Our last months in Prague were a whirlwind of activity with preparations for our move to Mexico. Those busy weeks my time in the kitchen was limited to quick breakfasts or the occasional dinner. Our days started early and ended very late; you can imagine that gathering the energy to cook was a difficult task for me. Luckily we were able to rely on great cafes and restaurants in the (old) neighbourhood to nourish us.
The last time I cooked a real dinner was two months ago. You know, one that involves ingredient selection, preparation, cooking and setting a full dinner table to sit down at. For someone that dedicates their life to food, this is an odd realisation.
I’ve missed being in the kitchen, I’ve really missed cooking.
Last night for our comida, the main meal in Mexico, I was finally able to plan out and cook a full meal for my husband and I. We went to the supermarket and picked out (fresh) fish from among the sizeable selection. I can’t tell you how much I love having a wide variety of species to choose from — and that isn’t frozen. You also can’t beat the fact that the seafood comes from the sea which is just a few blocks away from the supermarket. If locally caught selection isn’t enough, there are also options from Mexico’s Pacific Ocean and Gulf Coast.
The local fish and seafood species are new to me, so it comes in handy that hubby knows quite a few of them — and the ones that are the tastiest too! He picked out a couple of yellowtail snappers, which the fish monger had already gutted and scaled for us. Hubby told me how delicious this snapper species tasted and guaranteed that I would love it. My tummy smiled with anticipation.
During the afternoon, as we laid on the beach sunbathing, my mind started gathering ideas for the preparation of our snapper. When it comes to fish I like to keep it very simple so as to allow the true flavours to shine through. Garlic and citrus are two ingredients I love incorporating into fish and seafood recipes, so they took their place on the ideas lists. I knew I wanted a bit of spiciness and that warm corn tortillas had to accompany our meal. Perhaps it was the blazing sun shinning down on us, but I also wanted an ice cold cerveza (beer) to help wash our fish down.
My new kitchen in Playa is bright, it has a good work area and after a few weeks I now feel quite comfortable in it. Here I’ve only made coffee, hot chocolate and a few quick breakfasts, but not a full dinner. While the sun was still peeking through the trees in the balcony, I began the prep work for our meal. I rinsed and pat-dried the fish; I chopped garlic and serrano peppers, then I sliced limes and prepared a plate to shoot some photos. Things were clicking in place and it felt like two months had not passed since I last did this.
The tropical birds sang outside as I continued to prep the side dish and cook our fish. The house came alive with sweet, spicy, lemony and scents of the sea. Oh how I’ve missed the wafting smells that fill a kitchen and tantalize the senses with the meal to come.
- 2 fresh yellowtail snappers, gutted, scaled and pat-dried
- 1 whole head of garlic, peeled and roughly minced
- 3 serrano peppers, thinly sliced
- fine sea salt, to taste
- 1 lime, juiced
- extra virgin coconut oil, or substitute with olive oil
- corn tortillas
- freshly chopped cilantro, leaves and stems if desired
- 1 lime cut into quarters
- salsa of choice if desired
- Heat enough coconut oil to lightly coat the pan. Once warm (don’t let it smoke, use medium-low heat) sauté the minced garlic and serrano slices, cook only until the garlic softens then remove from pan and set aside. Add a little bit more coconut oil to the pan if desired or needed, you don’t want the fish to stick to it. Place the fish into the pan and sprinkle a little bit of sea salt over each fish. Depending on the fish size, cook for about 10 minutes then flip over and cook another 8 minutes. The fish is finished cooking once it feels firm on both sides and the meat is flaky. Pour the juiced lime over the fish and allow to cook for 2 minutes before serving.
- Serve fish topped with the sautéed garlic, serrano peppers and a little bit of the chopped cilantro. Place the warm corn tortillas and other additional ingredients on the table for everyone to use as desired. Buen provecho or bon appetit!
- Though this recipe was created for yellowtail snapper, it would work great with your choice of fresh whole fish or even fillets.
Yellowtail snapper is a firm fish that has pointy fins, a yellowtail and golden stripe crossing either sides of it’s body. Once cooked it has a mild flaky flesh; the bones are long and hard and so easy to spot and lift off. The skin is lean and you only taste lean, healthy, flavourful meat. Both the scent and taste are mild yet still packed with a fantastic taste. The garlic, serrano and lime complimented perfectly without overpowering the unique fish taste; and on top of tortillas, chopped cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime juice the meal was a huge success.
Simply put this is a fish you must try if given the opportunity — it is scrumptious!
My husband complimented me over and over again with a job well done on cooking my first Caribbean fish and our first real meal in our new home. Needless to say, I am quite content that after a two month break my skills haven’t become rusty.;)
Have a fantastic weekend and happy cooking!