Penny De Los Santos
Pescado Rodrigo is a beloved dish in Mexico City, and I make it at least a couple of times a month. Fresh tilapia or other mild white fish, seared until crispy, then drizzled with a chunky citrus sauce, is the seafood to stuff into corn tortillas for tacos. This recipe comes from the Bellinghausen, a Mexico City restaurant established in 1915 and cherished by many families, including ours. Its classic hacienda style, complete with tiles and a working fountain, is so dignified that my sisters and I used to dress to the nines to eat there on Sundays. The menu never changes; it doesn't need to.
The sauce can be made up to 24 hours ahead, kept covered and refrigerated. Mix well before using.
- 1/2 Cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts only
- 1/2 Cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 1/4 Cup lime juice
- 1/4 Cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons seeded (if desired) and chopped jalapeño or serrano chile, or to taste
- 1 Tablespoon Maggi sauce or soy sauce
- Kosher or coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Six 6-ounce tilapia fillets, or other mild white fish fillets, such as sea bass, grouper, red snapper, or rockfish
- All-purpose flour, for coating the fish
- Vegetable oil, for frying the fish
- 12 corn tortillas, warmed
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the scallions, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, jalapeño, and Maggi sauce, and stir to mix well. Set aside for at least 15 minutes. Season with salt, to taste.
Season the fish fillets with the salt and pepper, to taste. Spread some flour on a large plate and coat each fillet thoroughly on both sides.
Heat ¼-inch vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, and line a baking sheet with paper towels.
Add the fish in batches to avoid crowding, and sear until thoroughly browned on the bottom, for about 3 minutes. (Don't fiddle with the fillets; let them brown completely so they release easily from the pan.)
Turn and sear for about 3 minutes on the second side. (The fish is ready when the thickest part is cooked through and it flakes easily with a fork.) Put the fish on the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
Transfer the fish to a platter and pour the sauce on top. (Or you can do as I do and flake the fish and serve it drizzled with the sauce, ready to make tacos.) Serve with the corn tortillas.