The best largemouth bass fishing I’ve ever encountered was at Lake Huites, a vast impoundment on the outskirts of the Sierra Madre Occidentals in Sinaloa, Mexico. In one tiny pueblo, we arrived in the midst of a festival: young men with guitars playing on the corners, the local Mayo Indians performing their deer dance, a thousand bats fluttering above the trees of the plaza, and street-food vendors everywhere, some serving fish tacos made with tilapia and bass netted from local reservoirs. Here is a recipe for my best imitation of those tacos. It works with any firm, lean fish.
Largemouth Bass Tacos
– 6 largemouth bass fillets, skin and lateral line removed, cut into 3×1-inch strips
– 1 large egg, separated into yolk and white
– 1 cup flour
– 1 tsp. salt
– 1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
– 1 cup beer or water
– 1 cup crema mexicana*
– 2 tsp. chipotles in adobo, chopped*
– 4 cups plus 1 Tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
– 6 oz. fresh chorizo sausage
– 12 corn tortillas
– 2 limes
– 2 cups green or red cabbage, shredded fine
– Kosher salt, to taste
*Crema mexicana and chipotles in adobo are available at most Latino markets. Many grocery stores stock crema media, a slightly sweeter variation. (If using this, add a teaspoon of salt to offset the sweetness.)
1. Mix the egg yolk, flour, salt, pepper, and beer or water together until you have a pancake-like batter. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 24 hours.
2. Make the chipotle crema: Combine the crema mexicana with the chipotles–adobo sauce and all–in a food processor until smooth and pinkish.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Slice the chorizo lengthwise, peel off the thin casing, and chop. Cook the chorizo, using a wooden spoon to break the meat into pinto bean-size pieces, until very crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
4. In a large pot or deep fryer, heat the oil to 350 degrees. While it’s heating, whisk the reserved egg white until stiff and fold it into the batter. When the oil is not quite fully heated, wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and place in the oven, preheated to 350 degrees, until soft and warm. Dip the bass in the batter, coating the pieces well. Shake off any excess and fry in batches until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels and lightly salt.
5. To serve, place two or three pieces of fish on a warm tortilla. Squeeze lime juice on them, scatter on a few bits of chorizo, and top with cabbage and dollops of salsa and crema, to taste. Serve immediately.