Pescado a la Talla

Recipe adapted from Johnny Hernandez, El Machito, San Antonio, TX
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Pescado a la Talla

Recipe adapted from Johnny Hernandez, El Machito, San Antonio, TX

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes (plus 30 minute marinating time)

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Total Time: 26 minutes (plus 30 minute marinating time)


10 dried Guajillo chiles, seeded, stems removed

1 white onion, thinly sliced

5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

Leaves from 4 thyme sprigs

Leaves from 4 oregano sprigs 

1 bay leaf

4 whole cloves

2½ cups water

2 ounces achiote paste


Four 6-ounce skin-on red snapper filets

2 limes, cut into wedges


1. In a large cast iron skillet over low heat, lightly toast the chiles until they are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer peppers to a large bowl and set aside.

2. Add the onions to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high. Sauté for 10 minutes or until the onions have lightly caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer onions and garlic to the bowl with the peppers.

3. In a 3-quart sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine the peppers, onions, garlic, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, cloves and water and simmer until the peppers are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool. Remove and discard bay leaf.

4. Transfer to a blender, add the achiote paste and pulse until puréed. Season to taste with salt, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, discarding solids.

5. Season the snapper filets on both sides with salt. Put fish in a medium bowl and add ½ cup of the chile sauce. Toss to coat and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

6. Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat (a 9-inch cast iron skillet can also be used on the stovetop). Grill the fish, skin side down, until charred, about 4 minutes. Gently flip and grill for an additional 2 to 3 minutes on the second side.

7. Transfer the filets to 4 plates and serve with lime wedges and remaining chile sauce.

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