Published in the Pacific Pearl January 2020 issue
Everybody who comes to Mazatlan wants to try our local fresh seafood and fish. A trip to the “Pearl of the Pacific” isn’t complete if you haven’t had a ceviche and a cold Pacifico beer. If you’ve been to Mazatlan a couple of times, you have probably discovered which seafood flavors you like and dislike (that’s ok, I’m not judging!). But what happens if you go to a local Marisquería (seafood restaurant), there is no English menu and the waiters only speak Spanish? Have you ever wondered about the options on the menu that you have no clue what they are? And because you don’t know what they are, you never order it? Flavor Teller comes to the rescue to break through those language barriers and decipher the local favorites.
Chicharron de pescado
Chicharron in any other situation means pork rinds. However on the menu of a seafood restaurant in Mazatlan, it refers to crunchy fried fish chunks. The story goes that Chicharron de Pescado was brought in by Peruvian sailors who arrived to the port in the 1930’s. You could easily confuse this dish with “Fish and chips”, but the cubes of white fish (sole or pufferfish) only have a flour coating before being fried. So there’s no egg or beer batter. You can order it as a main course, but it’s also the perfect appetizer to share.
Orden de Jaiba
This overlooked appetizer is very simple, yet that is its strength. It’s boiled crab meat that’s shredded and served with chopped red onion and cucumber. Then the fun starts: you assemble your own tostadas! What do you do? Get a Tostada (crunchy tortilla), cover it with mayonnaise and put a spoonful of jaiba, onion and cucumber on top. It’s a very mild flavor and kids love it (and adults too!).
You shouldn’t miss Tacos gobernador, because this scrumptious shrimp dish has a flavorful history. It’s common knowledge that Tacos gobernador were invented at Los Arcos restaurant back in the early 2000’s. The Sinaloa state governor came to Mazatlan and the restaurant owner wanted to impress his distinguished customer. His chef creates a shrimp taco with bell pepper, onion and melted Chihuahua cheese. The governor loved this nameless dish so much, that it was baptized Governor tacos.
If you thought barbecuing was just for meat, you haven’t tried Pescado Zarandeado on the Mexican west coast. A snapper is split in half from head to tail and place open-faced on a special grill rack. It’s marinated with a lime, garlic, mayonnaise and mustard mixture and topped with onion, bell pepper and tomatoe. Then it’s grilled over a charcoal fire for about 15 minutes. Pescado Zarandeado is the perfect meal to share as a main course and you can choose the size of the fish depending on your group size. Its price is stated per kilo.
The flavor sensation of this spicy shrimp ceviche is worth a try, especially if you like it hot. The origins of aguachile are disputed between Culiacan and Mazatlan. It is prepared by butterflying raw shrimp and marinating in a mix of Chiltepin chili and lime juice. It is served with slices of cucumber and onion. The key for a good Aguachile is real fresh shrimp and a short marinating time, because otherwise the shrimp will become tough. No worries if your spice tolerance level isn’t very high; just ask for fewer chilis to be added.
Maaike Hoekstra has lived in Mexico for over 15 years. She is passionate about Mexican culture and food. Here are the stories and recipes she finds along the way.