Fish Cooked in Cilantro

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This dish seems to call for an excessive amount of cilantro, but it cooks down to practically nothing and the flavor is not as strong as one would think-except, of course, for those who can’t abide cilantro! The chile, onion, and cilantro flavors combined with the fiery juice from the can of chiles make for a unique sauce. The friends in whose house I first tried this unusual fish dish also added large, unpeeled shrimps to the sauce. Although they did not know the origin of the recipe, they had found it in a charming little book printed privately in Mexico City: Herbs for Pot and Body by Evelyn Bourchier and José Roldan Parrodi.

NotesThis dish is also delicious cold, if there is any left over.

Serves6 as a first course

Cooking Methodbaking



Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Courseappetizer

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free



Taste and Texturefruity, herby, light, savory, spiced


  • A 3-to 3½-pound (1.35 to 1.575 kg) red snapper
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1½ cups (375 ml) thinly sliced white onions
  • 1/3 cup (85 ml) fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup (85 ml) olive oil
  • 3 jalapeño chiles en escabeche
  • 3 tablespoons juice from the chile can
  • 2 cups (500 ml) roughly chopped cilantro


  1. Have the fish cleaned, leaving the head and tail on.

  2. Prick the fish well on both sides with a coarse-tined fork, and rub it with the salt and pepper. Place the fish onto a baking dish with half the onions underneath and the rest on top. Pour the lime juice over it and set it aside for about 1 hour, turning it over once during that time.

  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

  4. Cover the dish and bake the fish for about 15 minutes on each side.

  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue cooking the fish, covered, until it is just cooked, basting it from time to time with the juices in the dish-about 20 minutes.


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