Crispy beer-battered rockfish topped with tangy cilantro lime slaw, juicy pineapple, and crisp radishes tucked in a warm corn tortilla and topped with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. It can't get much better than that. Give these delicious tacos a try today!
Why You'll Love This Recipe:
Crispy, Flaky Fish: This beer-battered fish is the perfect coating for rockfish. The outside gets crispy and golden brown while the fish inside stays moist, flaky, and tender.
Full of Flavor: The beer batter gets a flavor boost from chili powder and cumin. The cabbage slaw is packed with zesty lime flavor and adds layers of flavor to these tacos. Juicy, sweet pineapple and crunchy radishes balance out all the flavors for the best fish tacos!
Customizable: The toppings are just a suggestion here. You can do as little or as much as you'd like! I like to use this cilantro lime slaw for multiple taco recipes because it packs a lot of flavor into your tacos without overloading them with toppings. You can also use this recipe with any white-fleshed fish you have access to.
- Rockfish: This recipe uses black rockfish filets but you can use any species of rockfish. You can also use other flaky white fish like halibut, cod, mahi mahi, black cod, etc.
- Green Cabbage: You can use savoy cabbage or red cabbage in place of green cabbage.
- Corn Tortillas: You can use flour tortillas or hard taco shells in place of corn tortillas.
- Peanut Oil: Peanut oil works great for frying, but you can use other oils like safflower oil, corn oil, canola oil, etc.
- Beer: A light beer like a lager works well for beer-battered fish because it adds a light beer flavor without weighing it down. Any light, non-hoppy beer will work.
- Spices: You can add or remove spices from the batter to your liking. Cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder are all great additions to the simple chili powder and cumin blend used in this beer batter.
- Toppings: You don't have to use the suggested toppings. You can customize your tacos how you'd like! Mango salsa, avocado slices, fresh pico de gallo, pickled red onion, and pickled jalapenos are all excellent choices!
- Mandolin Slicer: A mandolin slicer works great for getting thin slices of cabbage and radishes. But, you can use a sharp knife if you don't have a mandolin available.
- Deep Pan: A deep pan is necessary for frying to keep the oil from bubbling over the edge. Select a pan that is at least 3-4" deep since you will be using 1" of oil.
- High-Temperature Thermometer: A high-temperature thermometer or candy thermometer is necessary to make sure your oil is at the proper temperature. If it's too cold, the breading will become soggy. If the oil is too hot, the filets will burn.
- Filet Knife: You can cut fish filets with several types of knives, but a filet knife works best due to its unique shape.
What is Rockfish?
Rockfish is a large family of fish with over 100 different species. Species of rockfish can be found widespread but many rockfish live along the West Coast of North America, from Alaska to Mexico. Rockfish go by many different names: rock cod, pacific snapper, pacific rockfish, and sea bass are some of the common names used for rockfish.
Rockfish are categorized into 2 categories: pelagic and nonpelagic. Pelagic species like black rockfish are more common and live in schools close to rocky reefs and other underwater structures. Nonpelagic rockfish like yelloweye, quillback, and tiger rockfish are less common and live near the ocean floor in rocky habitats.
Rockfish filets have a mild flavor with a flaky texture. It pairs well with many different flavor combinations and makes a really good fish taco. It can be grilled, pan-fried, baked, fried, and cooked with a variety of ingredients.
Author holding a tiger rockfish near Homer, AK. The fish in the background are black rockfish.
Step by Step Instructions:
How To Make Cilantro Lime Slaw:
This cilantro lime slaw makes the best taco topping! One of my favorite things about it is that it combines several taco toppings into one so you don't overload your taco. The combination of crunchy cabbage with zesty lime, earthy cilantro, and a creamy sauce complements the rich fried fish so well.
Gather dressing ingredients: lime zest, lime juice, garlic, salt, pepper, sour cream, and mayo.
Add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Remove the core from the cabbage.
Slice thinly using a mandolin slicer or sharp knife.
Add shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro, and chopped green onions to a large bowl.
Pour the slaw dressing over the cabbage.
Toss the ingredients to combine.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Pro Tip: Use gloved hands to coat the cabbage with the dressing. It's a very effective and clean method to mix coleslaw!
How To Make Beer-Battered Rockfish:
You only need a few ingredients to make the crispiest beer-battered fish for tacos. Follow the simple steps below!
Use a sharp filet knife to remove the skin from the rockfish filets.
Remove bones with tweezers, if needed.
Cut fish filets into ¾" strips.
Place the strips into a paper towel-lined bowl. Season fish with salt 30 minutes before cooking.
Add flour, chili powder, cumin, salt, and baking powder to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.
Whisk in cold beer. The batter should be the consistency of a thin pancake batter.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a deep skillet until the oil reaches 375 degrees F. Gently pat fish pieces dry with a paper towel and dip them into the beer batter. Let the excess batter drip off.
