Mexico City is having a moment (decade?) and we’re pretty sure it has something to do with this very dish. Gabriela Camara’s Contramar is a must for any Mexico City travel itinerary. Her casual seafood eatery is world-famous amongst foodies with passports and her new cookbook makes the epic, authentic food accessible anywhere.
Mexico City’s cuisine is as vibrant and diverse as the culture it comes from. Contramar’s bright, fresh, veggie-forward menu is a glowing example of what’s drawing so many food-first travelers to the big city. Slate this famous fish recipe in for your first BBQ of the summer (and every single one that follows)…
My family has two kinds of eaters: Those who love chiles with wild abandon and those who really don’t. As you might be able to guess, the Mexican side likes their food hot; the Italians, not so much. But for a close family, Pescado a la Talla is the perfect solution. In its traditional presentation, a whole red snapper is butterflied and split down the middle so that you can grill the fillets on both sides of the fish at once. Two different salsas — a mild green parsley one and my hotter red adobo — are painted onto the two sides of the fish. The cooked fish is brought to the table on one platter. Everyone shares the same meal, but the spice lovers don’t have to compromise and those who prefer things milder don’t have to suffer. Both sides of this fish are delicious and it looks spectacular, too. This has become one of our most popular fuertes at Contramar, where the waiters gingerly remove the flesh from the bones at the table and serve it with warm tortillas and refried black beans.
If you don’t have a fishmonger who can butterfly a whole snapper for you, buy four fillets instead and cook two of them with the red sauce and two with the green, in a grill pan or on a grill. You want the grill marks because they sear the sauce into the flesh of the fish. Both sauces can be made a day ahead and stored in separate sealed containers in the refrigerator.
CONTRAMAR’S SIGNATURE RED + GREEN GRILLED RED SNAPPER
For the green sauce:
4 garlic cloves
2 cups parsley leaves
1⁄2 cup safflower oil
pinch of ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
For the fish:
1 whole red snapper (butterflied) or 4 (8 oz) boneless skin-on red snapper fillets
1 cup Adobo de Chiles Rojos
1 recipe Salsa Roja Asada (or another red salsa of your choosing)
1 recipe Salsa Verde Cruda (or another green salsa of your choosing)
1 recipe Tortillas de Maiz, warmed
1 recipe Frijoles Refritos
additional salsa of your choosing
For the green sauce:
Place the garlic, parsley, oil, cumin and salt in the jar of a blender and puree until smooth.
For the fish:
Once you are ready to cook the fish, heat a grill to medium or a grill pan over medium heat. Brush the cooking surface with oil so the fish won’t stick.
Clean fish well, then pat it dry. Using a sharp knife, crosshatch flesh on the diagonal, making cuts about 1⁄2 inch deep and 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with salt. If using fillets, spread two of them with 1⁄2 cup of the red sauce each and the other two with 1⁄2 cup of the green sauce, being careful to coat the entire surface and get the sauce into the crosshatched knife marks. If using a butterflied whole fish, spread the red sauce on one half of the fish and the green sauce on the other half, carefully covering the whole surface area and working the sauce into the knife marks.
Grill the fish, skin-side down, until it’s almost cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully flip it over and cook the flesh side until it has char marks and easily releases from the grill or pan. Place it flesh-side up on a platter or onto individual plates. Serve with the warm tortillas, a bowl of refried black beans, whatever salsa you wish and wedges of lime.