Last week, talking to my mother, I told her that this month my blog was dedicated to Panamanian cuisine to celebrate “El mes de la Patria”. She said that I have to make “Pescado relleno” (stuffed fish), a typical dish from the province of Colon. And as I can’t say no to my mother, here’s the fish!
However, I not pleased with the photographs; today in Madrid we had a rainy and gray day, so at 6 pm there was no light outside and I had to take the pictures inside. I like natural light and the illumination in my kitchen is really not photographable friendly, not at night at least.
But as the fish was delicious and so easy to make, I’m sure I’ll do it again soon, and this time it would be earlier in the day and with better light so I can change these pictures and post others that make justice to it.
I also have to say that I used Gilt-head bream (dorada) instead of shade-fish (corvina) or red porgy (pargo) which are much commonly use in Panama to make this dish. I think that’s why I had to put it in the oven after deep frying it (30 minutes at 170 º C) because it was still a bit raw inside (it was chubby).
Some curious facts about the province of Colon are that the capital of the province is the city of Colón, founded by Americans in 1850 as the Atlantic terminus of the Panama Railroad, then under construction to meet the gold rush demand for a fast route to California. Two Notable Colonites are John McCain, U.S. politician, born in the U.S. Navy hospital at the Coco Solo submarine base, and Rod Carew, Major League Baseball player, inducted in 1991 to the Baseball Hall of Fame and selected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
Colonite style stuffed fish
- 1 kg (2 pounds) of shade-fish, red porgy or any other fish of your choice
- 2 lemons (juice)
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 teaspoons curry
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2 green peppers
- ½ cup parsley
- ½ cup chives
- 2 leaves of coriander (or cilantro)
- 1 tablespoon oregano (preferably fresh)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Hot sauce (to taste)
It is essential that all the ingredients are chopped very finely, but not liquefy because we have to be able to see and taste the bits.
Clean the fish inside and out, make horizontal cuts on both sides. Place the fish in a large bowl and bathe with the lemon juice; add salt, pepper, vinegar, curry, garlic and oregano … rub it thoroughly with this sauce, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand for several hours in the fridge.
To make the stuffing, in another bowl toss the onion, pepper, parsley, chives, coriander and crushed garlic, season with a little bit of curry, salt, pepper, hot sauce and oregano.
Mix everything very well. I gave it a couple of turns in the grinder so that the pieces were a little bit smaller and the mixture a little more compact. This will make it easier to put it inside the fish.
When we are ready to deep fry the fish, take it out of the fridge and fill the cuts we have made in the sides with the herb mixture and also put some stuffing inside the fish.
Put flour on a large dish and seasoned with a bit of curry, salt and pepper. Cover the fish with it, shake off excess and fry in a skillet or large pan with hot oil until golden brown on both sides.*
Drain the excess oil on paper towels and serve hot. As an accompaniment, it is best to take it along with patacones (fried plantains), coconut rice (on its way!) or cassava.
*If you see that it is still a bit raw inside, you can pop it in oven before bringing to the table.