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Baja Baked Fish Recipes

What do you envision for a delicious fish dinner? For me, it’s high quality, wild-caught fish with fresh taste, melt-on-your-fork tenderness and a hint of briny sweetness. While my usual fish seasoning go-tos are extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, sometimes I like to spice things up. These baked fish recipes offer a new twist with spicy Jalapeño Garlic Flavored Olive Oil and Mexican Spice Blend. The flavored olive oil adds just the right amount of garlic flavor with a luscious kick of chili pepper heat, and the Mexican Blend rounds it out with savory, fragrant herbs and spices.

These two spicy baked fish recipes feature fresh tuna and fresh red snapper, but you could easily substitute another fish like halibut, haddock or salmon. (In fact, I prefer Atlantic halibut and haddock to tuna and Pacific halibut because they are smaller fishes, and generally safer as far as environmental toxins go.) Try one and it may quickly become your favorite fish recipe!

Baha Tuna Recipe with Root Veggies

baja tuna recipe with jalapeno garlic olive oil and roasted root veggies
Spicy Baja Tuna with Jalapeno Garlic Olive Oil and Roasted Root Veggies

For the fish, you’ll need:

And for the sides:

  • Any combination of carrots, turnips, radishes or beets, add sweet potatoes for a more filling meal
  • Organic kale, beet greens, Swiss chard, or spinach

You can prepare this simple fish recipe two ways, baked or pan-seared. I prefer the baked method since it keeps the fish moist and it’s hard to overcook; plus, you are better able to control the temperature.

For baked fish, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Then drizzle the root veggies with 1 tablespoon olive oil of your choice – extra virgin olive oil or Jalapeño-Garlic olive oil for a spicier taste. Mix well and arrange on a layer of parchment paper on a baking sheet or bake without the paper in a glass dish. Add a few grinds each of with Savory Salt Blend and Pepper Juniper Blend to taste, or use more Mexican Seasoning Blend for a spicier flavor.

Place the fish in another glass pan, sprinkle Mexican Seasoning Blend on both sides then drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then cover with foil. Place both pans in the oven, bake the fish 15-40 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish steak. Bake the veggies 30 minutes until tender and browned, turning once halfway through cooking time. For the greens, sauté or steam on the stove until they’re done to your liking, then drizzle with olive oil of your choice and serve alongside the fish and veggies.

If you want to cook your fish by searing, set the heat to medium instead of high so we don’t exceed the smoke point of olive oil which degrades the precious antioxidants we want to preserve for health benefits. First, sprinkle both sides of fish with Mexican Seasoning Blend. Place two tablespoons olive oil of your choice in the skillet, then add the fish. Cook for a few minutes until the fish looks opaque, then flip to the other side for two more minutes. Prepare the veggies and greens as directed above.

For both cooking methods, the fish is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees, which you can easily measure with a handheld food thermometer.

To finish the fish, plate then drizzle with Jalapeño-Garlic olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lime juice for a tangy taste that’ll surely wake up your tastebuds!

Baked Jalapeño Garlic Red Fish Recipe with Mango Salsa

red snapper baked fish recipe with mango salsa, kale and brown rice
Jalapeno garlic red snapper with fresh mango salsa, kale and brown rice

This dish is prepared similarly to Baja Tuna, except that it’s served with fresh, homemade mango salsa and brown rice instead of root veggies. For the fish, you’ll need:

And for the rest of the plate:

  • Brown rice
  • Kale, spinach, beet greens, or Swiss chard
  • Avocado slices

For the mango salsa:

  • 1 fresh mango, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups sliced cherry tomatoes
  • ½ red onion, minced
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Jalapeño Garlic Olive Oil, to taste
  • Savory Salt Blend, to taste
  • Optional: Mexican Seasoning Blend, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make the brown rice according to package directions. While it is simmering, place the fish in a glass pan, and sprinkle with a pinch of Mexican Seasoning Blend on both sides then drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil of your choice, then cover with foil. Bake the fish 15-40 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish steak, then season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To make the salsa, combine the diced mango, sliced tomatoes, and minced red onion in a bowl, then grind a little Savory Salt Blend onto it. If you wish, add a sprinkle of Mexican Seasoning Blend too. Squeeze a little fresh lime juice over it, then add a dash of Jalapeño Garlic Olive Oil. Mix well and serve over or next to the fish on each plate.

For the greens, sauté or steam on the stove until they’re done to your liking, then drizzle with olive oil of your choice and serve alongside the fish, rice and sliced avocado.

Want more delectably spicy fish recipes? Try our Fish Taco and Fish Taco Salad recipes!:

Fish for Foodies

The reason I love fish is because it seems like a “fancy” meal that takes a lot of preparation, but it’s really much easier than it looks! You can still dress it up for a gourmet occasion, but it’s just as easy to do for a simple meal that tastes and looks great. It’s amazing when you can prepare wow-worthy meals in the comfort of your home but get all the flavor and presentation you’d expect from your favorite restaurant. And fish is so versatile when it comes to what you put on it or with it. For example, you could totally change the flavor profile of the spicy recipe above if you use a Lemon Olive Oil and fresh dill, or Blood Orange Olive Oil and zesty Pepper & Juniper Blend, or Garlic Olive Oil, Olive Oil Dipping Spice Blend and fresh tomatoes sautéed along with the fish until they burst. The combinations are virtually endless!

A benefit of cooking at home is that you get to pick the freshest fish in the market. My favorite is the kind I catch myself, but that’s not always convenient. The next best way is to visit your local fishmongers or fish markets. If you don’t have any of those near you, try your neighborhood grocer. Not only are you giving business to a local company, but they’ll often be able to direct you to the freshest-caught choices. Another important point is that fishmongers need support during this difficult time since they’re no longer selling to restaurants in quantities as they were before COVID-19. In case you need a little guidance on picking the best raw fish, I look for two things: color and scent. The scent is the so important – whenever I’m buying fish at a grocery store, I give it the sniff test – it should smell like seawater, mild and a bit sweet. If there’s any hint of fishiness at all, I’d pass on it.

As for the kind of fish I recommend, it’s wild-caught, migratory cold-water fatty fish like salmon, halibut and haddock. We use tuna in the first recipe, but I wouldn’t eat it three times a week as I recommend with the other types, since it’s a larger fish and can contain more mercury. Wild-caught is always best over a farmed version since those fish are often given GMO corn or soy, antibiotics and pesticides – things you definitely don’t want in your diet. In fact, wild-caught is the only kind of fish I’ll eat. And it’s not always labelled in the market whether it’s farmed or wild-caught. My top tip is to ask the fishmonger or grocer where it came from and only buy when you know it’s not farmed.

Why Is This Meal Healthy?

Why do I recommend fish as part of a heart-healthy diet? For one, wild-caught fish is rich in heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 brain and mood-boosting fatty acids. Salmon’s also high in Coenzyme Q10, which is one of my all-time favorite antioxidants for heart health! In my PAMM (Pan-Asian Modified Mediterranean) diet, I recommend 20 to 25 percent lean protein, and fish is an excellent way to get that essential component.

As for the root veggies and greens, those are superstars on my menu for sure. A large 2012 European study found that regular consumption of root veggies and green leafy veggies have the strongest potential to help reduce the risk of diabetes. The leafy greens also have antioxidant vitamins C and E which reduce oxidative stress and helps the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems stay healthy.

The salsa is also packed with nutritional goodness, and I can’t say enough about avocados. Like olive oil, they’re one of the healthiest sources of mono-unsaturated fat and are chock full of vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients.

Mangiare!

© Stephen Sinatra, MD. All rights reserved.

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