The typical fish used by Dominicans in this dish is usually red snapper or mere (mero). Red snapper can be found in special fish markets around here but can be very expensive. I made this recipe with fresh haddock one day (really common fish around here and really inexpensive to buy) and have been using it since! Although haddock is a bland fish, this recipe packs alot of flavor and the sauce just makes the fish heavenly and tasty!
What I love about using haddock fillets is that they are usually boneless, therefore, it’s safer to eat than fish with the bone in. I remember when I was a little girl, my Grandpa and my mom never let me eat fish without a thorough inspection (which usually left the fish mushy) for bones.
If you like fish and coconuts, you can’t go wrong with this recipe!
To make this dish, you will need the following ingredients:
2 lbs Fresh Haddock (skinless, may substitute for another kind of light or red fish)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves
1 small Red Onion
1 Small Red Bell Pepper (1/2 of a large one)
1 Small Green Bell Pepper (1/2 of a large one)
1 Can of Coconut Milk (approx 13.5 oz)
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 tbsp tomato paste
First, rinse the fish with some cold water, then place on a cutting board. I usually buy the fillets and cut them myself, but some markets sell them cut already.
Cut each fillet into 3 pieces (4 if you want smaller pieces).
Place the fillets into a wide bowl to start seasoning it. First, add HALF (1/2 tsp) of the salt,
Then add HALF (about 1/4 tsp) of the black pepper,
Then sprinkle HALF of the oregano (1/2 tsp) over the fish,
Then sprinkle HALF of the coriander (1/2 tsp) over the fish,
Now FLIP the fish, and sprinkle the other half of the spices (1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp of oregano and 1/2 tsp coriander) onto the unseasoned side of the fish.
Once both sides are nice and seasoned, squeeze the lime juice over the fillets.
Very gently flip the fish to soak the fillets with the lemon juice and incorporate the seasoning better.
Now let the fish rest for atleast 15 – 20 minutes. It is not necessary to marinate overnight, I usually just let it hang out for an hour at most.
To cook the fish, add the oil to a large pan (I usually use olive oil because it’s better for you, but you may use vegetable oil if you prefer). Put the heat on high temperature and let it get nice and hot, then add the fillets in to sear them. (Save the marinade in the bowl for later use)
Let them cook for about 4 or 5 minutes. While the fish is cooking, start prepping the vegetables for the sauce. Slice the onion (I like to use red onions for this dish, but white onions work fine too),
Slice the peppers as well, I prefer to slice them as opposed to finely chopping them. Presentation wise, I think it looks much better!
After about 5 minutes, flip the fish. We are not looking to thoroughly cook the fish, this is just to get a nice sear on the fillets and develop some flavor for the base of the sauce.
Once all of the fillets have been flipped, let them cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Remove the fish from the skillet (put them on a nice wide plate) and set them aside
Lower the heat on the pan to a medium temperature, then add the chopped garlic.
Then add the onions to the pan,
Let the onions and garlic cook for a couple of minutes, if the pan seems dry, add a splash of water (about 2 tbsp) to help them cook faster. After a couple of minutes, add the peppers and the left over marinade to the pan.
Let the vegetables cook for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato paste and stir.
Then add the coconut milk (make sure to shake the can well), you may use fresh coconut milk if you find fresh coconuts and have the time to make it yourself.
Stir well, until everything is well incorporated, let it cook for about 5 minutes.
Chop the cilantro, then add it to the pan (leave the cilantro for last because it will turn black if you cook it for a really long time).
After adding the cilantro, stir well and add the fish to the sauce.
Once the fish is the sauce DO NOT stir so they don’t break, with a spoon, take the sauce and spoon it over the fish and cover them. You may shake the pan as well.
Once the fish is covered with sauce, cover the pan and lower the heat to medium low and let the fish simmer in the sauce for about 15 minutes. Then uncover, and do a taste test. Add more salt if you feel it’s necessary.
Serve with a nice side of rice and pigeon peas (or whatever you prefer)! Yum!