BACK IN LA: MORE MEXICAN MARISCOS
Since HP has just returned from Spain where he seemed to devote much of his time contributing to a future shortage of seafood, I thought it was only right and proper that I try to do the same while here in Los Angeles.
So, when Sybil returned home from work and suggested we head straight out for supper at a Mexican mariscos restaurant she had read about on that splendid blog,EATING LA I was only too happy to comply.
Mariscos Chente in Culver City specialises in dishes from the Sinaloa and Nayarit states of North West Mexico. The cuisine was a new one on me and focuses on seafood and fish. The owners apparently fly to Mexico every week bringing back many types of fish not readily available in the US.
The restaurant is not a particularly prepossessing place. The walls are bare but for a few posters. There is a distinct absence of air conditioning and Mexican football blares out from two televisions attached to the wall. If the room is sparse, so too is the menu, split into four sections featuring a range of shrimp dishes in various sauces, a selection of the raw coctels that were one of the highlights of my time in Guadalajara, ceviches and a handful of fish dishes.
What it lacks for I choice, it makes up for in quality. After we had worked our way through the best part of a bowl of crunchy tortilla with a thin salsa of coriander leaf, chilli and lots of lime, our first dish arrived. Camarones Borrachos were thick and meaty shrimps served in a sauce spiked out with chunks of garlic and laced with a hefty amount of tequila. We divided the shrimp equally and then fought over the heads sucking the fat from them before mopping up the remaining sauce with grains from mound of buttery rice.
Less successful was a dish of Chicharron De Pescado, which shrieked of pre-preparation. The tough outer shell tasted as if it had been refried from a lunchtime batch and the dry fish flesh inside was barely worth the effort required to excavate it. Dipping it in the dish of green salsa perked it up a little, but the fact that we left more than half the plate spoke volumes.
Fortunately, things got back on track with our final selection. Pescado Serandeado turned out to be a whole snook, split and marinated in “Salsa Inglese” (that’s Worcestershire Sauce to you and me) and then grilled until the skin had become crisp. It was served with a few soft corn tortilla and a bowl of sharp caramelised onions. It’s stunning stuff, and we after we had finished the fatty belly meat of the fish, Sybil picked up the bones to suck them clean of the remaining flesh.
It is not cheap, but for seafood of this quality, $64 including tip struck me as remarkably good value, particularly as it represented an introduction to a part of Mexico that is little represented in L.A dining and almost unknown in the UK.
As we left the restaurant we saw signs on the wall, which read, “Try Langostino” We had not realised that these were available to order off menu. The decision was made, we would simply have to return again later during my trip.
I trust that Hermano Primero would be suitably pleased that I am keeping my end up, seafood wise