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Recipe #29: Red Snapper Veracruz, Or Huachinango a la Veracruzana

Posted Mar 02 2008 12:00am

Hmmmm, crispy fried parrot. But wait, doesn't the recipe call for red snapper? Hahahahaha, ONLY kidding.

No, we are not going to be frying up the above little buggers in a dish & eating them.

Now I'm adventurous all right, but there are limits to what even I will eat. That would just be sick, my friends. And what kind of person do you think I am to actually suggest such a thing?! ;-) The only way I'd even consider eating roast parrot is if it was the only thing on the menu at the "casa del desert island." And no, that's not the name of a new café I'm recommending you visit, that's just around the block. ;-) After 100 days of being shipwrecked & stranded on a desert island, & eating nothing but chalky coconuts all day (& night!), hell, you might reconsider too, if our fine feathered friend decided to come in for a landing. ;-) But until that time, I'll stick to eating other types of birds, i.e., like chicken!

So, no sautéed parrot on the menu today. You can now breathe a sigh of relief. ;-0 Today's recipe is nothing quite so exotic, although "Red Snapper Veracruz" is certainly an interesting & delightful dish in its own right. Sorry to disappoint you "bizarre food" junkies out there (LOL!).

The above photo is just a picture of parrots from Veracruz, Mexico, to get you in the mood to eat the cuisine of the region.

Now, I'm sure if you like seafood/fish, like me, you'll have fun with the below recipe. It's a standard of the Veracruz region, but is also served in other regions across Mexico. I had this dish when I was in Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo (or "Zihua" as the locals like to call it!) several years back, & it was one of my favorites. Hope you will enjoy making & eating it as much as I have!

I promise we'll get to the recipe in a moment, but first, if you'll indulge me for a few minutes more, I'd like talk a bit about the reason why I've decided to post this particular recipe at present. I promise it'll be interesting & entertaining (!)
I was inspired to post this particular recipe after reading a commenter's fabulous recollection of a delectable-sounding meal of garlic red snapper (& tequila slammers!) which he'd enjoyed in Cancun (see here for that comment). This comment was posted by a very fun & lively blogger (& frequent commenter on my blogs !) by the name of Billy Warhol , who is, in all likelihood probably of no relation to Andy?! ;-)

Billy, care to clarify/comment here on that?! ;-)

I'm sure he probably gets that comment ALL the time, & is probably good & sick of it by now.

Believe me, I can relate. Think about my first and last name for a moment. Corey Irwin. Does "Professor" Irwin Corey perchance ring any bells for some of you?! ;-) If you are under age 45, the chances of that bell actually ringing probably goes down drastically. ;-0 And although he was well before my time, I do happen to be well aware of "The Professor" by this point, thanks to the many people who think they're being really cute & smart by asking me if I'm any relation. And I sincerely hope that's never being asked as a serious question. ;-)

Anyhow, enough blathering on already about these loosely-related (but mostly tangential) backstories, anecdotes, & such. On with it! Or, in the spirit of this recipe's originating locale, perhaps instead I should say, "¡Ándale, Ándale, Arriba, Arriba!" Yes, I know what you are thinking: "Sheesh! There she goes again. For the love of Pete! Get to the dang recipe already!" And so, OK, ("Fine, be that way!" - LOL), here's the recipe

Huachinango a la Veracruzana
(NOTE: This recipe is actually an amalgamation of several recipes; I took only the best elements/ingredients from each, choosing to add some elements/ingredients while subtracting others, & modifying all included ingredients proportionally to reflect the proper amounts. Of course, I also tossed in a few of my own ideas, & then combined everything into my own, brand new recipe. Of course, I completely rewrote the cooking instructions to suit the new recipe. However, please keep in mind: What you see below is not just a rewrite, it's my own take on the recipe.)

(Sources: Amma's , Peter Stathakos, "Stack of Toast" (a blog from "Geeks With Blogs") , & Food Network/Emilio Allende Hernandez, Pardinos Restaurant, Veracruz, Mexico .)

1 (3.3 lb./1.5 kg.) whole red snapper, cleaned and scaled
2 medium onions, sliced
2 lbs. (i.e., roughly 2 large or 4 medium-sized) tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp. capers
6 Tbsp green olives, pitted & chopped
3 Tbsp black olives, pitted & chopped (optional)
5-10 pickled jalapenos (escabeche), cut into strips (NOTE: The amount used depends on the peppers' strength & the preferred level of heat.)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
4-6 cubes of feta cheese (optional) (NOTE: Adding feta cheese is NOT part of the traditional red snapper Veracruz recipe. I just thought it would put a new spin to an old favorite. If you haven't tasted the recipe in its original form, you might want to try making it first without the feta cheese, or serving the feta on the side as an optional add-in for your guests/family members.)

Ingredients for the marinade:
3 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons water
1/8 tsp. dried, powdered clove
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. granulated rock/sea salt
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp olive oil

Directions: Clean the fish, leaving the head & tail intact. With a sharp knife, score the fleshy part of the snapper, pricking it on both sides with a coarsely-tined fork. In a bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, water, olive oil, clove, salt, oregano, & black pepper to make the marinade.

Pour the marinade over the fish and allow marinate for 30 minutes. (If you have more time, let it marinate for 2 hours, which would be ideal but not required. The longer you marinate the fish, the more flavorful it will be. However, do not let fish marinate overnight, or the flavor will be way too strong/overpowering.)

Pour 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil into a hot pan and sear the fish for a few minutes on each side. Then add the remaining ingredients in the following order: First, add the sliced onion. Cook until soft & translucent but avoid browning them. Next, add the bay leaves & pour in the chopped tomatoes, followed by the pickled jalepenos, olives, and capers. Season with salt and continue simmering for 15 minutes. Be sure to continually baste the fish in the sauce as you cook. Turn the fish over & continue baking until tender. Before serving, sprinkle the chopped parsley & feta cheese over the snapper and serve on a large dish.

Yield: 4 servings.

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