The theme of our last tailgating Test Kitchen — for me, at least — was to hybridize 2 or 3 of my favorite football and party-friendly foods into one successful dish or bite. The theme for everyone else was “when are the potato skins going to be ready, Jess?” I also encountered “what’s that burning smell?” (It was wing glaze scorching, thanks.)
With Baja fish tacos on the mind, I thought I’d make mini fried fish empanadas using folded-over tortillas. But the thought of folding and frying 20 fried fish empanadas in non-self-adhesive dough and finding five or six photogenic ones made me sad, so I decided to throw the whole concept on top of nachos. Problem solved. Shortly after this photo was taken, the team descended upon this plate like sharks. That’s the only measure of success we use in Test Kitchen.
Pro tip: wait til the fried fish cools down to room temperature before adding it to the nachos — all that heat escaping will steam the chips and make them soggy.
For the fried fish
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne powder
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 bottle Mexican beer of your choice
- canola oil, for frying
- 1 pound white fish fillets, like tilapia, flounder or haddock
For the nachos
- 1/2 large bag tortilla chips
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 6 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup green cabbage, shredded
- Mexican hot sauce like Cholula or Tapatio, to taste
- chopped cilantro and lime wedges, to garnish
- Heat 2 inches of canola oil in a medium saucepan to 350F.
- Whisk together the flour and cayenne with a little salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the beer slowly to prevent it from foaming over while lightly whisking until a batter forms.
- Dip the fish in the batter, allowing any excess to drip back into the bowl, then carefully drop into the oil and fry for 4-5 minutes or until cooked through and deep golden-brown.
- Remove fish using a spatula (tongs will make the fried coating fall off), drain on a thick layer of paper towels and cool to room temperature.
- While the fish is cooling, arrange the tortilla chips on a serving plate and top with shredded cabbage.
- Break up fish into 1 1/2-inch chunks and distribute over the top of the chips.
- Transfer sour cream to a small plastic zip-top bag, snip off one of the tips and drizzle over the top, then add hot sauce and sprinkle the cotija cheese and cilantro on top.
- Serve garnished with lime wedges.