Mr Wilson’s fish tacos with two sauces

The northwestern state Baja California in Mexico is the original home of the Tacos de pescado ('fish tacos'). This authentic variation from Paul Wilson is the first of a series from his new cookbook Cantina.

Mr Wilson’s fish tacos with two sauces

Ingredients and Methods

25 min *
7 min
* Additional time required if making all the ingredients yourself


For the chipotle mayo

  • 400mlaioli
  • 175gchipotle in adobe sauce, finely chopped (or homemade adobe sauce)
  • 1lime, juice
  • pinchof sea salt, to taste

For the slaw

  • 2 cupsvery finely shredded, Savoy or Napa cabbage
  • 1 cupvery finely shredded, red cabbage
  • 1small fennel bulb, finely shaved
  • 1red onion, finely sliced
  • 4breakfast radishes, finely sliced
  • 1large handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly shredded
  • 150mlzesty lime dressing
  • pinchof sea salt, to taste

For the fish

  • 400gfirm white fish (i.e. snapper, blue eye trevalla, monkfish or grouper) cut into approximately 40g strips
  • 500mlMexican beer batter
  • someplain flour, for coating
  • enoughsunflower oil or rice bran oil, for deep frying


To make the chipotle mayo, whisk the aioli, chipotle in adobe sauce and lime juice together in a medium bowl. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Season with salt. Refrigerate until required.

To prepare the slaw, finely shave the vegetables using a mandolin. Combine the red and white cabbage, fennel and radish in a medium bowl, cover with damp paper towel and refrigerate until required. Keep the onion and parsley separate until ready to serve as it deteriorates.

Pour enough oil in a large heavy based saucepan to half fill. Set over medium heat and heat to 180 º C.

To par-cook the fish, dredge the fish in flour, coat in batter and fry in batches, for 2–3 minutes, until golden. Remove using a slotted spoon or tongs and place on paper towel, to drain.

Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over high heat. Lightly spray with oil and briefly fry the tortillas to warm. Stack the tortillas, wrap in warm a damp tea towel and set aside to keep warm.

Combine the slaw ingredients, add the lime dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt.

Re-fry the fish for 1–2 minutes, until crisp, golden and cooked through.

To serve, place tortillas onto serving plates, drizzle with the sauces and top with a little of the slaw and piece of crispy fish. Drizzle with a little more of the sauces.

Serve with napkins, ice cold beer or chilled Riesling.

Quick tip - For simpler fish tacos, replace the slaw with chopped iceberg, sliced radishes and finely sliced red onion, lightly dress with chipotle mayo and a squeeze of lime.

To store any leftover chipotle chilies in adobe sauce, simply blend and pour into an ice cube tray lined with plastic wrap. Once frozen place in a freezer bag, weigh and label for future use.

Masa Tortillasto top

10 min
50 min


  • 3 cupsfine white masa harina flour
  • 1 tspsea salt
  • 450mlwater
  • ½ tbspvegetable oil


Combine the flour and salt in an electronic mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Mixing at medium speed, gradually pour in the water and oil, to make a dough. Work the dough until it comes away clean from the sides. Form a ball and press to flatten, when the dough is the right consistency it should not split at the sides. Add a little more water if necessary.

Shape the dough into twenty-four or twelve even sized balls, depending on whether you are making small tortillas for tacos or larger ones for quesadillas or tostadas.

Using a tortilla press, flatten the balls between two pieces of baking paper, creating a thin disc. Alternatively roll out between baking paper using a rolling pin, however your discs will not be so perfectly round.

Heat ideally a cast iron pan or non-stick pan over medium- high heat. Cook the tortillas for 1 minute on each side, until light golden.

* For Boccoles – prepare one third of the dough recipe as per the method above, adding only 100 ml of water, to prepare a very dry dough that can be shaped into a ball.

Tip – Tortillas can be prepared in advance and frozen. Simply par-cook and layer the tortillas between pieces of plastic or baking paper. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to a month.

Adobe Sauceto top

30 min
45 min


  • 3large red capsicums, halved lengthways
  • 1red onion, peeled & quartered
  • 1head garlic, peeled
  • 3long green chillies
  • ⅓ cup(80ml) olive oil
  • 2dried Guajillo chillies
  • 75g(approx 4 medium) dried chipotle chillies
  • 1large handful oregano leaves
  • 2 tbspsmoked paprika
  • 3 tspMexican spice blend
  • ½ cup(110 g) castor sugar
  • ½ cup(125 ml) sherry vinegar
  • pinchof sea salt, to taste


Preheat an overhead grill to high heat.

Place the capsicum, onion, garlic and chillies on a grill tray and grill, turning occasionally, for 10–15 minutes, until soft and charred black. Allow to cool slightly. Roughly chop.

Remove the stalks and roughly chop the guajillo and chipotle chillies, retaining the seeds.

Heat the oil in a medium heavy based saucepan over low heat.

Gently fry the chillies for 2–3 minutes, until they begin to colour. Add the charred vegetable mixture, oregano and spices and cook for a further 2 minute, or until fragrant. Add the sugar and wine and cook until the liquid reduces to a syrup.

Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Decrease the heat and gently simmer for 45 minutes, or until reduced to a thick sauce.

Transfer the mixture into a food processor, blender or vitamiser and blend, gradually adding a little water if required, to make a smooth sauce. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing & rubbing with the back of a spoon to ensure all of the sauce passes through. Season with salt.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Aioli to top

5 min


  • 3large egg yolks
  • ½ tbspchampagne vinegar
  • 3garlic cloves, finely grated
  • ½ tbspDijon mustard
  • 200mlvegetable oil
  • ½ cup(125ml) groundnut oil
  • ½a lemon, juiced
  • 2 tspsea salt
  • warm water


Whisk the yolks, vinegar, garlic and mustard together in a medium bowl using an electric mixer, until smooth and creamy.

Continuously whisking, gradually pour in the oils, one by one, in thin streams, until they are fully incorporated and the sauce is smooth and thick. Add lemon juice and season with salt.

If the sauce is too thick, add a little warm water to achieve the desired consistency.

Zesty Lime Dressingto top

2 min
5 min


  • 3zest of limes, finely grated
  • 300mlfreshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ cup(110 g) castor sugar
  • 325mlextra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tspsea salt


Combine the lime zest, 100 ml of the lime juice and the sugar in a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the zest is soft.

Transfer into a food processor, blender or vitamiser and blend, gradually adding the olive oil and remaining juice, until emulsified. Season with salt.

Mexican Beer Batterto top

15 min


  • 10gfresh yeast
  • 1 cup(250ml) pale ale
  • ½ tspwhite vinegar
  • 1 cup(150 g) plain flour
  • pinchof sea salt
  • pinchof sugar
  • pinchof saffron powder


Crumble the fresh yeast in a small bowl. Pour in the ale and vinegar and stir, to dissolve the yeast.

Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Cover with a clean tea towel and set in a warm place for 10 minutes, or until the batter is aerated and increased in size.

Whisk the batter once more before using.

Mexican beer batter can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days.

Chef Paul Wilson

Credited with serving some of Australia’s most exciting food, Paul Wilson has been described as one of the most extraordinary culinary talents in the Commonwealth & continues to receive critical acclaim for crafting inspiring dishes that take an innovative approach to cuisine traditions. (more)

here to view all of Chef Paul Wilson's recipes.

Paul Wilson

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