I am torn as to the theme of this post. Using things up or stuff I always have on hand. Let’s vote. Who wants using things up? Anyone? Anyone? Well, alrighty then. It’s stuff I always have on hand.
I am very proud to say that of the 14 ingredients in this recipe I only had to buy three – tilapia filets (it’s never wise to always have fish on hand), cilantro and a lime. Everything else was already happily residing in my fridge or pantry. I always keep mayonnaise on hand, but that’s not unusual in the South. We use mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s, on everything. I hope I don’t get diabetes like poor old Paula Deen. I always have sour cream on hand because it’s a key ingredient in my mashed potatoes, which I make about every third day because who doesn’t like mashed potatoes? Cabbage – from the farmer’s market and it keeps for like two years in the fridge. Mexican melting cheese. A must have for quick quesadillas. Buttermilk. Buttermilk? Who keeps buttermilk on hand? Well, do you fry? Do you? Raise your hand. If you fry, you must dredge and if you dredge you must have a liquid vehicle for the flour/cornmeal to adhere to. Thank you. Have buttermilk on hand. Don’t drink it, of course. It’s nasty.
And cornmeal. Not cornmeal flour. Actual cornmeal. I keep mine in the freezer. It’s an old habit born of living in Florida where critters can invade your cornmeal and flour. There’s nothing more disgusting, except for cockroaches.
So I am pretty proud of this recipe. My original intent was to make tradition fish tacos with a beer batter. But then I decided to bread the fish with cornmeal. Good call. And if you are of the (old) school that fish and cheese don’t go together, you are just slap wrong. Just consider lobster mac and cheese. Or a McDonald’s filet o’ fish sandwich. I rest my case. And if you didn’t know that some serious foodies have a thing about fish and cheese then I’m sorry I brought it up.
Southern Fried Fish Tacos
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
4 tilapia filets
1 cup buttermilk
8 small tortillas
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups shredded Mexican melting cheese (or any type you like)
Combine the first six ingredients in a small bowl and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Heat about a half inch of peanut oil to 350 degrees or until it bubbles immediately when you put the handle of a wooden spoon in the pan.
Cut the tilapia filets lengthwise to separate the thick and thin portions. Then cut each piece in half widthwise. Place the buttermilk in one bowl and the cornmeal in another. Soak the filets in buttermilk and then dredge in the cornmeal.
Fry the tilapia until golden brown on both sides. Drain on a wire rack and immediately sprinkle with salt. Heat the tortillas wrapped in paper towels in the microwave for about 20 seconds.
Top the tortillas with the fish, cabbage, cheese and sauce.