Recipe of the Week!October 21, 2009
As promised, here is the first in my weekly series of easy and delicious recipes to make at home and impress your friends. Some of these will be my own, but some, like this one, will be authored by others.
If I could literally BE someone else, I would probably be Rick Bayless. His understanding of Mexican cuisine and culture is incredible, and it has given him the tools to create authentic and delectable dishes. I have been making recipes from two of his books lately, and each one is superb. But this one stands out as the best, at least so far. Total time is probably about 45 minutes, but actual active cooking time is only about 15 minutes. Now don’t get frightened by the amount of garlic; yes, you do need to really like garlic to enjoy this dish, but it’s not that overpowering, spicy garlic experience. The garlic is slow-cooked, so it becomes sweet and nutty. Your mouth will certainly taste like garlic for a while, but in a good way – trust me!
His original recipe calls for shrimp, but I have only made it with cod and tilapia (the cod was better). Use your favorite fish – just make sure you know how long it needs to cook. Enjoy!
Pescado al Mojo de Ajo (Fish in Garlic Bath)
From chef Rick Bayless
Serves 4 generously
¾ cup peeled whole garlic cloves (about 2 large heads)
1 cup good-quality oil, preferably extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp. salt
2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, seeded and cut into thin strips
4 fish filets (cod, tilapia, snapper), about 4-6 oz. each
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
To make mojo de ajo
Either chop garlic with a sharp knife into 1/8-inch bits or drop cloves through feed tube of a running food processor and process until pieces are roughly 1/8 inch. You should have about ½ cup chopped garlic.
Scoop into a small (1-quart) saucepan, measure in oil (use all of it for even cooking) and ½ teaspoon salt, and set over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally as mixture comes barely to a simmer (there should be just a hint of movement on the surface of the oil). Adjust the heat to very lowest possible setting to keep mixture at that very gentle simmer (bubbles will rise in the pot like mineral water).
Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is a soft and pale golden (the color of light brown sugar), about 30 minutes (the slower the cooking, the sweeter the garlic).
Squeeze juice of 1 of the limes into the pan and simmer until most of the juice has evaporated or been absorbed into the garlic, about 5 minutes. Stir in chiles, then taste the mojo de ajo and add a little more salt to taste.
Keep pan over low heat, so garlic will be warm when fish is ready. Cut remaining limes into wedges, scoop into a serving bowl and set on the table.
To make fish
Over medium-high heat, set a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet and spoon in 1½ tablespoons of oil (but not the garlic) from the mojo. Add fish filets to the skillet, cook about 3-5 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the filet) until they are just cooked through. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Plate filets; use a slotted spoon to scoop out the warm bits of garlic and chiles from the mojo pan, and douse them over the fish. (You may have as much as 1/3 cup of the oil leftover, for which you’ll be grateful — it’s wonderful for sautéeing practically anything).
If you’re a garlic lover, you’re about to have the treat of your life. Serve with lime wedges to add sparkle.