Bounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea on its eastern seaboard and the Pacific Ocean on its western side, Mexico is well placed to make the most of its local seafood bounty. Las delicias del mar — delights from the sea!
Throughout the country, fish stalls in local markets are piled high with a multitude of pescados y mariscos — fish and shellfish — sourced by Mexico’s legions of fishermen – in addition to grocery stores and supermarkets that are stocked with seafood delights from further flung parts of the globe.
Enjoyed year round, seafood consumption in Mexico definitely however sees a marked spike during the months of March and April, when traditional Lent and Easter religious observance of eating meals without meat contributes to a considerable increase in the amount of seafood that is consumed.
There are said to be literally a thousand plus different species of fish and shellfish to be found in Mexican coastal waters – in addition to which, many Mexicans also include a variety of freshwater fish species in their diets – many of which find their way into a bewildering array of mouth-watering empanada, soup, stew, tamale, ceviche, taco and tostada recipes, to name but a few. From more formal dining in the country’s larger cities to bustling, colourful rural markets, to snack-selling street stalls in dusty backwater towns, you are never far from some taste-bud tantalising seafood when on the road in Mexico.
From Abulón (abalone), prepared fresh with other fish or shellfish to make a campechana, a mixed seafood cocktail – to Sierra (kingfish), a firm-fleshed fish commonly prepared en escabeche (marinated in oil, vinegar and spices) – from Bonito (either striped, Pacific or Atlantic bonito) simply grilled and maybe served with a salad, rice, beans and tortillas – to Lenguado (flounder), often eaten as a rolled fillet stuffed with other seafood (filete relleno), or breaded and fried (filete empanizado) – and Camarón (shrimp) which are probably Mexico’s most popular and versatile shellfish; sold fresh or dried (whole or powdered - powdered shrimp is a common seasoning used in many soup recipes).
Some other classic Mexican seafood recipes to be regularly found on a restaurant’s menu del dia include Jalapenos Rellenos con Pescado Ahumado y Queso al Horno (baked jalapeno peppers stuffed with smoked fish and cheese), Pescado en Escabeche (marinated fish steaks), Albondigas de Pescado (fish meatballs) and Chilpachole (a spicy seafood soup made with shrimp or crab).
However, for a quintessential taste of Tierra Azteca, and the best bang for your pesos, nothing can really beat a visit to some street side food vendors – perhaps at a local market or at a busy bus or train station – to enjoy a simple dish of lip-puckering ‘taste-of-the-sea’ ceviche, made with some Huachinango (red snapper) fillets, followed by one or three (or more!) freshly prepared fish tacos – quick fried bite size pieces of lightly battered Cabrilla (bass), served along with chopped avocado, some shredded lettuce or cabbage, a dollop of crema (Mexican-style sour cream), maybe some salsa and a few sliced jalapeno peppers, topped off with a generous sprinkling of chopped cilantro, a large squeeze of lime juice, and all encased in a warm floury tortilla. Heaven in your hand!
Why not try for a taste of Mexico this month and tuck into some fish tacos for tea with one of these Fish Is The Dish recipes: