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Pairing Fish Tacos & Budget Bubbles

Ask my kids what they want for dinner, and the first thing they say is, Fish Tacos!!*  The asterisk is silent, but what they mean is Fish Tacos!!  But only if you make them just like Grandma does.  Once and never again, I took a couple of short cuts — I used fish sticks and didn’t fry the corn tortillas.  There was a revolt — I almost got fired.  So now we stick to Grandma’s way.

Grandma (my mother-in-law) doesn’t use a recipe.  Of course not.  Why is it all the best recipes aren’t recipes?  It’s debilitating for us recipe girls.  But . . . years ago, as part of my induction into Die Familie, my MIL showed me how to make her Fish Tacos.  And now it’s one of the very few “no recipe” recipes in my culinary arsenal. They aren’t very colorful (and/or I am a bad photographer), but they are simple and always a hit.

Here’s a recipe that’s super-similar to Grandma’s:  Baja Fish Tacos.  If I use that as a skeleton recipe and make a few changes . . . Voilà, Grandma’s Fish Tacos.

  • This recipe calls for warmed corn tortillas.  My MIL fries her corn tortillas, so I do, too.  Sure, it would be healthier not to fry the tortillas, but you’re already going down the Road to Unhealthy Food Choices by frying the fish. Embrace it . . . fry the taco shells.

I use La Banderita Corn Tortillas (in the “international” section at Wegmans).  I fry them, one at a time in about 3/4″ of hot oil.  I use my cast iron skillet – because cast iron is magic for frying things.  You don’t have to fry the heck out of them . . . . just long enough for them to become pliable and slightly brown. They will still be soft when you take them out of the oil.  (If yours are crunchy, you’ve made Tostitos, not taco shells.  Start over).  Immediately fold the tortilla in half and place a paper towel in the middle to absorb the excess oil.  See . . . I’m health conscious.

  • My MIL uses a tempura batter mix for her fish tacos.  I couldn’t find it at the store one day, so I had to substitute this batter.  DO NOT tell my kids.  They haven’t caught onto this yet.

Beer Batter:

3/4 cup beer
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

  • My MIL uses a simple, 2 ingredient white sauce for her fish tacos.  Other folks make a much fancier sauce, but I like simple.  Simple is better.  Adding a bunch of extra stuff like jalapeños and cilantro The Devil’s Weed just pollutes the sauce.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
juice of one lime
If you must be fancy, add a dash of cayenne pepper.


  • Shredded cabbage  (cabbage is the only way to go for fish tacos, but my husband and son prefer lettuce — they are wrong, but I roll with it).
  • Shredded lettuce, if that floats your boat
  • Cheddar cheese  (again, I don’t use cheese, but the boys insist)
  • Lime wedges  (these end up being decorative — I don’t know why I even cut them up)

Now . . . what to drink with my Fish Tacos?

The “classic” pairing for fish tacos is a cold beer.  But honestly . . . cold bubbles of the Champagne kind work just as well, maybe even better.  I drink a lot of Champagne. Because Champagne goes with just about anything, especially Tuesday.  I’m always on the lookout for good, budget bubbles.  Tonight, I’m pairing my Fish Tacos with Korbel Blanc de Noirs California Champagne.  (You know it annoys the crap out of the French that Korbel puts the word Champagne on their label.  Quelle horreur!) Anyway . . . I’ve always shunned Korbel at the wine store, lumping it in with the other bottom-shelf dwellers.  But recently, Korbel Blanc de Noirs turned up in The Drunken Cyclist’s fun post about the Top Five American Sparklers under $20.  I had tasted and agreed completely with the other 4 sparklers on the DC’s list.  Perhaps I was too quick to shun the Korbel?  So I decided to give it a try . . .

Wine Notes:  Korbel, I misjudged you.  Mea culpa.  A pale salmon color in the glass.  Pink without being too pink.  Too pink is when my husband looks at the glass says, “I’m not drinking this”.  Dry and refreshing with a surprising backbone of acidity.  For the bank-breaking $12 I spent on it . . . it’s pretty darn good!  I will absolutely put this into everyday sparkler rotation.

Pairing Notes:  Is there a fried food that doesn’t pair with Bubbles?  I love this pairing.  I’m gonna crave this pairing.  The Blanc de Noirs works well with all the components of the Fish Tacos — the batter, the fish, the cabbage (I know, right?) and the lime-mayo sauce.  Bubbles are magical.  YUM!


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