Pescado con Coco (Fish in Coconut Sauce)

Pescado con coco (Fish in coconut sauce). A decadent dish evocative of lazy days on white sand beaches

When you try Pescado con Coco (Fish in Coconut Sauce) for the first time you can’t help but wonder just how bad it is for you, after all, something that tastes this decadent, that is so evocative of lazy days on white sand beaches, mid-day siestas, and exotic cocktails at sundown has to be terribly bad for one’s health.

Luckily, you would be wrong.

Pescado con coco (Fish in coconut sauce). A decadent dish evocative of lazy days on white sand beaches

This mixture of natural fresh ingredients, aromatic herbs and creamy coconut is deceivingly rich, but made with all those things that doctors keep telling us are good for us. Much more so if, like we suggest, you use fresh fish and coconut milk.

Pescado con coco (Fish in coconut sauce). A decadent dish evocative of lazy days on white sand beaches

The flagship of Samanense cooking (from Samaná), pescado con coco has a very sophisticated taste, despite the simplicity of its preparation and the humbleness of its components: the secret is in the freshness of its ingredients. Make this tropical combination of fresh tropical fish and, if you can, freshly extracted coconut milk.

Bring the gorgeous view of the Samana bay to your own dining room.

Aunt Clara
Pescado con coco (Fish in coconut sauce)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6 servings
  • 6 snappers or red grouper, ½ lb [0.45 kg] each (or tropical fish of your preference)
  • 1 teaspoons of crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered annatto (bija or achiote - optional)
  • 1½ teaspoon of salt (more may be needed)
  • 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil (corn, canola or peanut)
  • 2 peppers cut into strips
  • 1 onion cut into strips
  • 4 cups of freshly extracted coconut milk (or canned)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
  1. Clean the fish. Score diagonal cuts on the fish about 1.5 inches [4 cm] from each other.
  2. Mix the garlic, annatto and salt. Rub the fish with the mixture, making sure it penetrates into the cuts. The annatto does stain your hands, but it can be easily washed off.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet (12" [30 cm]) over medium heat.
  4. Cook fish lightly on one side (it'll change color), rotate and cook other side equally. Lower heat.
  5. Add the pepper and onion, and cook until the onions become transparent.
  6. Add coconut milk. Simmer over medium heat until the liquid reduces to half.
  7. Rotate the fish regularly but being careful that it stays whole.
  8. When the liquid has reduced, taste the sauce and season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with the cilantro and remove from the heat.
  9. Serve hot with rice.
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{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Yesenia D. April 10, 2014, 9:08 PM

    can you use a whole tilapia for this dish?

    • Aunt Clara April 12, 2014, 1:43 AM

      I guess you can. I haven’t done it with tilapia.

      • Yesenia D. April 14, 2014, 6:25 PM

        I will try and let you know how comes out.;-)

  • Angie January 13, 2013, 10:50 PM

    Tried it and it came out wonderful!

  • Milanova October 29, 2012, 4:46 PM

    I’ll try this recipe. I’m asian, so I will certainly add strips of ginger! – Milanova

  • saif September 14, 2012, 9:34 AM

    hi, everything is fine i just added malibu n istead of whole fish, i used fillets n grilled them. it was awsome

  • Alexis Rivera March 18, 2012, 4:14 PM

    Need to get more recipes. N change face book Daddy. God bless

  • Alexis Rivera March 17, 2012, 7:29 AM

    I am not much of a cook but I am Dominicano n my mom cook these dishes all the time. I wanted to try n cook this on my own so thanks for the help. Check other recipes later. Gracias y bastard pronto!

    • Alexis Rivera March 17, 2012, 7:39 AM

      Miss type no way to edit not bastard pronto? Idon't low how that happened or what that means. It should be hasta pronto. Now I see it changes, your words if u don't watch crazy but hope I can edit it again. Adios

  • Vicky March 6, 2012, 6:59 AM

    Wow looks gorgeous and sounds delicious! Any idea if using canned coconut milk will ruin this dish?

    • Aunt Clara March 6, 2012, 7:57 AM

      Not at all! Most people use canned coconut milk, and most often than not so do I. If you ever find yourself in possession of a coconut, then try it, you'll see the difference.

  • Suz January 19, 2012, 1:32 PM

    My husband and I recently visited the Samana peninsula, and this was one of our absolute favorite dishes. I HIGHLY recommend Las Palmeras's version of the dish. Can't wait to cook this for him! Thank you!

  • Francisca Rodriguez October 17, 2011, 12:09 PM

    I love this website dominican cooking is a great site. I'm a New York Rican, and I'm married to a Dominican man that loves his comida tipica Dominicana, and I literally use this website daily, thank you so much my husband has been surprised and very pleased. I appreciate the help thank you