If you can’t spend winter in the Caribbean, you can take your tastebuds on a tropical trip in just minutes and give regular old baked, fried or grilled fish a bit of shine.
This is a simple way to prepare fish, made Caribbean-funky with a mojo (savory dressing, pronounced mo-ho). While mojos can be elaborate and include annatto oil, hot sauce, tomatoes, olives and capers, this is my dad’s everyday lunch version, the way he learned it in Aruba, where he is from. At least that’s where I think he learned it, but I’ve been wrong about these things before.
If you have very ripe plantains, you can fry them up for a sweet accompaniment (but I”ll have to show you how on another day).
Pedro’s Mojo Arubiano
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1/2 green pepper (cubanelle/Italian cooking pepper preferred), sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
(sprinkle of red hot pepper flakes, optional)
1 -2 tsp white vinegar
In a small saucepan, place all ingredients except vinegar, and heat at medium until everything is fairly wilted. Add vinegar to taste and turn burner off, leaving the sauce to warm and flavors to incorporate while you are preparing the fish.
Simple Stovetop Fish (makes four servings)
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup flour/breadcrumbs/cornmeal (use what you’ve got, or your preferred mix)
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
pepper to taste
4 4oz filets of tilapia (preferably U.S. raised) or other firm fish (oily fish like kingfish go well also)
In a skillet, heat oil at medium high until loose and liquid.
In the meantime, put beaten egg in a bowl that will fit a filet or on a plate. On another plate, mix flour, salt and pepper. Dip fish filets in egg, then in flour/breadcrumb mixture until thoroughly coated. Cook fish, lowering heat to medium, about 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through (fish should be opaque all through).
Serve filets on individual plates, then top with mojo. Goes well with rice and fried ripe plantains or Latin-style beans.