Guajillo chile and orange-marinated grilled red snapper
I was in Puerto Escondido on the Pacific coast in Oaxaca and got a text message from my friend Kevin. “Look up Hotel de las Palmas and enter directly through the driveway onto the beach between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (the earlier the better). The fishermen are there selling the fish that they just caught. Turn right when you hit the sand and look for the people that fillet the fish. Ask for Flor and Fernando and ask them to show you how to make pescado a la talla.”
I went at 9 a.m. on the dot, found Fernando, and bought a three-kilogram atún barrilete blanco (kind of like a small swordfish). I took it to his sister-in-law, Doña Mariana, who showed me her way of cleaning, dressing, and grilling it. She put it on a huge plastic platter with limes and warm corn tortillas. I was back on the beach by 10 a.m. eating some of the best grilled fish I have ever had.
- 6 large chiles guajillos (1.26 oz/ 36 g), stemmed and seeded
- 3 chiles de árbol (0.12 oz/3.2 g), stemmed and seeded
- ¼ large white onion (4.3 oz/122 g), chopped, plus more for serving
- 3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
- 2 ¾-inch-wide strips orange zest
- 1 tablespoon Recado Rojo, or achiote paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- 1 bay leaf, dried or fresh
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 oz/57 g), at room temperature
- 2½ teaspoons Morton kosher salt (0.56 oz/16 g)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil, for the grill
- 1 whole red snapper (3 lb/1.3 kg), scaled, cleaned, and butterflied
- Warm Tortillas de Maíz
- Your favorite salsa
- Lime and orange wedges
- Sliced cucumber
- Chopped white onion
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By Rick Martínez
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1. In a medium saucepan, bring ½ cup water and the chiles guajillos and chiles de árbol to a boil. Cover the pot, remove from the heat, and let sit for 30 minutes until the chiles are soft.
2. Transfer the chile mixture to a blender and add the onion, garlic, orange zest, recado rojo, oregano, bay leaf, butter, salt, and pepper. Puree until completely smooth. Set aside.
3. Prepare a grill for medium heat. Use tongs and an old, clean kitchen towel to brush the grates with oil. Pat the skin side dry with paper towels (this will help keep the fish from sticking). Using a sharp knife, score the flesh side of the fish at 1-inch intervals on a diagonal about ¼ inch deep. Season with the salt and pepper. Generously brush the chile guajillo puree onto the flesh side of the fish, making sure to coat the entire surface and pushing it into the score marks.
4. Grill the fish, skin-side down, until the skin is charred, for 7 to 10 minutes. Carefully turn the fish over with a wide spatula; continue to cook until the flesh side has char marks and easily releases from the grate and the flesh flakes easily, for about 2 minutes.
5. Place the fish flesh-side up on a platter. Serve with tortillas, salsa, limes, oranges, cucumbers, and onion.
Excerpted from Mi Cocina by Rick Martínez. Copyright © 2022 by Clarkson Potter. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.