Tacos de Mariscos Empanizados (Fried Fish Tacos with Chipotle Aioli)

Delicious fish tacos on a culinary vacation in MexicoLet’s kick off the year with a delightful, warm-weather recipe from our friends at Culinary Yucatan cooking vacation. Winter is the perfect time to escape the cold for the sunny environs of south-eastern Mexico, where you will feast on amazing Yucatecan cuisine, visit ancient Mayan cities, and enjoy refreshing Mexican cocktails.

Yucatecan cuisine is considered some of the best in Mexico. The wealth of regional ingredients, including fresh produce, different chiles, and wonderfully aromatic herbs and spices, give it a complexity of flavor that will leave you coming back for more. This recipe is from the late David Sterling, one of the region’s most decorated chefs.

Please contact us for details on this or any of our amazing Mexico cooking vacations!

Tacos de Mariscos Empanizados

Serves: 6
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Cook method: Fry


For the aïoli

  • 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 1 c. olive oil at room temperature
  • 1½ tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 chile chipotle en adobo, drained

Fresh salsa on a Mexico culinary vacationFor the tacos

  • ¼ tsp each of paprika, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger
  • ¼ tsp each ground bay leaf, allspice, cloves and cayenne
  • ½ tsp each ground coriander, black pepper and dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp celery salt
  • 2 c. buttermilk
  • ¾ lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed and butterflied
  • ¾ lb mild white fish fillet (such as tilapia or grouper), cut across the grain into 1×3 inch strips
  • ¾ lb squid, cleaned and cut into ringlets
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt to taste

Avocados for your cooking classes in Mexico.For serving

  • 1 lb warm corn tortillas (make your own corn tortillas!)
  • 1 head bibb letture, washed and separated into small leaves
  • 2 ripe avocadoes, peeled, pitted and sliced lengthwise
  • 4 limes, cut into wedges
  • Salsa of your choice (optional)

Read an interview with Chef David Sterling.


1. Preparation of aïoli: Whisk the yolks by hand until pale yellow and creamy. Transfer to blender and add garlic and dry spices and process on medium for 2 minutes. With blender still operating, slowly add a quarter of the oil in a very thin stream. Be patient or the mayonnaise will “break.” Pause to scrape down sides of blender, then blend for 1 minute.

2. With blender still operating, add remaining oil as slowly as possible, periodically scraping the sides. When all the oil has been incorporated, the aïoli will be thick and creamy. With the blender on low, add the lime juice and then he chipotle chile and process until thoroughly blended. Chill until ready to serve.

Learn more about Mexican cuisine.

3. Preparation of tacos: Mix the dry spices to form the recado and put in an airtight container, reserving 1 tbsp for use (the rest can be kept for future use).

4. Place buttermilk in large non-reactive bowl and add the seafood.

The kitchen for your cooking classes in Mexico.

5. Mix the flour and 1 tbsp of the spice mixture (recado) in a re-sealable plastic bag.

6. Remove the seafood from the buttermilk, shaking to remove excess liquid, and place int he bag with the flour/recado mixture. Toss to coat thoroughly. Carefully remove fish pieces.

7. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil until very hot but not smoking. Working in batches so as not to overcrowd, fry the seafood, turning once, until golden brown and thoroughly cooked, approximately 4 minutes. Transfer to a rack or paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt to taste.

8. Invite diners to place a leaf of lettuce on a warm tortilla with some of the fish, a slice of avocado, the aïoli and salsa if desired. Squeeze on fresh lime juice to taste.

Cook in the Yucatan on our authentic Mexico cooking vacations.

Try more of chef David’s authentic Mexican recipes:

By Peg Kern

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