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Zarandeado Fish: Recipe, Origin, and Tradition

  • Joel CZ 
  • 4 min read
zarandeado fish
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Zarandeado fish (Pescado zarandeado) dates back to pre-Hispanic times, and its origin is linked to the Pacific coast. Especially in the states of Nayarit and Sinaloa.

This cooking style consists of a fish, preferably red snapper or amberjack, opened in half (butterfly style), seasoned, smoked on a grill with mangrove wood, and accompanied with vegetables.

It has been known in Mazatlecan and Nayarit lands for centuries.

Mangrove wood is no longer used. Charcoal is used instead due to the restrictions that protect this kind of vegetation in our country.

Origin

In indigenous times, several centuries ago, part of the state of Nayarit and the south of Sinaloa were unified by the Totorame people, whose main lordship was Chiametlán.

These tribes cooked their food with special utensils, techniques, and preparation, similar to the one used for zarandeado today.

Nowadays, the Zarandeado fish is a favorite meal for friends and family reunions because you can feed several people with just one large fish.

Usually, coastal side restaurants show you the fresh fish upfront so you can select the one you want to be prepared.

There are many recipes, and the seasoning with which the fish is smeared before placing it on the coals is part of the secret of the flavor with that rich smoky taste.

If you’ve ever been to the Mexican Pacific, I’m sure you’ve drooled at least once over this delicacy. There is nothing like a well-prepared taco with this dish that is so good in Nayarit (and all over the coast).

The ideal is to do it on an outdoor grill, using a traditional sieve to imprison the smeared fish.

However, if you’re visiting a restaurant in the country’s interior, such as Mexico city, make sure they have a proper grill with wood or charcoal.

Zarandeado fish recipe

zarandeado fish
Red snapper is the best for this recipe – Source: Nizam Daniell / shutterstock.com

Ingredients – five servings:

  • 1 Red snapper or amberjack fish of a good size, weighing about 700 gms
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 300gms white onion
  • 50 ml lime juice
  • 20 ml mustard
  • 20 gms mayonnaise
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 20 gms macha oil sauce
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper

Preparation:

  • The first thing to do is wash the fish thoroughly, cut it in half and remove scales and bones
  • Fry 200 gms of sliced onion in a frying pan, together with the two cloves of garlic
  • Blend the lemon juice in a mixer with the sautéed garlic and onion. Spread it all over the fish
  • In a bowl, mix the mustard, mayonnaise, and macha sauce that you can tolerate (and that your guests can tolerate), and add salt and pepper to taste
  • Take a tempered glass baking dish that will fit all the fish lengthwise. Grease it with butter
  • Preheat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius
  • Spread the sauce mixture you previously made on the smooth, trying not to leave any space without it
  • Top the fish with what you have left of the sliced onion, as well as the bell peppers in medium julienne strips
  • Put your baking dish in the oven and cover it with aluminum foil to cook faster and better without losing so much liquid. Leave your preparation inside for 25 minutes, at 180 degrees
  • After that, take it out and let it cool for five minutes. Your fish will come out bubbling hot, so be careful
  • Serve on a platter in the center. It is best for everyone to decide how much to eat. Serve with tortillas and make as many tacos as you like. You can also add a side of white rice or Mexican style

Keep in mind this is an “oven” preparation method. The same ingredients apply if you want to cook the traditional way with a grill basket.

If you need a little more spice, add a few drops of extra salsa macha. And don’t forget to enjoy this meal with a cold beer!

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