fish in the egg, followed by the panko. Make sure the fish is fully coated in bread crumbs for perfectly crispy texture in every bite.
- Set fish aside on the lined cookie sheet until you are ready to fry 'em up. You may do this up to 3 hours in advance. If prepping in advance, refrigerate breaded fish until ready to fry, then let fish sit at room temp for 15 minutes before frying.
- When the oil is hot, carefully begin placing the fish in the oil. Only a few pieces at a time though so that you do not crowd the pot! A crowded pot will reduce the temperature and will prevent perfect crispy bites! Fry approximately 3-5 minutes until the fish is golden brown.
- Place on your second foil-lined cookie sheet with a wire rack and hold in the oven at 180° until ready to serve.
- Once your fish is perfectly fried, crispy outside and tender inside, you're ready to assemble these lovely, absolutely delicious and unforgettable fish tacos!
Assembly Required...Here's the BEST part!
- Warm your tortillas of choice. I love using the raw ones you quickly sear on a hot skillet, but ready-made corn and flour tortillas are certainly convenient. Wrap them in a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying out and microwave for 30 seconds.
- Take your warmed tortilla of choice and top with a couple of pieces of perfectly crispy fish. Add a lil' shredded cabbage and a *healthy* drizzle of the Darn It George sauce. Sprinkle over a smidge of the cheddar and a pinch of freshly chopped cilantro. Tastebud party time!! Feel free to join your tastebuds and do a little “THESE ARE THE BOMB” happy dance.
Note: My preferred tool to measure the oil temperature. My hubby bought me this one years ago from Home Depot. But you can find similar ones on Amazon or online.