Thursday, February 28, 2019

Fish in Ajillo Sauce -- Inspired by Vacations

Over the Christmas break in December, we went to Los Cabos, Mexico. A mini reunion of of some of our college friends from million years back. If I think of it, friends = family for us now.

Anyway, only 4 families could join this time. But don't think that was a small number!! The four families made us 16 people in all, and this was more than enough to turn the service folks crazy at the resort we stayed in. If there were more of us, there is a fair chance that we would be banned from the resort in future.

This was the first time we were going to an all-inclusive resort. So far, we had avoided that wonderful thing, thinking it will be boring and give us an insulated view of the country. That is true but when going in a large group with kids of myriad ages, there is nothing better than an "all-inclusive-resort". I will tell you why.

The first thing you have to understand is, when you have been brought up in a developing country, like me, the word "FREE" comes with a lot of magic.
Not "born to be free" or free-dom or such.
More like " Buy 1 Get 1 Free". Or better still -- "Free Food". That raises our dopamine level and makes our heart race faster than if #FarhanAkhtar was in town.
I don't know about yours, but my mom-in-law gets immense pleasure in picking up free sachets of ketchup at any place that has them and my Dad brings home tea-bags and sachets of sugar from every hotel we stay in. There was time, when I had no idea that you could buy toothpicks at the store. We always got them from the restaurant we ate at and stored them as precious possessions.
The point is we love anything that is "FREE". Many years back, when we were still new to this country and scratching our heads at -- 1% Fat Milk, 2% Fat Milk or Whole Milk, my Baba had excitedly picked up the Fat-Free Milk on basis of the argument that this had "free fat" and why would one refuse milk that has "free fat" added to it!!!

So in these #allinclusive hotel/resort deals, you pay upfront and then you don't have to glance at the cheque, end of each meal. Which to us meant -- the food is practically FREE!!!
Yehhhh!! 💃🤸‍♀️🤜🤛
And if anything is FREE, we make sure that we get lots of it. Much more than we need. Even if we don't need. .
"Take it na, it's free anyway"!!! .
That is ingrained in our DNA..So we ate like gluttons at every meal. As if we had arrived at the land of plenty from some famine struck place where we were deprived of food and drinks. That the food was delicious and the menu was tantalizing made it worse.

All we did was chat, eat and laze by the pool. One day we did venture out and take a boat ride on the Pacific but  soon after came back and plopped down at one more restaurant. Spoiled by choices that the restaurants had to offer, we had breakfast buffet of tacos and omelettes at #LaNao, garlic shrimp, chicken consomme, flan for lunch at #Cilantro, sushi and sashimi #Tatzuna for dinner, all supplemented by gorgeous cocktails and desserts.
I am fervently hoping that for every glutton like us, they have always-on-diet guests who eat modestly and thus keep this business model ticking. .

At all of the restaurants that we dined at, one of the dishes I loved was the "Catch of the Day in ajillo sauce". Ajillo sauce I learned later was a garlic sauce that comprised of nothing but butter, lots of garlic, Guajillo chiles and lemon juice. It was a sauce that would not blow your mind off because blowing your mind off is not what you should really want.  Instead this will calm your mind and rest to peace any doubts you ever had about your past or future. You will totally be in the moment because 2019 is all about Power of Now.

I scoured several recipes to get the dish closest to what I had tasted. Finally I combined a few of them to arrive at this one. I think frying the slices of garlic and then pounding the rest of it is a great idea. Also I didn't have Guajillo Chilies but it seemed our very own Dry Red Chili would do well in this dish, so I added those. This has become a favorite fish dish of ours and I am sure you will love it too.

Fish in Ajillo Sauce


Buy Tilapia Fillet. If You have got the bigger ones, I would suggest to cut it into two pieces along the length. I got the Tilapia Loins and they were slimmer than the filet.
Note: Other fish fillet like Cod, Sea Bass will also work well

This recipe serves 4 and I cooked with 4 Tilapia loins

Get a whole head of garlic, about say 12 pods. Garlic plays a important role in this dish so don't skimp.

4 Cloves of Garlic -- Slice thin. These will be fried

Pound in a mortar
8 Cloves of Garlic
2 Dry Red Chili

Start Cooking

1. Rinse and pat dry the fillet.

2. Season with salt and generous helping of fresh crushed black pepper on both sides.  Dust the filet with a sprinkle of flour.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Warm 4 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the slices of garlic and fry until golden. Take the fried garlic out with a slotted spoon and keep aside.

4. Now to that garlic flavored Olive oil add some more Olive oil and warm. Note: You can also add butter instead of olive oil.
Add 1/4th cup of finely chopped onion
Then add
Crushed Garlic(8 Cloves) + 2 Dry Red Chili.

5. Once it sizzles add the tilapia fillets. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until pale golden and cooked through.

6. Next goes in 1 tbsp of lime juice, splash of water or cooking wine (very little), zest of half-a-lemon and salt to taste.

7. When the liquid bubbles add 1/4th Cup of Milk

8. Let it simmer at low-medium heat for 6-8 minutes. You will see the sauce turn a pale yellow with oil surfacing.

9. Add some parsley or dhonepata . Taste for seasoning and adjust salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.

10. Just before finishing the dish, you can add 1-2 tbsp of Light Cream. If I don't have any at home, I skip it.

11. Add the fried slices of garlic and serve with rice.

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  1. Will try to make this at home and see how it turns out

  2. There is various type of meal. I'm just confused what make to this Sunday :P. Well, Surely gonna try Trujillo sauce.


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