Episode 110 - Gulf Coast Grill

Grilled Snapper “Zarandeado” with Serrano Salsa

Grilled Snapper “Zarandeado” with Serrano Salsa

Other Recipes from Planet Barbecue Episode 110 – Gulf Coast Grill

Filmed with guest, Alejandro Gutierrez

Mexican grill master, Alejandro Gutierrez, prepared this stunning grilled fish at my Barbecue University. I was so impressed, I invited Alejandro to be a guest on our Planet Barbecue TV show. The technique for butterflying the snapper (through the belly) is as unique as the Mexican spice rub and chipotle-spiked zarandeado sauce. So why is it called zarandeado? The term means “shaken” in Spanish—a reference to the rocking motion of the fishing boat—and the grill basket over the fire.

Serves: 4
Method: Direct grilling


Grilled Snapper “Zarandeado” with Serrano Salsa


  • 1 3-pound snapper, cleaned, butterflied, and deboned

For the rub:

  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt (sea or kosher)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

For the Zarandeado Salsa:

  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 to 3 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of the rub (see above)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

For the Serrano Salsa:

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • Coarse salt (sea or kosher)
  • 2 to 3 serrano peppers, thinly sliced crosswise
  • Juice of 1 lime, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For serving:

  • Small corn tortillas, toasted on the grill until crisp
  • Pickled red onions
  • 1 or 2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • Fresh cilantro

You’ll also need:

  • A fish grilling basket; a cast iron skillet; a molcajete and tejolote (optional)

Recipe Steps

1: Heat the grill to medium high. (Preferably, you’ll cook over a wood fire.)

2: Make the rub: Combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to mix. Set aside.

3: Make the Zarandeado Salsa: Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a cast iron skillet and warm directly in the embers or on the grill grate. Add the garlic, and cook until just beginning to color. (Do not allow it to brown.) Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

4: In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, chipotle chiles, a teaspoon of the prepared rub, and the soy sauce. Stir in the garlic and oil and whisk.

5: Make the Serrano Salsa: In a molcajete using a tejolote, grind the garlic with the salt. Add the serranos and continue to grind until a paste forms. Add the lime juice and extra virgin olive oil; stir until the mixture is emulsified, adding more lime juice or salt, if desired. The salsa should be very flavorful.

6: Position the snapper on the hinged fish basket, cut side up. Season the cut side of the snapper with the rub. Paint with the mayonnaise mixture, then close and secure the fish basket. Place the fish on the grill, cut side down. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes, then brush once more with the mayonnaise mixture. (There is no need to remove it from the basket.) Continue to grill, flipping the grill basket as needed, until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Remove from the basket and place the snapper on a platter. (Alternatively, flake the fish and arrange in a bowl or on a platter.)

7: To make a tostada, generously brush a toasted corn tortilla with the Zarandeado Salsa. Top with a few pieces of flaked fish and a tangle of pickled onions, then drizzle with the Serrano Salsa. Finish with a slice or two of avocado and a sprig of fresh cilantro.

Recipe Tips

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