As we posted on Navel Gazing, Jon Apothaker, an amateur fisherman with a penchant for big-ass fish, landed a 225-pound giant black sea bass, an endangered species, off Balboa Pier in January. Local foodies gathered around, hoping for sashimi samples, but sadly for the region's culinarians, Mr. Apothaker tried to revive the fish and return it to water. (One wonders whether mouth-to-gill resuscitation was employed.)
“Gee, that would have been a lot of fish tacos,” the Newport Beach Daily Pilot quotes him as having said. (His attorney denies he said this.)
Mr. Apothaker faces a potential $1,000 fine; if you think about it, that means his fish cost $4.44 a pound, which is not a bad black-market rate for a protected species and certainly within the reasonable range for a profit on fish tacos.
One note about the recipe below; the meat yield on a sea bass is about 50 percent, so that 225-pound behemoth would only yield about 112.5 lbs. of meat.
Baja Fish Tacos
Makes 450 tacos; serves 225 people. That is, indeed a lot of fish tacos.
1 225 lb. endangered giant black sea bass, filleted and cut into 4 oz. portions
50 bottles dark beer (12 fl. oz. each)
17.5 lbs. all-purpose flour
1.75 cups salt
900 corn tortillas
2.5 gallons Tbsp. crema mexicana
225 Mexican (Key) limes, halved
3.5 gallons pico de gallo
45 heads green cabbage, shredded
20 gallons neutral oil (corn, vegetable, rapeseed) for frying
10 industrial-sized cans pepper spray (for the PETA and Greenpeace protesters)
Whisk the flour, beer and salt together.
Bring the oil in a deep fryer to 360°F.
Pat the fish dry, then dip each piece in the batter.
Fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Do not crowd the fryers.
Heat the tortillas on a griddle.
Lay two tortillas on top of each other.
Top with one piece of fish, a small handful of cabbage, 1-2 Tbsp. of crema and 2 Tbsp. of pico de gallo.
Serve two to a plate with two lime halves.