Recipe Friday: The Rockfish Tacos from Taco Chelo

Marilyn HawkesSeptember 27, 2019
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If you’re a taco lover (and really, who isn’t?), you’ll appreciate this week’s recipe from chef Suny Santana of Roosevelt Row’s Taco Chelo. He shares the restaurant’s popular Rockfish Taco recipe, which has several components, but the end result is worth it.

Santana uses rockfish from local Chula Seafood because it’s available year-round and the restaurant can get it fresh every day. “It’s a nice, flaky fish.”

After battering and frying the fish in hot rice bran oil, Santana sprinkles the pieces with fine sea salt to “penetrate into the crispiness of the fish.” His personal preference when eating a rockfish taco – a splash of Cholula sauce on top. “It adds a tanginess – not too hot, not too mild.”

Taco Chelo will participate in the upcoming Arizona Taco Festival at WestWorld in Scottsdale Oct. 12-13, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. For more information, visit

Taco Chelo Rockfish


1 lb. rockfish (adjust amount for more people)
2 quarts rice bran oil (heated to 350 degrees)
Shredded cabbage
Corn tortillas 

Chile Morita Crema


1 qt. sour cream
½ cup chile morita paste
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. salt


Mix together until all one color.

Beer Batter


8 oz. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Add salt and black pepper to taste
6 oz. beer, any kind


  • Mix beer with the flour until it puffs up. There should be equal amount of fish and batter
  • Deep fry the lightly battered fish to a golden brown.

Pickled Onions


¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup lime juice
1 onion, sliced
1 habanero pepper, diced
Add salt and pepper and oregano to taste


Soak for at least 6-8 hours.

Pico de Gallo


3 tomatoes, chopped
½ yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
¼ bunch cilantro, chopped
2 limes, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste


Chop and mix together.

Preparation and Assembly

Batter the fish and drop into hot rice oil. While fish is cooking, griddle the tortillas. When the fish is done cooking, about two minutes until it’s golden brown, drain for 30 seconds on a wire rack or with a perforated spoon. Season with super fine sea salt. Set fish on tortilla, put thinly sliced cabbage on top, then the crema in a zigzag pattern, followed by pico de gallo and pickled onions.

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