These crispy beer-battered fish tacos are a traditional Mexican meets Asian fusion done right. Perfectly deep-fried fish is served on a warm taco with an irresistible kimchi slaw and sliced avocado. It is the most requested recipe from my friends and family. Whenever there is a get-together, they always request that I make this because it’s just so good!
The deep-fried fish stays incredibly crispy after it fries, even as it sits – which is a game changer! The key to a light and crispy fry is a very cold batter, and to achieve this, I recommend placing the bowl in the fridge before mixing the batter together (more on this later!).
For this recipe, I topped the fish tacos with a kimchi slaw that I’ve been perfecting for a while now. I wanted to pay homage to my Korean roots, and I’m really proud of how it turned out! 🙂
Why you’ll love this recipe
If you’re looking to level up your taco game, this recipe is for you! The combination of the crispy beer-battered fish is complemented by the spicy and tangy kimchi slaw, followed by the buttery creamy avocado and freshness of the cilantro to balance it all out. The variety of textures of this taco is what makes it so special. From the crispy fish to the crunchy slaw to the soft avocados
Like most tacos, the toppings are customizable and this recipe is no exception. For example, if avocados and cilantro aren’t really your thing, swap them out for what you like! I personally think the kimchi slaw completes the taco so don’t skip it! It’s light, refreshing, and tangy – the perfect complement to the crispy beer-battered fish.
As I mentioned earlier in the post, I make this fairly often when entertaining my friends and family so this recipe is great for hosting a get-together. The kimchi slaw can be made a day in advance to minimize prep work on the day of. Plus, the fish stays very crispy even after resting for some time. Not only are these tacos delicious, they’ll be the conversation of the night!
Crispy Beer Battered Fish Tacos Ingredients & Substitutions
Halibut filet: the halibut filet is a key ingredient for this taco recipe so you want to make sure that you get the freshest fish you can find. You can also substitute the halibut for other white fish including cod, haddock, basa, and swordfish.
Avocado: avocado adds a soft and creamy texture to the dish, but you can also leave it out or swap it for sour cream or Mexican crema.
Cilantro: cilantro adds a freshness to round out the flavors, but you can also leave it out if you think it tastes like soap.
Vegetable oil: vegetable oil is good for frying, but you can also use other neutral-tasting oil, including peanut, canola, corn, sunflower seed, avocado, rapeseed, or grapeseed oil.
Corn or flour tortillas: the tortillas are the vessel that holds all the delicious components together. For a healthier alternative, you can substitute the tortillas with lettuce for a lettuce wrap/taco situation.
Rice flour: I like to use rice flour for the dredge and beer batter because it makes the fish crispier. It’s generally lighter than all-purpose flour which results in a light and crispier fry. Rice flour can be substituted with cornstarch or potato starch.
Salt: the salt is used to season the dredge, beer batter, and slaw. Taste and adjust as you go!
Paprika: a dash of paprika adds a touch of spice and smokiness to the fish filets, but you can also use gochugaru, chili powder, or cayenne pepper.
All-purpose flour: all-purpose flour is essential for the beer batter as it helps develop the exterior crust of the fish.
Baking powder: baking powder will help the batter slightly rise so the fish filets come out extra crispy. To substitute baking powder, you can also use ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon vinegar for every teaspoon of baking powder.
Lager beer: the beer is used to create a light and crispy batter. Ideally, you want to use a light beer like a lager for this. Don’t use the expensive artisan beers – grab the cheapest lager you can find because it won’t make a difference! If you don’t drink, you can substitute beer with sparkling water.
Cabbage: a slaw isn’t complete without shredded cabbage. Feel free to use purple or green cabbage – I like to use both!
Red onion: red onions add a mild spice and sweetness to the slaw, but you can also use yellow onions or shallots.
Scallions: scallions add a mild peppery and onion flavor to the slaw.
Jalapeno: jalapenos will level up the spiciness of the slaw, but feel free to replace it with your preferred pepper, including serrano, habanero, or Thai chili pepper. You can also skip this if you prefer a milder slaw.
