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Grilled Red Snapper Zarandeado

Using this recipe, you can make zarandeado just like the kind found in Mexico

Zarandeado translates from Spanish a few different ways, but in this case it means “flipped,” because the dish is a marinated fish that is put in a grill basket and cooked halfway before getting turned. Your guests (and even yourself) will flip at how delicious this dish it.


For the marinade

  • 2 Ancho chiles
  • 2 Guajillo chiles
  • 1 Clove garlic, smashed
  • 6 Canned plum tomatoes, smashed by hand
  • 1.5 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Maggi sauce or Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Drops liquid smoke
  • Salt to taste

For the fish

  • 1 Cup zarandeado marinade
  • 4 Red snapper fillets, skin-on, 5-6 ounces each
  • 1 Small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 Cup cilantro leaves, washed, dried, and roughly chopped
  • 2 Limes, quartered


For the marinade

Stem and seed the chiles before tearing them into small pieces.

Toast them in a hot, dry skillet by pressing the pieces down with a metal spatula for 10-20 seconds per side. Transfer the pieces to a small stainless bowl and cover them with piping hot tap water, weighting them down with a saucer.

Soak the pieces for 20 minutes until softened. Transfer them to the bowl of your blender along with around half-a-cup of the soaking liquid and the remaining ingredients. Purée this until smooth and pass it through a fine mesh sieve into a small sauce pan.

Bring the marinade to a simmer over medium heat and cook for a couple minutes to marry the flavors.

Transfer to a bowl and cool completely. 

For the fish

Rinse the red snapper fillets and pat them dry with paper towels.

Score the flesh a few times with a sharp knife without piercing the skin, and smear on a good amount of the marinade, spreading it into the incisions with your fingers. Let the fillets marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so.

Heat your grill to medium-high and oil it well. Throw a handful of wood chips around the flame for smokiness, and grill the red snapper fillets skin-side down for around 4 minutes, before flipping once.

Cook for an additional 3 minutes and transfer to a warm platter.

Scatter the onions and cilantro evenly over the fish fillets and garnish with the lime wedges.