As I’ve mentioned before, Tampico, Tamaulipas is my hometown. Its port on the Gulf of Mexico is well known in the region for its seafood restaurants and for the many ways that the locals like to cook fish and other seafood. Although the supermarkets carry a large selection of fish and seafood products, the locals still prefer to go to the old “La Puntilla” fish market along the Panuco River. Here the fishing boats arrive early in the morning to deliver the last night’s catch. It is common to see at Sunday family gatherings a table full of shrimp, crabs, fish, turnover-empanadas and the like. This meal is called a “Mariscada”, kind of a like a Seafood party, and it’s usually accompanied with a cold beer. That’s one of the things to look forward to when visiting my town.
|Photo Courtesy of “El Sol De Tampico”, Newspaper.|
Ingredients for 4 servings
- 1 1/2 pound of fish filets (Tilapia, Sole or Cod works fine)**
- 1 lime
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tablespoons of canola oil
For the sauce
- 2 large tomatoes diced
- 1/2 cup of white diced onion
- 1 jalapeño o serrano pepper minced ***
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- 1 Tablespoon of canola or olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Chopped cilantro or parsley to garnish optional
* Make sure you have all the ingredients ready according to the above list since this is a dish that cooks quickly.
** You can use any other type of fish that’s available in your area.
*** Adjust the amount of peppers to your taste, or substitute the jalapeño pepper with a green bell pepper for a non-spicy version.
1. Season the fish with the salt, pepper, and lime juice, then slightly dust with the flour, patting it on to coat the fish. The flour will help prevent the fish from breaking or sticking to the pan while cooking. Dust off any excess flour.
2. Heat the 2 Tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet at medium high. Add the garlic slices and fry until golden.
3. Once the garlic has a golden color, remove the garlic slices. Place the filets in the skillet (avoid crowding the pan). Cook until firm. This step will take between 2 to 4 minutes depending of the thickness of the filet. Repeat this step with the remaining filets if not all of them fit at once.
4. Once each filet is cooked, transfer to a large dish and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm or place in a warm oven while you prepare the salsa (which will take just a few minutes). Or better yet, you can start the salsa while the filets are cooking.
5. Heat the tablespoon of oil in a non stick skillet and add the onion, jalapeño pepper, and garlic clove. Sauté until the onion is transparent.
6. Add the chopped tomato and stir, season with salt and cover. Let the salsa cook in medium high for about 5 minutes. The texture will be that of a (not overcooked) chunky salsa with a little bit of bite. Make sure you use good juicy tomatoes to have a great salsa, if not your salsa will be dry and you’ll need to add some water.
7. Serve the fish and top it with the salsa along with white rice, steam vegetables or a salad.