Riviera Nayarit
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Zarandeado fish, a delicious tradition

By Paco Morás

January 13, 2022

In the Mexican Pacific, zarandeado fish is one of the most popular dishes. It’s typical to serve it as the main course during family get-togethers. It is also ever present on a beach day or as a casual craving in a restaurant.

The recipe for zarandeado fish dates back to pre-Hispanic times. The Totorame people unified the states of Sinaloa and Nayarit at that time. The territory was under the ruling of Chametla during the time. Its area spanned the Piaxtla River in Sinaloa to the Santiago River in Chile (Nayarit).

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This dish comes specifically from Mexcaltitán, a small island barely 400 meters long and 350 meters wide, located in the middle of the Santiago River. People consider this site the Venice of Nayarit, because in the rainy season its streets flood and you can travel through them in small boats.

zarandeado fish Mexcaltitan island

The traditional Mexcalitlán recipe for zarandeado fish involves flavoring the fish with lemon and chili sauce. It’s then smoked on a palm tree with mangrove firewood.

In Sinaloa, this dish has a different preparation. It takes bell pepper, tomato, onion, mustard, butter and a spicy seasoning. It is then wrapped in aluminum foil and left to cook over low heat.

Now that you know the origin of this delicious specialty, here is a recipe to cook it:


1 red snapper or snook or any other white fish, cut open lengthwise

For the sauce:

3 tablespoons achiote powder

2 crushed garlic cloves

3 teaspoons of soy sauce or to taste

1/2 cup of sour orange juice, or half a lemon juice.

Salt and pepper to taste

zarandeado fish cooking


Wash and dry the fish.

Blend the achiote, garlic, soy sauce, orange juice and a pinch of salt and pepper to make a sauce.

Spread the sauce on the fish, put it into the grill to shake.

Place the fish directly on the coals.

It is very important to check that the wood is not too dry so that the meat does not smoke.

Serve with cucumber, tomato, onion, beans and a delicious spicy sauce with tortillas.





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