Gently lower the battered fish into the hot oil in a single layer.
Cook until crispy and golden-brown, about 4-5 minutes, flipping halfway.
Place on a wire rack on a sheet pan to let the excess oil drip off. The wire rack also keeps them from getting soggy.
Pro Tip: The beer batter will puff up quite a bit when it fries, so err on the side of thinner pieces of fish otherwise your pieces might not fit into your tacos!
More Taco Recipes:
Putting it All Together:
Once you have your cilantro lime slaw and crispy, flaky rockfish, it's time to assemble your tacos! I like to fry up my corn tortillas in a little oil, but you can just warm them in a hot skillet as well. Add a piece of fish to your tortilla. Top it with the cilantro lime slaw. You can add other toppings like pineapple and radishes, or just keep it simple with the slaw. Don't forget to serve lime wedges on the side! Enjoy!
White flaky fish makes the best fish tacos. Rockfish, halibut, cod, mahi mahi, and black cod are all great choices. These fish all have a mild flavor and go well with many traditional taco toppings.
Rockfish can be eaten like any other white-fleshed fish. It can be grilled, pan-fried, baked, fried, you name it! It makes an excellent base for this beer-battered rockfish tacos recipe.
Rockfish are typically mild-tasting fish. The meat can be on the sweeter side and has a meaty but flaky texture. It complements many flavors well and can be prepared in a variety of ways!
Other Recipes You'll Love:
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Beer-Battered Rockfish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw
- 1 ½ lb rockfish filets
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoon cold lager beer (or other light-colored beer)
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- salt, to taste
- peanut oil
Cilantro Lime Slaw:
- 6 cups shredded green cabbage
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped (about 1 bunch)
- ½ cup green onions, finely chopped (6-8 medium green onions)
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup fresh lime juice (from 2-3 limes)
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
- ½ teaspoon garlic, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 24 corn tortillas
- 1 ½ cup fresh pineapple, ¼" diced (optional)
- ½ cup radishes, thinly sliced (optional)
- lime wedges, for serving
Cilantro Lime Slaw:
- Combine cabbage, cilantro, and green onions in a medium bowl. Combine dressing ingredients (sour cream through salt and pepper) in a medium bowl. Toss with cabbage mixture until well-coated. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
- Remove skin and bones from rockfish filets, if needed.
- Cut fish into ¾" strips. Place the strips into a paper towel-lined bowl. Season fish with salt 30 minutes before cooking.
- Combine flour, seafood seasoning, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Slowly add beer to the batter and stir with a whisk. The batter should be the consistency of a thin pancake batter. It needs to be thin enough to coat the fish well but not so thin that it doesn't stick.
- Add enough peanut oil to a deep skillet to make it about 1" deep. Heat over medium-high heat to 350-375°F.
- Lightly pat fish pieces with paper towel if moisture has accumulated on the surface.
- Dip fish pieces in batter and let excess drip off. Add to pan of oil and cook for 4-5 minutes, flipping halfway, until internal temperature reaches 145°F and breading is golden brown and crispy.
- If cooking larger batches, preheat oven to 200°F. Place a wire rack on a sheet pan. Once one batch of fish is finished cooking, place it on the wire rack in the oven to keep it warm.
- You can warm your tortillas in a hot skillet or dip them in the hot oil leftover from cooking the fish for 30 seconds.
- Add 1 or 2 pieces of fish to your tortilla (depending on the size of the pieces), top with cilantro lime slaw, diced pineapple, and sliced radishes (or toppings of your choice) and squeeze a fresh lime wedge over the top. Enjoy!
- This beer-battered fish reheats really well in the oven.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Place a wire rack on a sheet pan. Place halibut pieces on wire rack. Bake for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway, or until breading is crispy and fish is heated through.
- A deep pan is necessary for frying to keep the oil from bubbling over the edge. Select a pan that is at least 3-4" deep since you will be using 1" of oil.
- This recipe uses black rockfish filets but you can use any species of rockfish. You can also use other flaky white fish like halibut, cod, mahi mahi, black cod, etc.
- You can use savoy cabbage or red cabbage in place of green cabbage. A mandolin slicer is helpful for shredding the cabbage but you can also use a sharp knife or food processor.
- You can use flour tortillas or hard taco shells in place of corn tortillas.
- Peanut oil works great for frying, but you can use other oils like safflower oil, corn oil, canola oil, etc.
- A light beer like a lager works well for beer-battered fish because it adds a light beer flavor without weighing it down. Any light, non-hoppy beer will work.
- You can add or remove spices from the batter to your liking. Cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder are all great additions to the simple chili powder and cumin blend used in this beer batter.
- You can customize your taco toppings how you'd like. Mango salsa, avocado slices, fresh pico de gallo, pickled red onion, and pickled jalapenos are all excellent choices.