This Fish Fillets “Al Mojo de Ajo” recipe is one of the quickest ways to prepare fish filets. Just a few ingredients will render a delicious dinner in a matter of minutes. You can even use other types of fish, like cod, sole, or even salmon. If you love garlic, then you can add some extra slices of garlic to the recipe, and if you have any of the oil left over, you could use it to dip crusty French bread in it!
During this time of the year, many people observe the Lent season with fasting or with the abstinence from meat. This makes dishes prepared with fish, seafood and legumes very popular in Mexico. The fish markets are crowded during the early hours on Fridays, with shoppers eager to buy fresh products. In my hometown, in the Port of Tampico, the small fish market at the edge of the river looks like the site of a religious pilgrimage, where hundreds of people are willing to pay more to have the freshest fish and other seafood products. Even though nowadays you can easily find frozen seafood products at your local supermarket, people still prefer to go to the crowded and hectic local fish market. I guess traditions are traditions!
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
- 1½ Tilapia or other fish fillet
- 1 Lime
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup vegetable oil (or a mix of half olive oil and half vegetable oil)
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons flour (optional, see note)
- This recipe usually doesn’t call for the use of flour, but if you don’t have experience cooking fish, or do not have a non-stick frying pan, then the use of the flour will help you obtain a golden fish filet, and keep it form sticking to the pan or breaking while cooking.
1. Season fish with salt, pepper and lime juice. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. Heat oil at low heat in a large frying pan. Once hot, fry the garlic slices until they are golden. Make sure to remove promptly once they are light golden, if you leave them longer they will get a bitter taste. This step takes a few seconds, so be very careful.
3. If using the flour, dust the fillets with the flour, very lightly. Now, turn the heat to medium high on the frying pan where you cooked the garlic. Once hot, add the fish and cook on both sides. The cooking time will depend on the fish’s thickness. It will be about 2-3 minutes per side for those fillets about 1/3 inch thick, and about 5-7 minutes for thicker fillets. Do not turn the fish until every side is golden and cooked.
4. Remove this from the frying pan and place on a cooling rack with paper towel underneath to absorb any excess fat. To serve, garnish with the chopped parsley and golden garlic slices. (And if you add a little dab of butter, oh heavens!)
This dish is usually served with white rice, a salad or steamed vegetables, and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!