Wes Avila's Fried Fish Tacos

Chef-owner Wesley Avila, of Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles, shares his recipe for Baja fish tacos, reminiscent of his childhood trips to Mexico. Find out how Avila got the name for his premier restaurant fueled by his passion for serving delicious tacos, no matter the risk!


  • For the fish:
  • 3 pounds cod fillets
  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • Rice bran or vegetable oil
  • For the batter:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1 pilsner beer (12 ounces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • For the slaw:
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 cup cilantro stems, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • Salt, to taste
  • For the crema:
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons chipotle in adobo
  • 1 fresh habanero
  • For the pico de gallo salsa:
  • 1 pound heirloom tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 2 serranos, sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 limes, juiced
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • For toasted, crushed peppers:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 12 chile japones, de-stemmed
  • For serving:
  • 4 limes
  • 1/2 cup radishes, sliced
  • 12 corn tortillas


  1. Combine sour cream with chipotle in adobo and one fresh habanero chile in the food processor. Mix until blended completely. Set aside in the refrigerator.
  2. Cut fish into pieces about the size of your middle finger or about 3 ounces each. Season with salt. Place cornstarch into a small bowl. Dust the fish in cornstarch until it’s completely coated, and set aside.
  3. Fill a Dutch oven with vegetable oil, about three inches high, and bring to medium-high heat (about 365-375 degrees). To test the heat, dip an extra tortilla in the oil. If it floats back up the surface, it’s good. If it fries/browns right up, reduce the heat a little.
  4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients for the batter. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet batter bowl while whisking at a medium rate, just enough so the ingredients are incorporated. Piece by piece, submerge the cornstarch-dusted fish in the batter to fully coat them. Let excess batter drip off, and use the side of the bowl to wipe off any excess.
  5. Add the fish to the Dutch oven, piece by piece. Don’t crowd the pan too much or you’ll lower the temperature. Gently roll the pieces around with tongs and fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a rack over a hotel pan and season with salt immediately. Let dry.
  6. Combine all slaw ingredients in a bowl and stir gently until mixed.
  7. Combine all ingredients for pico de gallo in a bowl and stir gently until mixed.
  8. Add vegetable oil to a skillet over medium-high heat and add the de-stemmed chile japones. Toss the chiles in the oil to coat, and cook until aromatic and changing color from crimson to crimson-brown. Immediately remove from the heat with a slotted spoon and set aside. Place fish on a lined rack over a baking sheet.
  9. Warm all the tortillas, and plate the tacos. First two tortillas, then a tablespoon of chipotle crema, fish, slaw, pico de gallo. Break some toasted chiles over the top to add some flakey, smokey heat. Squeeze lime over top before you eat.