May: Pescado al Mojo de Ajo (Authentic Mexican)

Barriga llena, corazón contento.” – Mexican proverb

Translation: “Full belly, happy heart.”

I would estimate that over 90% of my diet is vegetarian, with the notable exception of the delicious, wild-caught seafood that is so abundant and accessible in the Pacific Northwest. While the majority of the recipes I’m exploring are entirely plant-based, there will be a few fish and shellfish dishes making surprise appearances.

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Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico (20th anniversary)

Rick Bayless with Deann Groen Bayless, William Morrow Cookbooks (2007)

Rick Bayless has hosted a 26-part PBS series called Cooking Mexican in 1978, then spent 6 years in Mexico doing culinary research – this cookbook is the result. Bayless continues to appear on PBS, including Mexico: One Plate at a Time, which is currently on its 11th season. He is involved in 10 restaurants all over the United States, and has won numerous culinary awards from the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. In 2012, Bayless was awarded the Insignia of the Order of the Aztec Eagle, which is one of the highest honors that Mexico can bestow on foreigners. It seems if you want a well-researched collection of original recipes made with ingredients native to Mexico, Rick Bayless knows what he’s talking about.

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Modifications, Testing and Recommendations: This cookbook was great because it had various modifications already printed in the margins, like how to make this recipe with shrimp instead of fish, or what side dishes go well with it. I used true cod fillets, but it seems any light, white fish will work. Marinating the fish in the lime juice and salt was a good touch, although if I made this recipe again in the future, I would skip dredging the fillets in flour before pan frying.

Get the recipe here! “Mojo de ajo” means “garlic sauce/oil” – I browned the garlic in the oil, then strained it out again. I cooked the fish in the garlic-infused oil, then stirred the browned garlic back in with some cilantro just before serving. There wasn’t a lot of spices used in this recipe but the salt, lime, garlic and cilantro are perfect with the light flaky fish. Perfect for garlic-lovers everywhere!

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I paired the fish with Bayless’ Mexican Red Rice and guacamole because we were making tacos. Toasting the uncooked rice grains before adding the broth definitely added another element of flavor to the recipe. Unfortunately, the stove I was using was having some consistency issues – in order to have everything finish cooking at the same time, I had to crank up the heat on the rice, which made the consistency a little sticky. It was still delicious, and made for good leftovers.

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