Pescado Villaclarense

As with any island nation, fish is a popular ingredient in Cuba. Red snapper is a fish I saw mentioned regularly in the cookbooks I’ve been perusing this month.  In fact, my mother wanted me to make a stuffed red snapper recipe, which looks absolutely delicious.  However, it would also be very expensive after buying a whole snapper plus the 2 lbs. of shrimp and 2 lobsters used to stuff it!  Not to mention that I’d need to invite some guests to help eat it, though that’s not usually a problem :)

The recipe I decided to try recommends grouper instead of snapper. Pescado Villaclarense is a fish fillet encrusted with almond and herb paste, sauteed to a crispy golden brown, but moist and flaky on the inside.

Pescado Villaclarense
1/3 c. onion, chopped roughly
2 cloves garlic
black pepper, a few grinds
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/3 c. almonds, toasted
2 tsp. red wine

Blend the above ingredients in a food processor to form a paste. Pat 2 grouper fillets dry with a paper towel. Spread the almond paste over both sides of grouper fillets, and wrap them in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.  Melt 1 Tbsp. olive oil plus 1 Tbsp. butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Unwrap and sprinkle fish fillets with paprika, salt and pepper. Fry the fish in the pan until the fish flakes easily and is nicely golden brown on both sides, turning gently to avoid losing the crust. Serve with lemon or lime wedges.

Adapted from Cuba Cocina! by Joyce LaFray

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