Kimchi: kimchi is the secret ingredient to making the slaw extra delicious. It adds a sour and spicy twist to the slaw which is delicious with the beer battered fish. If you’re looking for easy and delicious kimchi recipes, check out my Cabbage Kimchi or Geotjeori Kimchi!
Gochugaru: to up the ante of the spiciness of the slaw, gochugaru is added. But you can also use red chili flakes, cayenne, or paprika powder. Alternatively, you can adjust the amount of gochugaru added based on your spice level tolerance.
Sugar: the sugar will balance out the tangy and savory flavors of the slaw.
Fish sauce: fish sauce adds a distinct umami flavor to the kimchi slaw. But you can also use soy sauce to taste.
Rice vinegar: the acidity of the rice vinegar rounds out the flavors of the slaw. You can also use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
Sesame oil: sesame oil adds a rich nutty flavor to the slaw. A little goes a long way!
Limes: finishing off with lime juice will elevate the overall flavors of the kimchi slaw.
How do I prepare Crispy Beer Battered Fish Tacos?
Step 1: Salt the cabbage
Toss the shredded cabbage with salt in a bowl, then set aside for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, squeeze the excess water from the cabbage and transfer it to a new bowl.
Step 2: Make the kimchi slaw
To the cabbage, add red onion, scallions, jalapeno, cilantro, kimchi, gochugaru, sugar, fish sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and lime juice. Combine everything well and set aside in the refrigerator until it’s ready to be used. The kimchi slaw can be made 2 days in advance. Just make sure to keep it chilled in the fridge.
Step 3: Prepare the dry batter
For the dry batter, combine rice flour, salt, and paprika on a plate. Make sure to mix well until combined.
Step 4: Prepare the beer batter
For the beer batter, start by chilling the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes. Then, combine all-purpose flour, rice flour, baking powder, salt, and beer in the chilled bowl. Mix them together until the batter’s consistency resembles the consistency of a pancake batter.
Step 5: Warm the tacos
Before frying the fish, stack the tortillas together then wrap them in aluminum foil. Toss them in a preheated 300F (150C) oven. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Step 6: Heat the oil
Fill a deep pot with neutral oil about halfway up. Heat the oil to 375°F or 190°C.
Step 7: Batter the fish and fry
Dredge the fish in the dry batter, then into the beer batter. Let the excess batter drain, then carefully place it into the hot oil. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.
Step 8: Drain and salt the fish
Transfer the fried fish to a baking sheet lined with paper towels or a wire rack and season with a sprinkle of flakey salt. Repeat for the remaining batch of fish.
Step 9: Assemble the taco and serve!
To assemble the taco, take one warmed corn tortilla and stack it with a piece of fried fish, kimchi slaw, avocado, cilantro, or your favorite toppings. Serve and enjoy!
Cooking Tips for Crispy Beer Battered Fish Tacos
- While I used halibut for this recipe, you can also use any other type of white fish including cod, basa, swordfish, and haddock.
- When preparing the beer batter, make sure everything is as cold as possible including the mixing bowl and beer. This will help make the batter light and give the fish an extra crispy coating.
- Before dredging the fish, be sure to pat them thoroughly dry. Doing so will ensure that the batter adheres to the fish.
- Fry the fish in batches to prevent overcrowding the pan and lowering the oil temperature. If the temperature drops too low, the fried fish will turn out soggy and greasy.
- Adding salt to the shredded cabbages draws out their moisture, making them crunchier when you turn them into kimchi slaw.
- Be sure to adjust the seasoning and spiciness of the kimchi slaw according to your preferences.
- The kimchi slaw can be made 2 days in advance. It’ll actually taste better because the flavors of the slaw would have the chance to develop.
- Keep the tortillas wrapped in foil so they stay warm for longer. I like to do this even while serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of beer should I use for the batter?
I recommend using a light beer like a lager for this recipe. Be sure to use a cheap lager instead of the expensive artisan beers because it won’t make a big difference! I don’t recommend using strong hoppy beers because they can overpower the delicate flavors of the fish.
