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Adventure and Epicure

Local Dishes
My Recipes from Baja

by Luke Shullenberger

Beach Burritos Pescado

Ingredients:

Packaged commercial tortillas

Fresh fish filets (sea bass, triggerfish, yellowtail, anything white and firm)

Reconstituted refried beans

Monterrey Jack cheese

Minced garlic

Coriander, cumin, cayenne

Fresh limes

Minced Onion (if you have it great)

Cooking oil

Preparation:

Boil beans with spices to taste, saute filets, garlic, salt and Onion, grab tortilla slice of cheese, wedge of lime and construct.

Every recipe has a story. This one has its origins on a beach just south of Guardian Angel Island (Isla Angel de la Guardia) a 50 mile long chunk of rock almost halfway down the Sea of Cortez, and the fish filets from these waters are white, firm and heavenly. We ran into a couple of kayak compadres that were well supplied and we learned a valuable lesson: ditch the pasta and oatmeal in the food bag for tortillas, dried refried beans, limes and a head of garlic.

Our amigo had just landed a variety of parrot fish (although any firm fleshed white fish will do) and was cleaning it when we showed up. I watched in jealous awe as he pulled out a little salt, cayenne, fresh garlic and cooking oil and lightly sauteed the filets over an open flame. From a pot of reconstituted refried beans he ladled a spoonful onto a tortilla, threw on a slice of Monterey Jack (yes they even had cheese!), laid a tender filet on top, drizzled juices from the pan and finished it off with a squeeze of lime. So good you'd mambo naked with a stingray for a bite!

Helpful hints:

-- The local flour tortillas hot off the press in town down here are fabulous but they don't keep. Go for the pre-packaged ones in the store. With a little calcium propionate (it's almost organic) as a preservative they won't turn into cheese in your food bag.

-- instant, reconstituted refrieds taste great and pack better. Stewed with a little coriander, cumin and something spicy (chile powder or cayenne) they're fabulous filler.

-- fresh garlic is an essential. It keeps remarkably well and you can get it in any town. Onions are an option as well, shorter shelf life though.

-- Monterey Jack cheese lasts longer than you think. It gets a bit oily without refrigeration but it's so decadent out in the field, and after 4 hours paddling aren't you worth it?


Beach Burritos Pescado Mark II

Ingredients:

  • Packaged commercial tortillas
  • Reconstituted refrieds
  • Large meaty fish filets (yellowtail, tuna, bonita etc)
  • Pancake mix
  • Water/beer
  • Creamer/powdered milk/corn starch
  • Minced garlic
  • Cayenne/chili powder, cumin, coriander, mexican oregano
  • Limes
  • Cooking oil (enough for half-inch deep in frying pan)

Preparation:

Prepare batter with almost 2 to 1 ration of pancake mix to water/beer, keep it thick. Add spices to taste (let them influence the flavor not dominate). Cut filets into strips 4 inches long and an inch or so wide. Dredge in creamer and dunk in batter, fry in oil in frying pan over medium heat for about 1 ? minutes per side. Construct burrito with beans and lime and serve with sunset.

Many of the gringos down here are excellent and avid fishermen with big hearts. Mike, a fireman from San Diego who we met in the bay of San Francisquito after an exhausting day of paddling was certainly that sort. He donated a large ziplock bag full of Bonito filets to our cause and I invented a way to fry them up using what we had in the food bag. It was a huge success.

Pancake mix is multi-purpose. It makes a perfect batter with beer and spices (water will suffice). The real challenge was finding something to dredge the filets in so the batter would stick. How often do you go camping with corn starch in your arsenal? How about powdered milk or creamer? Bingo! The rest of the accoutrements are common sense, you already have them because you read the other beach burrito recipe, right?

Helpful hints:

-- By using a small quantity of oil you're not exactly deep frying here. The frying temperature is the only tricky part. Too low and the batter absorbs all the oil making your filet into a grease bomb and not leaving enough for the remaining filets. Too high and you burn the filet. Experiment and fine tune.


Tresores del Mar Mojo de Ajo a la San Juanico Cove

(Scallops sauteed in garlic infused butter)

Upon the discovery of treasure lying beneath wave-washed reef, many the hunter has cried "Eureka!" to share his joy with his mates. I'm quite sure all marine life living in the entire 3 mile wide cove at San Juanico knew the exact moment I stumbled on a huge bed of rock scallops and proceeded to fill my mesh bag with enough large medallions to feed a party of six.

The fish and shellfish down in the Sea of Cortez is so healthy and well fed that its natural flavors should be allowed to shine with minimal accoutrements. This is not merely my own opinion, as you will find that the preparation favored by the locals is a simple saute of garlic salt and butter that lets the exquisitely sweet flesh stand on its own.

Next time you come across scallops whose freshness sings to you, try this preparation and savor the richness of true culinary treasure.

Ingredients:

  • -scallop medallions washed in salt water
  • -minced garlic
  • -salt
  • -olive oil

Preparation:

On medium-high heat saute garlic in enough oil to coat pan for 30 seconds. Toss in scallops and turn up heat to high. Sprinkle with salt and saute for 2 minutes while tossing and stirring. Scallops should be slightly raw in center when you take them off the burner. Serve in pan and residual heat will cook them to tender perfection and keep them warm

Serving Suggestions:

Accompany with rice steamed in chicken bullion, wine and a crushed smoked chile pepper and serve with beer and limes or dry white wine.


Scallops in Garlic and Herb White Sauce

Ingredients:

  • -scallop medallions rinsed in salt water
  • -cooking oil
  • -minced garlic
  • -pinch of sage and oregano
  • -milk powder

Preparation:

On med-high heat saute garlic and spices in enough oil to barely coat bottom of pan. Add scallops and saute stirring and tossing for 2 minutes. Salt and juices from scallops will provide briny liquid to which you add enough milk powder to thicken into a creamy sauce. Simmer another 30 seconds and serve in pan so residual heat will cook them to tender perfection and keep them warm.


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