Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pescado a la naranja for Malverde, the narco-saint

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And my mermaid-tastic jewelry can be found in my etsy shop.

Lest anyone who actually looks at this blog get worried, there will eventually be non-Mexican recipes, I promise!

It just happens that I started this whole project right before May 3rd, the day that Mexican folk saint (of
Narcotics trafficking, no less!) Jesus Malverde was hung outside of the city of Culiacan in Sinaloa, Mexico.

Sinaloa stretches along Mexico's Pacific coast, which means Mexican seafood, people!

But first, the story:

Malverde was a Sinaloan brick layer executed for robbery circa 1909 (if he even existed, which is debatable).

He apparently began performing miracles almost immediately after his death when a frustrated rancher looking for his lost cows threw a rock out at Malverde's hanging body (nice image, eh?) only to discover that the missing cows had magically reappeared.

Since the early 20th century, Malverde has been a symbol for the
poor triumphing over the system - a Robin-Hood-esque figure that the poor of Sinoloa and many other areas worship and pray to for money, protection from the law, etc. His major day of veneration is the anniversary of his death, May 3rd. His cult isn't confined to Mexico, either - I've seen Malverde candles and paraphernalia in the dollar store down the street.

This might be my favorite Malverde pic on the internet - taken in San Francisco. Malverde chillin the the cherbus. Again, he's considered just another saint.

His shrine in Cuilican, Sinaloa:

Malverde's general fuck-the-system image has attracted some more
nefarious followers as well. Malverde is called the narco-saint by the press because of the attention he gets from drug traffickers and even some of the higher-ups in the Mexican drug mafia. Sinaloa is the hub of Mexican weed and opium production and several cartel leaders have their bases in the region, publicly worshiping Jesus Malverde along with the poor folk at the local shrines.

Here's someone's lovely photoshop interpretation of the Malverde-drug connection:

Malverde has even become a fashion statement, I guess is some sort of '
look at me I'm a badass and might be a drug dealer' kind of way:

Malverde is fabulously dark and mysterious, his image forever caught in the sprawling and violent web of the Mexican drug trade.
What's not dark or mysterious at all, though, is Sinaloan food. Since its on the Pacific coast of Mexico, seafood is key. A specialty is huachinango a la naranja, or whole red snapper cooked in orange juice. I frankly didn't feel like cooking an entire snapper when its just me here this week so this is a simpler, less dramatic version with all the same flavors. Its light, bright, and beachy enough to make you want to drop everything and run to Sinaloa, drug lords and all.

I used sole filets because they were on sale and looked good, but really any white, fairly firm fish will work. Snapper, of course, is the classic, but grouper or halibut would be fabulous, too.

Rice is a must with this - there will be a ton of tasty juice to sop up. As you'll notice from my rather sloppy pictures, this is probably best served in a bowl -
its that juicy.
Pescado a la Naranja

2 filets of firm, white fish firm white fish such as halibut or grouper, each between 0.25 and 0.5 lbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
All-purpose flour for dredging
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup finely chopped white onion

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs lime juice
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
(you may choose to seed the pepper if you'd like to keep things on the mild side, though I have a feeling Malverde would have liked his pescado nice and spicy!)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease a baking dish that is just big enough to hold your fish with olive oil.
Season the fish with salt and pepper and dust lightly with flour on each side.
Mix together the cilantro, garlic, onion, olive oil, lime juice, and jalapeno pepper and press the mixture into both sides of the fish. Arrange the fish in a single layer in the baking dish.
Pour the orange juice over the fish and bake covered until the fish is opaque, firm to the touch, and flakes easily with a fork, about 20 minutes.
Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs, some lime wedges for squeezing, and plenty of rice (really, look at all that juice! And its SO good). This is a link to my favorite Mexican/Spanish rice recipe: click click!

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