What is the best way to heat up a tortilla?
The best way to warm up tortillas is in the oven. Stack the tortillas on top of each other then wrap them in aluminum foil. Toss it in a preheated 300F (150C) oven for at least 10 minutes or until ready to serve. Keep the tortillas wrapped in the tortilla so it stays warm.
What other toppings can I add to the tacos?
The options are endless – just be sure to use what you like! Some ideas include radish, white onion, jalapenos, tomatoes, and even Asian Pickled Red Onions!
Can I make the kimchi slaw in advance?
Yes, absolutely! You can make it up to 2 days in advance and keep it stored in the fridge. It’ll actually taste even better because the flavors of the slaw would have the chance to develop.
Can you store the kimchi slaw?
Yes, you can store the kimchi slaw in the fridge. Just make sure to keep it in an airtight container and it’ll stay fresh for up to 4 days. If you like, you can also make a big batch to enjoy with your meals for the rest of the week! The kimchi slaw can be made in advance so there’s less prep work!
Looking for more easy & delicious seafood recipes? Check these out!
1. Soft Shell Crab Bao – this soft shell crab bao is what dreams are made of! The soft shell crab is coated in a light tempura batter and served in a hot steamy bao with a delicious chili mayo sauce.
2. Salt and Pepper Shrimp – salt and pepper shrimp is a classic Cantonese dish made of juicy succulent shrimp on the inside, and a light and crunchy outer shell. The shrimp coated in a light batter and then deep-fried, resulting in an airy and crunchy bite.
3. Korean Oyster Pancake – these savory pancakes are packed with oysters and served with a delicious spicy dipping sauce. Perfect as an appetizer or light meal to enjoy with a side of soju!
4. Miso Marinated Cod – this recipe is inspired by Nobu’s miso black cod recipe however it’s made with more accessible cod. This can be prepared in advance for a quick, delicious, and healthy meal any day of the week!
5. Marinated Salmon Sashimi – this marinated salmon sashimi is a refreshing and delicious dish made with raw salmon that has been cured in a rich and savory soy marinade. Made in advance and perfect with a bowl of rice!
Crispy Beer Battered Fish Tacos with Kimchi Slaw
- 2 6 oz halibut fillet sliced into 2 strips each, substitute with cod, haddock, basa, and swordfish.
- 1/2 avocado sliced for garnish
- cilantro for garnish
- vegetable oil for frying
- 4 corn or flour tortillas warmed
- 1/4 cup rice flour more if needed
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp rice flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup lager beer more if needed
- 8 oz shredded cabbage
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup kimchi chopped
- 1 tbsp gochugaru Korean red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 limes juiced
- Toss the shredded cabbage with salt in a bowl, then set aside for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, squeeze the excess water from the cabbage and transfer to a new bowl.
- To the cabbage, add red onion, scallions, jalapeno, cilantro, kimchi, gochugaru, sugar, fish sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and lime juice. Combine everything well and set aside in the refrigerator until it's ready to be used. The slaw can be made a day in advanced!
- For the dry batter, combine rice flour, salt, and paprika in a plate. Mix until well combined.
- For the beer batter, start by chilling the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes. Combine all-purpose flour, rice flour, baking powder, salt, and beer. Mix together until it has a consistency like pancake mix.
- Before frying the fish, stack the tortillas together then wrap them in aluminum foil. Toss them in a preheated 300F (150C) oven. Keep warm until ready to serve.
- Fill a deep pan or pot with neutral oil about half way up. Heat the oil to 375F or 190C.
- Dredge the fish in the dry batter, then into the beer batter. Let the excess batter drain then carefully place into the oil. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until it turns golden brown.
- Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels or wire rack. Season with a sprinkle of flakey salt. Repeat for the remaining batch of fish.
- To assemble the taco, take one warmed corn tortilla and stack it with a piece of fried halibut, kimchi slaw, avocado, cilantro or your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
- Feel free to use any type of white fish you prefer including cod, swordfish, haddock and basa.
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