A smoke cloud of nostalgia hit me as the marinated fish sizzled on the grill. The pungent smell of charring cilantro leaves buoyed me back four years to the peaceful patio sprawled behind Casa Romero.
It was the day before our wedding, and I found myself grilling up the crudely filleted fish caught by the members of my bachelor party that morning. My fiance, myself, and the closest of our friends and family had descended upon this tranquil village on the outskirts of Akumal, Mexico to relax, enjoy the tropical sun, and celebrate our nuptials. As our loved ones milled about the villa and relaxed in the pool, slowly sipping frosty margaritas and bottles of Pacifico, I shifted the tender, flaking chunks of white flesh around the grill.
I had dressed the fish simply. The salt, pepper and chili powder had started to sink into the flakes of meat, and the torn chunks of cilantro had begun to wilt and brown with the heat of the grill, sending wisps of that same sweet and herbaceous pungency about the poolside. The mouth-watering aroma and the novelty of the fresh catch began drawing a crowd, and as my hungry relations drew closer to the hot grill in the tropical heat, I found myself sinking into a state of love-induced zen. The stress of the wedding, of responsibility, of specific complications and confusions, all seemed to float away with that sweet smoke on the pleasant Caribbean breeze.
I was brought back to reality when Krystle – my beautiful wife of nearly four years – handed me a bottle of Pacifico, freshly plucked from the fridge and glistening with the juice of the lime wedge she had stuffed into the open neck of the bottle.
“How’s the fish? Is it almost ready?”
I gratefully accepted the cold brew, and smiled up at her. “The fish is perfect.”
Ingredients for drunken fish tacos, which I served with my Jicama and Grilled Corn Salsa:
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- zest of 2 limes
- juice of two limes
- 2 tbsp tequila
- 1 tbsp chopped chipotle pepper in adobo
- 1.5 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 tbsp agave
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
- 8 oz fresh salmon
- 8 oz fresh rock cod
- tortillas of your choice
Mix all of the ingredients (except the fish) together in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Place the fish in a large ziploc bag, and pour the marinade evenly over the fillets.
Squish the bag around to make sure the meat is coated evenly, and place the bag in the refrigerator to marinate for up to an hour.
Preheat the grill to medium-high, and clean the grates thoroughly before apply a light coating of grill spray.
Grill the fish skin side down for four minutes, and then flip it once, and grill for an additional four minutes, until the flesh is no longer translucent.
You could flake the fish, and serve it in flour tortillas with jicama salsa, or serve the fish whole over rice.
Either way, make sure to serve it with an extra sprinkle of fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and – of course – a cold beer.