Fresh Lime and Chile Dressing for Fish
Recipe for Sauce: Zarela’s Veracruz, Houghton Mifflin, 2001
At the little fish restaurants and outdoor cafés around Lake Catemaco, this is a usual accompaniment to pan-fried or broiled fish or langostinos. At the simplest, the original chile limón consisted of just grinding hot green chiles with salt in a mortar and pestle and adding lime squeezed lime juice. Now you find versions with tomatillos, cilantro, and other seasonings. I love them all! Make it as simple or complex as you like. The mortar-and-pestle version is still very good, but nowadays people usually prefer a blender.
I am giving my favorite version of chile limón with garlic, onion, tomatillos, and cilantro. If desired you can omit any of these except the onion, without the tomatillos the yield will be about 3/4 – 1 cup.
Makes about 2 cups
6 – 8 medium-sized tomatillos, husks removed (about 8 ounces)
2 teaspoon s salt, or to taste
2 jalapeño or serrano chiles, stemmed and seeded
4 garlic cloves
1/2 small white onion, coarsely chopped
8 cilantro sprigs
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice
Place the tomatillos in a small saucepan with a pinch of salt. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat until they change color, about 5 minutes. Drain and let cool to room temperature. If you are using a blender, simple process all the ingredients together, very slowly adding a little cold water (up to 1/4 – 1/2 cup in all) to thin the sauce to a slightly soupy consistency. If making it by hand, first coarsely chop the chiles and garlic, then pound them to a rough paste with about 2 teaspoons salt, using a mortar and pestle. Add the other ingredients and grind to form a chunky sauce; thin with 1/4 – 1/2 cup water. Serve with broiled or fried seafood, using This Salmon al Chile Limón as a general model.
For the Fish:
I find it very difficul to write precise fish recipes because there are so many variables: ho thick, how fatty, how cooked a fish filet should be. I personally like my salmon barely done but many customers preferred it well done. That was one of my pet peeves when we served tuna and the reason we eventually took it off the menu. We lost too much money on it because people would send it back. ai’ll tell you how I cook it for myself and you. decide how long you want to do it
When my friend/almost daughter Annie came o he house one day she saw my bottle of commercial chile-limon seasoning made by the producers of the very popular and delicious hot sauce La Valentina and said: “There’s one in every Mexican household” and I must admit I use it all the time. I sprinkle it on tilapia when I want a fast inexpensive meal or on zucchini slices. It adds a lot of flavor and, because of the lime which is a natural preservative, it does not seem to have any preservatives. At least they are not listed on the bottle.At the restaurant, we got it from one of the mercados in Mexico and had it shipped.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Coat the salmon with the chile limon and sear it in a hot pan, about 40 second on each side. Put in the hot oven for 3 -4 minutes or to the desired degree of doneness. You ca also finish in the pan but you must watch it carefully.