Good Old-Fashioned Mexican Fish Fry

Summer weekends were made for cooking outdoors, especially 3-day weekends.  Whether you're cooking on a fancy gas grill or over a fogata (bonfire), food cooked outdoors, over an open flame just tastes better.  While traditional grilling fare might be hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and carne asada, I've got something that I think you're really going to like...Pescado Frito (fried fish), cooked al fresco.

A crispy, golden fish that needs nothing more than a little salt and pepper and a squeeze of lime juice. 


All you need is an open flame and a cast iron wok or skillet.  Or if you're lucky and happen to live in Mexico, you can have a disco made from recycled tractor parts. (Ask your local welder or tractor repairman for details.) 

You'll also need some manteca (lard) or vegetable shortening to fry the fish in.  You could use vegetable oil, but the manteca really makes for a more flavorful fish. 

As for what kind of fish to fry, that is entirely up to you.  We prefer to use Robalo or Mojarra, but any whole fish will do.  My mom loved to fry catfish and trout.  Just make sure that your fish has been cleaned, inside and out.  Then rinse thoroughly and dry completely with paper towels.  (The last thing you want to do is drop a wet fish into boiling lard.)  

The following recipe is enough to feed a large crowd.  This is exactly how much we prepared to feed the entire family during our Semana Santa (Holy Week) Camping Trip at El Rancho.  Adjust the recipe to your individual needs.  Just keep in mind how many people you will be cooking for and the size of the fish you'll be frying.  With smaller fish, you'll need at least one per person, while a larger fish will feed two, three or even four people.   


Pescado Frito

Ingredients:
  • 1 Kilo (2 pounds) Manteca or Vegetable Shortening
  • 10 to 12 mojarras or robalo (fish)

Directions:
Over medium-high flame, heat the disco or cast iron wok/skillet for about 5 minutes.

Disco en Llamas


Carefully add the manteca and let it melt completely.

Manteca Melting


Very gently, lay the fish in the hot manteca (lard).  No more than 3 fish at a time, so that they can cook evenly.  Let the fish cook for about five minutes or until the underside has turned a deep golden brown.  Very carefully turn the fish over and continue to cook until golden brown on the other side.

Fish Fry


Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Serve with lime wedges.  Enjoy!!! 

Pescado Frito


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21 comments

  1. This looks sooo good and I am so jealous of your huge cast iron skillet!!!!

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  2. Totally want your iron skillet! I love fried fish. Can the fish be fried in oil instead of shortening? Will it make a big difference?

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  3. HI Ericka!  Yes you can use oil instead of shortening.  When I make fried fish on the stovetop, I use vegetable oil to fry it in.  But when cooking outdoors and for special occasions, the lard adds a little more flavor. :) 

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  4. I wish I had one of those skillets and the outdoor grill!!!!!  Mmmm!  You fish looks good!  

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  5. Leslie, that is stunning. I want to cook like that!!! Like everyone said, the outdoor grill and skillet is perfection!

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  6. ooh, we have one of those big skillets, now I'm gonna try to fry some fish. I have a question though, the manteca, are you using pork fat or is it like vegetable shortening? We make our own pork lard for tamales and stuff, this would be a good way to use some of it up! :)

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  7. my husband would love that!

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  8. This reminds me so much of my 'Buelita! She used to cook the most delicious gallina y fiambre outside on special occasions (bdays, etc.), and she had a big disco like that.

    Thank you for bringing back such a great memory!

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  9. i love these outdoors pics!

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  10. Hi Mo!  To answer your question, YES, manteca is Pork Lard!  Your going to love fish fried in manteca. :)

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  11. My mouth is watering!

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  12. J Olivarez-MazoneJuly 2, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    This is the way we have always done fish frys. When I was in highschool, I welded my own disco.

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  13. yummy !!! que rico!!!

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  14. this is the only time of year that i'd allow myself to eat fried fish---it's so good that I can get addicted to it! que rico! 

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  15. Fried fish is so good---living in Florida there is a lot of fresh fish available. Thanks for sharing!

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  16. I love how certain foods evoke happy memories! :)  

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  17. How cool that you welded your own disco! :)

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  18. sigh moan droolll!!! I want some. This is the second time I have read about this tonight and now Im going to be dying for it.

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  19. ok thanks, these boys confuse me sometimes they call the veg. shortening Manteca also!

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  20. Yum! Fish fried this way is sooooo good! We were in San Luis Potosi for my sister's Quinceañera, and the day after, my uncle, who lives in the port of Tampico, Tamps, brought fresh fish and fried it up for us just like this. Oh, memories!

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  21. LeslierebeccatalbotDecember 29, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    i showed this to my husband who is from slp matehaula and he said he was hungry for fish lol..

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