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Pescado Adobado en Hojas de Maiz
(recipe from Authentic Mexican, Rick Bayless, Morrow © 1987 )

I've seen them in the frenetic Friday toluca market every time I've been there: pieces of catfish, carp or little, minnowlike charales, bathed with a sharp red-chile sauce, packed into several layers of husk, and turned on a griddle until charred. The picante flavors of the fish and the smoky overtones from the blackened husks are delicious.

For the recipe that follows, I've taken this humble fish snack (found predominately in Central Mexico and Michocan) and turned it into a dish to serve at the table. It is quite an attractive presentation and a delicious blend of uncommon flavors. I call for the traditional taco garnishes----fresh coriander (cilantro) and onion---because I serve the dish with hot corn tortillas and encourage each person to make tacos with the tasty strips of fish. Accompany it with Pueblan Rice and set out a big Mixed Vegetable Salad to start, if you want. Pecan Pie with raw Sugar is good for dessert; beer, Mexican Sangria or Sparkling Limeade are my choices for beverage.


YIELD: 6 servings for a light meal with substantial accompaniments

  • 1/2 8-ounce package cornhusks
  • 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless meaty fish fillets like cod or catfish
  • 2/3 cup (2/3 recipe) Red-Chile Marinade (Adobo)
  • Salt as desired
  • 3/4 cup medium to finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), plus 6 sprigs for garnish
  • 2 large limes, quartered

1. Soaking the husks and marinating the fish. Put the cornhusks to soak in boiling water as directed on page 177. Cut the fish into 3-inch sticks that are 1/2 inch wide. Place in a non-corrosive bowl, measure in 6 tablespoons of the adobo paste and mix gently but thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

2. The fish-filled cornhusks packages. Choose the 18 largest cornhusks: They should be 6 inches across on their widest end; if any fall short, two may be laid together, overlapping at least 2 inches. From the extra cornhusks, tear off twenty-four 1/4 inch-wide strips and tie them together in pairs, making 12 long ones. Divide the fish into 6 equal portions.

To form the packages, spread 1 teaspoon of adobo paste over 2 x 3-inch area on the wide end of a husk. Lay half of one portion of fish in a single layer over the adobo-covered part of the husk. Lightly sprinkle with salt and top with the remaining half-portion of fish. Lightly salt again, then spread with a teaspoon of adobo paste. Bring the uncovered sides of the husk up around the fish, tucking one under the other. Fold the unfilled, narrow end of the husk up over the filled portion, then flip the package over onto the wide end of another husk (open-end toward the center). Wrap the long sides of the new husk up around the package, overlapping them. Fold the narrow, un-filled portion of the husk up over the filled part, then flip the package over onto the wide end of yet another husk and wrap the package again. Lay the finished package flap-side down and tie it twice around its width with 2 of the cornhusk strips. Form the rest of the fish-filled packages in the same manner

TRADITIONAL VARIATIONS
Shrimp Adobados: Peel 1 pound medium-to-large shrimp segments, leaving the last shell segments and tails in place; devein them. Mix the shrimp with 1/3 cup adobo paste, cover and refrigerate for several hours. Just before serving, stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. Place in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Slide under a preheated broiler for a couple of minutes, turn the shrimp and broil several minutes longer.


  

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