In keeping with the “dining alfresco with friends” theme for the fall, here is a sneak peek at a few more of my favorite outdoor dining experiences and recipes. Last weekend we took a quick trip to the beach with a few friends from New Orleans. When the temperatures dropped below 80 degrees on Saturday night, we knew it was time to expand the dinner table and bring more chairs out on the patio for an evening of outdoor dining.
As I arrived on the coast, my first stop was the fish market. I was hoping to locate whole redfish or red snapper but when I was told that the smallest snapper weighed in at 12 pounds, I knew that I had to settle for fillets of red snapper.
It would be easy to adapt the recipe for Huachinango a la Veracruzana for these fresh red snapper fillets.
This dish is a classic example of the cuisine of the southern coastal region of Eastern Mexico and has been called the signature dish of the state of Veracruz. It combines ingredients and cooking methods from Spain and from pre-colonial Mexico. The use of olives, capers, olive oil and tomatoes give a Mediterranean flavor to the dish, and demonstrate the Spanish influence. The lime juice and jalapeños say Mexican. The Mediterranean meets Mexico.
Traditionally, and to make a proper Huachinango a la Veracruzana, a whole red snapper is gutted and de-scaled and marinated in lime juice, salt, pepper, and garlic. A sauce is made of onions, garlic, tomato, jalapeños, olives, capers and herbs, and the fish is baked with the sauce until tender. The dish is traditionally served with small roasted potatoes and Mexican-style white rice. I like to add black beans to the white rice to create the simple combination known in parts of the Caribbean and Central America as “Moors and Christians.”
Then, I decided to be daring and wander across several continents and around the globe to produce an Asian style Noodle Salad with a limey peanut sauce and fresh crunchy vegetables to complement the flavors of the Snapper Veracruzana. What a vibrant burst of colors and exploding flavors. Chewy noodles, crunchy peanuts and peppers, and the perfectly balanced sweet and spicy peanut sauce. The biggest challenge I will have before dinner is controlling my urge to drink the peanut sauce for the noodles from the bowl. It is so yummy that it can be dangerous. Have fun with your food, get creative and draw inspiration from recent travels or local eating experiences. The best part about this dinner is that it can be made a couple of hours ahead. Marinate the fish and prepare it for baking, assemble the Asian noodle salad, and done!
Ahhhh, now I have more time to spend with friends on the porch feeling the sea breeze and star gazing while enjoying the aromas of our simmering fall feast. Happy weekend dining, wherever you are!
See recipes for Cold Rice Noodles with Peanut-Lime Chicken and Huachinango a la Veracruzana: Redfish or Snapper Veracruz by clicking the photos below: