This is a delicious fish that is one of the most famous dishes of the Jalisco state in Mexico. We’ve eaten this a few times in restaurants near Puerto Vallarta…and love it! The recipe is adapted from one by Rick Bayless (exec. chef of the Frontera Grill in Chicago), who is one of my favorite chefs.
- Two 1.5 to 3 lb whole fish (I use red snapper…striped bass works too), cleaned, scaled, gills removed, fins trimmed (try an Asian supermarket like Marina market or Ranch 99 in the Bay Area)
- 2 large red onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2.5 lbs (about 20) small red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and halved (you can quarter larger ones)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Lots of Aluminum foil (for grilling)
- For the Marinade:
- 5 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
- 5 medium (about 2.5 oz) dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into flat pieces
- 5 large garlic cloves
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- A pinch of whole cloves (3-5)
- 2 Tbsp chopped piloncillo (cane sugar) or dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- Making the Marinade: Heat 3 Tbsp of oil in a med skillet on med heat. When hot, place ancho chile pieces in and cook for a 20-30 seconds on each side. Put in a bowl, pour in 1 and 2/3 cups of hot tap water, and cover with a plate to weight down the chiles (you need a smallish bowl so that the chiles and water will mostly fill the bowl. Let the chiles soak for about 15 minutes while you combine the other ingredients.
- In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, sugar (or piloncillo), vinegar and a heaping Tbsp of salt. Pour in the rehydrated chiles and liquid. Process to a smooth puree. Taste…the consistency should be thicker than hot sauce, thinner than ketchup.
- Marinate the fish: Tear two 3 foot long pieces of foil and fold in half to 1.5 ft so that the shiny side is facing out. Place both width wise on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Make 3 deep, diagonal slashes (to the bone) on both sides of each fish–evenly spaced. Put one fish on each piece of foil. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the Adobo marinade. Squeeze the juice of one lime and stir to combine. Smear both sides of each fish and smear well into the slashes. Fold the overhanging foil over the fish, and refrigerate (at least 1 hour).
- Grill-roast the vegetables: Preheat gas grill to medium high. Cut 2 pieces of foil, 3 feet long. Lay one on top of the other, shiny side up. In a bowl, combine the onions and potatoes. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil and 1 cup of the Adobo…stir/toss to combine. Spread the vegetables over half the foil, folding the other half over the veggies to cover them. Then crimp the edges to seal tightly. Poke 1 hole in the foil package. Slide onto the grill grates. Cook 6-8 minutes, then flip for another 6-8 minutes. Then put up on the warming rack or to a cooler part of the grill to continue roasting while you cook the fish.
- Grill the fish: PIck up each fish by the foil, cradling, and carefully place on the grill. You can fold the foil up a bit around the fish (not covering though) to make room and to prevent the Adobo from escaping. Close the grill cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Uncover, and baste each fish with the remaining marinade. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes. Roll each fish over. You can use a spatula to move the fish to the near side of the foil…then pick up the edge of the foil with your fingers and roll the fish. Based this side with the remaining marinade, then cover the grill and cook for a final 8-10 minutes until the fish flakes firmly at the thickest part.
- Serving: Remove the fish from the grill and slide them onto a large serving platter. Arrange the onions and potatoes around the fish, sprinkle with chopped Cilantro (and salt if needed), and serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!