the appetizer:

Mexican cuisine combines the traditional indigenous foods of the Aztecs and Mayas, like chocolate, corn, tomato, avocado, beans and chile peppers, with the meats, rice and garlic brought to Mexico by the Spanish conquistadores.

Global Destinations
Grilled Snapper  


Grilled Snapper
with Charred Habanero Salsa

Serves 4

If you grill the fish whole over banana leaves, this is tikin xik, a classic Yucatan dish. It tastes best made on a deserted beach with a banana leaf right off the tree and fish straight from the ocean. If you are not lucky enough to be on the beach, have a Cuba libre (a rum and Coke made the right way-lots of rum, ice, a little cola), plan your vacation, and cook this dish. You may omit the banana leaves and grill the fish fillets. Served with the salsa, this makes an elegant first course, or can be offered as a main dish accompanied with Oaxacan-Style Black Beans with Avocado Leaves.

1 medium-sized whole red snapper or grouper (1-1/2 to 2 pounds),
   split in half through the stomach and butterflied, or 2 pound firm
   white fish fillets such as red snapper, grouper, or sea bass
1 cup Traditional Achiote Recado or Quick Achiote Recado
1 piece banana leaf, 10 by 15 inches (optional)
Charred Habanero Salsa

Place the fish in a medium-sized, nonreactive container and pour achiote over it. Turn to coat well. Cover, refrigerate, and let marinate at least 2 hours.

Light the grill and let burn down to a medium fire. If using banana leaf, wash it well in hot water, and lay it, still damp, on the grill. Immediately lay fish, skin side down, on top of leaf. Cover grill and cook, without turning the fish over, until done, about 10 minutes. When fish is cooked, juices will be bubbling and you will be able to lift out the central bone easily. If you are not using banana leaf, oil grill, and immediately lay fish on grill, skin side down. Grill until fish is cooked a little more than halfway through, about 5 minutes. Turn and grill until fish is just cooked through, about 3 minutes more for a 3/4-inch-thick fillet. Serve topped with salsa.

La Parilla: The Mexican Grill
By Reed Hearon
Photographs by Laurie Smith
Chronicle Books, 1996
Price: $19.95, paper
ISBN: 0-8118-1034-8
Reprinted by permission


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This page modified January 2007