My first evening when I landed in Santo Domingo to begin my month long adventure in the Dominican Republic this past winter was simply magical and inspiring. After a very long flight (17 hours and 2 layovers) and entirely too much bad airport food, a nice sit-down dinner was welcomed. I walked the short distance from my hostel to the Zona Colonial where the street lamps left a golden hue on the historical district. I found a seat at the El Conde where my heart opened and gratitude rushed through my being. Moved by the moment, I pulled out my phone and started journaling:
“I find myself sitting at an adorable outdoor café. You know the kind. With small café tables underneath large umbrellas around a plaza with a large monument at its center. I am in love with life. Taken back by the fact that here I am about to enjoy a glass of wine and red snapper cooked in coconut milk with rice. Children chase the hundreds of pigeons that gather in the square. This place feels more Italian or French than Dominican. The languages spoken vary but are all beautiful music to my ears while street bands chime in with their island beats.”
Image from the Hotel Conde website.
I can still feel that moment. Hear the sounds. See the Cathedral across the plaza. Taste the fish and wine. This would be the first of many times that I would order the Pescado con Coco. Its hard to turn down the opportunity to eat freshly caught fish cooked in coconut not from a can. In Las Terrenas, there are shacks that line the beach where you can order the catch of the day cooked in coconut for less than $10.
I’ve wanted to replicate and share the food of Dominican back in the States. My friend, Leah, came over one evening for dinner. Together we cooked Pescado con Coco with Grouper filets. Did it taste as good as it did in the Dominican? Nope. However, it was delicately delicious and we devoured it with a side of coconut rice. More importantly, the meal embraced Dominican culture having been cooked with friends and community.
Pescado Con Coco
Fish with Coconut
Adapted from Aunt Clara’s Kitchen.
- 2 Grouper filets or Red Snapper
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 1 Tsp of Annatto (I did not have any on hand, so we used Turmeric)
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1 Bell pepper cut into strips (we used Green)
- 1/2 Onion cut into strips
- 2 cups of Coconut milk (Fresh if you can find it! We used canned)
- Chopped Cilantro
- Clean fish. Score diagonal cuts across the fish about 1.5 inches from each other.
- Mix the garlic, annatto, and salt. Rub the mixture on the fish making sure it penetrates the cuts.
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
- Cook fish lightly on side, flip, and cook the other side equally. Lower heat.
- Add the onions and peppers. Cook until onions are translucient.
- Add the coconut milk. Simmer over medium heat until the liquid reduces to half. Rotate the fish regularly. Caution: Do not turn the heat up too much or the milk will separate losing its creaminess.
- Season with salt as necessary (We found it needed more salt to bring out the flavor). Top with chopped Cilantro. Serve with rice.
Want to dine on fish caught fresh from the sea? Check out our upcoming Adventure Travel Retreats!