Sierra Dip with Guajillo Chile Flatbreads
According to Eric Werner and Mya Henry, authors of the cookbook Hartwood, “In case you’re wondering, fish dip is not a Mexican dish. It’s purely an American thing, but it’s one of those standards that deserves a second look. You can use any fish you want—the oilier the better. We make this with sierra, or Spanish mackerel.” They serve this dip with homemade flatbreads, but you can use tostadas or tortilla chips instead. Huayas look like little limes, but they crack open to reveal a lychee-like pinkish-orange fruit with sweet-tart flesh surrounding a large seed. They make a fun garnish but are completely optional. The recipe makes more chile lime salt than you will need, but you can use the smoky, spicy, tangy salt on just about any dish. At Hartwood they sprinkle it over the odd-shaped pieces left over when they make jicama salad, or you could use it on radishes or eggs.
For the chile lime salt:
- 4 dried árbol chiles
- 2 Tbs. kosher salt
- Grated zest of 3 limes
For the guajillo caper sauce:
- 1 dried guajillo chile, stems and seeds removed
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) Chardonnay
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) water
- 2 1/2 Tbs. white vinegar
- 1 fresh tarragon sprig
- 1 fresh oregano sprig
- 1/4 carrot, peeled
- 1 1/2 tsp. capers
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) olive oil
- 2 1/2 Tbs. sour cream
For the dip:
- 1 lb. (500 g) sierra (Spanish mackerel) fillets
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) olive oil
- 1 Tbs. kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1 orange, unpeeled, cut into slices 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick
- Huaya, peeled, for garnish (optional)
Guajillo Chile Flatbreads for serving
To make the chile lime salt, in a dry cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat, toast the chiles until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Pulse the chiles in a spice grinder to a fine powder. Mix with the salt and lime zest. Use immediately or store in a tightly sealed jar in a cool place.
To make the guajillo caper sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine the chile, coriander, cumin, peppercorns, Chardonnay, water, vinegar, tarragon, oregano and carrot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer until the mixture is reduced to a third of its original volume, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then remove the tarragon, oregano and carrot from the pan.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and add the capers. Blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Slowly add the olive oil, blending until incorporated. Add the sour cream and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To make the dip, preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).
Put the fish in a baking dish and add the olive oil, turning to coat. Season the fish on both sides with the kosher salt and pepper. Place the orange slices on top and bake until the fish is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Drain the fish; remove any skin and remaining bones and finely flake the fish by hand into a bowl. Add the guajillo caper sauce and stir until thoroughly combined. (The dip can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature before serving.)
To serve, garnish the dip with the 1 1/2 tsp. of the chile lime salt and the huaya. Serve with the flatbread alongside. Serves 6 to 8.
Excerpted from Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015.