How to Make Papatzul’s Baja-Style Fish Tacos

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Photo: Melissa Hom

Welcome to How Do You Make That?: You tell Grub Street about a restaurant dish youre dying to make at home, and we fetch the recipe from its creator. Heres a summer-appropriate request: Papatzul's fish tacos! They are the best! A plea as simple as it is moving. Heres the recipe below, care of chef-owner Thierry Amezcua.

Papatzul Tacos Baja
We use tilapia fillets, cut in four long pieces on the bias; one pound will make ten to twelve taquitos.

BATTER
We use a beer batter made with Negra Modelo.
About 1 cup of Negra Modelo (drink the rest while you're preparing hehehe) mixed with 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour and ½ cup of water, salt, and pepper. The Batter must have the consistency of thick pancake batter, so adjust the flour accordingly and add enough salt that you are able to taste it.

CHIPOTLE CITRUS MAYO
1 ½ cup homemade mayonnaise
Juice of 1 orange and 2 limes
½ tablespoon orange zest
1 ½ teaspoon lime zest
1 chipotle en adobo pepper or 2 if you like it very spicy (a small can of Chipotle en Adobo La Morena, available in Whole Foods or most bodegas)
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth
Season with salt and pepper

SLAW
½ Savoy cabbage sliced thinly in a mandolin
2 tomatoes small diced
½ red onion small diced
Juice of 2 limes
¼ cup olive oil

Heat enough vegetable oil in heavy medium-size stock pot; in the meantime, season the tilapia with salt and pepper, and coat with some all-purpose flour before adding them to the batter.

Once they are nicely battered, deep-fry the fillets until golden crispy (about eight to ten minutes). Combine all the ingredients for the slaw in a bowl; mix with the lime juice and the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Do this at the last minute so the cabbage remains crunchy.

Warm your tortillas on a comal or a cast-iron pan, but keep them nice and soft. You can cut the fried fillets a little and start making your tacos by adding the fish on a tortilla with some of the mayo, and then top with the slaw and a little more mayo. For a perfect meal, enjoy your tacos with a Pacifico!