25 August 2009

The Food and Life of Oaxaca

I spent some time in Oaxaca and it is truly a magical place. I also love watching Top Chef and so I was sucked in to the Top Chef Masters. The winner was Rick Bayless who has been trying for years to elevate the cuisine of Mexico to the same pantheon as French or Italian cooking.

Bayless is a big fan of The Food and Life of Oaxaca by Zarela Martinez. He says that eating in Oaxaca, “is the perfect act of celebration.”

It is a complex cuisine, in Oaxaca you can’t make water without 12 ingredients! There are many items that you may need to get from a specialty store or make yourself. Martinez offers a wonderful bibliography and some great stores to get unique ingredients.

If you have ever thought you needed to eat more fish, but just really didn’t know what to do with it, this is a recipe for you. The unctuous sauce makes this baked fish wonderfully spicy and juicy.

Pescado Estilo el Estero
Whole Baked Fish Estero-Style

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 canned chipotle chile en adobo, minced
One whole, 2 –pound sea bass, striped bass, or red snapper, cleaned and scaled, gills removed.
1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Combine the mayonnaise, chipotle chile, and garlic in a small bowl. With a pastry brush or icing spatula, spread the mixture all over the fish, inside and outside. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Place on a baking pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until just barely opaque at the thickest part of the fish.

Serve this with a nice side salad, a guacamole, or a spicy rice salads. It will definitely be a perfect celebration.

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