Some foods are synonymous with fun, lazy days. Pescado frito (fried fish a la Dominicana), is one of them, an uncomplicated dish of fried whole snapper that is crispy and flavorful. Learn how to fry fish the Boca Chica Beach way, and enjoy this marvelous Caribbean treasure.
Why we ❤️ it
Fried fish is the kind of dish that you can order almost anywhere in the Dominican Republic (best done by the beach, like Boca Chica). It is an essential component of a beach day and very popular street food.
This fish recipe only requires that you find some very fresh fish, which is sure to bring some sun and fun into your own home, even if you are far from our wonderful beaches.
Best fish for frying
There are a few things to consider when choosing the best fish to fry, mostly what every person prefers, as everyone has a preferred type of fish, and each has its own unique flavor profile. These are some popular choices in the order I prefer them:
- Sea bass
- Red snapper
- Yellow tail snapper
Whole fish is preferred, but fish fillets are also available at some more upscale restaurants.
Preparing the fish
If you are one of the lucky ones that can get fresh fish, then the first step is to ensure that your fish is properly cleaned. This means gutting the fish and removing the scales. You can have your fishmonger do this for you, or you can do it yourself at home.
Once the fish is clean, rinse it and pad dry with a paper towel.
Oil for frying fish
For frying fish, you'll need to choose the right type of oil. Oil for frying should have a high smoke point so it doesn't break down and release harmful chemicals into the food, or alter its taste profile. The best oils for deep frying fish, and most commonly used in our country are peanut oil, canola oil, and corn oil.
Snapper and Pescado frito (whole fried fish).
Sides for fried fish
Some lime wedges should be served with your fish, but if you don't have limes, serve with lemon wedges.
About this recipe
There are many ways to fry fish, for some recipes you need to dredge the fish in batter, some coat it with all-purpose flour, panko, bread crumbs, or cornmeal. Some require that you have a deep fryer.
Pescado frito, in contrast, is a simple dish, made with the most basic equipment. All you need is a skillet or even a pot, and it's cooked on your regular stove burner. So if you want to try something less involved, but very popular in our country, this is the recipe for you.
Nearly every Dominican cook has a special touch they swear by, so if you have a tip to share, let us know in the comments.
[Recipe + Video] Pescado Frito (Fried Fish a la Dominicana)
- 6 small seabass, snapper, or grouper, (½ lb [0.23 kg] each) scaled, gilled, and gutted
- ½ teaspoon oregano (dry leaves), powdered
- 3 crushed garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon pepper (freshly-cracked, or ground)
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus more for serving
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 cup vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 limes cut into wedges
- Score fish 3 or 4 times diagonally on both sides.
- Sprinkle each fish with a pinch of oregano, garlic, pepper, and salt. Rub each fish with the cornstarch, making sure it gets into the cuts.
- In a frying pot heat the oil over medium-high heat (350 ºF [176 ºC]). Deep-fry one by one until golden brown on both sides. Place on a paper towel to drain excess oil.
- Garnish with lime wedges, and serve with extra salt on the side.
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutritional information.
Boca Chica and fried fish
Am I the only one for whom Pescado Frito (Fried Fish a la Dominicana) is synonymous with Boca Chica?
If you don't know, Boca Chica is one of the closest beaches to Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital. With white sand and shallow turquoise waters, Boca Chica is the kind of beach we see in Caribbean postcards; but instead of the romanticized version, Boca Chica is full of hustle and bustle, and Dominicans at their most colorful.
It is quite crowded, full of noise and activity, and unprepared sunbathers who didn't bring their stereotypical pot of spaghetti and a bag of bread, will find a plethora of fried fish vendors and the coldest Dominican beer.
Can't make it to Boca Chica beach this weekend? Well, make your own Pescado Frito with a cold one, and pretend you're there. Tire tube and all.
Of course, Boca Chica is not the only beach in the country where you can enjoy tasty fried fish. Any Dominican cook knows how to make fried fish, so you'll find it from the mountains of Jarabacoa to the Buen Hombre coast. You tell me where you like it best.
It really depends on what you're looking for. If you want a very crispy exterior and still juicy fish, deep frying is the way to go. If you're looking for something a little healthier, pan-frying is a better option. This dish, however, is traditionally made by deep-frying the fish.
To fry fish properly, you'll want to make sure the oil is hot enough before adding the fish. You'll also want to be careful not to overcrowd the pan, which will lower the temperature of the oil and result in greasy fish. Finally, be sure to drain the fried fish on paper towels to remove any excess oil.
You'll know that the fried fish is done when it is golden brown all over.
The best oils for frying fish are vegetable oils with a high smoke point, such as canola, corn or peanut oil.
Published Dec 28, 2003, revised