- serves 4
One of the beauties of Mexico is its geographic location, with coasts on the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico, which is connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Florida Straits. From these waters comes a bounty of edible sea life, which is celebrated at Caracol, the award-winning restaurant of culinary team of Chef Hugo Ortega and Restaurateur Tracy Vaught.
Caracol, meaning “snail” in Spanish, was chosen as the restaurant’s name because of Chef Hugo’s fond memories of making ceviche de caracol (conch ceviche) in his brother Jose Luis’ kitchen at a resort in Playa del Carmen. Caracol’s menu is a culinary tour along the Mexican coasts, which are shared by 16 of the country’s states. The restaurant is committed to responsible sourcing – they feel strongly that we must be good stewards of our waters and the life that comes from it.
The menu’s journey begins with the sections Crudos and Cocteles y Escabeches, light items where the flavors of the seafood are the star; continues with Antojitos, or “little cravings,” small bites, typically like those served at street food throughout Mexico. Refreshing Sopas y Ensaladas (soups and salads) feature many seasonal items; and main course options, or Platos Fuertes, showcase moles and other traditional dishes. The Del Horno section features items from Ortega’s custom wood-burning oven, such as whole roasted fish, short ribs and a dish straight from Chef Hugo’s heart, Ostiones Asados – wood-roasted Gulf oysters with chipotle butter, which celebrates his love for oysters. Complementing the savory menu are the postres, desserts, by Executive Pastry chef Ruben Ortega, including the signature El Coco, a chocolate coconut-shaped shell of housemade chocolate filled with coconut buttercream,coconut ganache and coconut streusel served with a small wooden mallet which guests use to crack open the coconut.
Caracol’s interiors mix rustic and industrial, modern and traditional elements, with a natural color palette of sand, straw and blue reference aquatic life and the beautiful beaches of the Mexican coasts.
- 3 cups red snapper filet cut into cubes
- 1-1/2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup coconut cream (recipe follows)
- 3/4 cups grilled pineapple, cut into medium cubes
- 3/4 cups orange supremes
- 1/2 tsp habanero, finely dice or as desired
- 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut chips
- 1/4 cup cilantro sprouts
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup young coconut pulp, brown skin removed
- 1 cup ripe coconut pulp, brown skin removed
- 2 cups coconut water
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
Place all ingredients in a pot, cover and bring to simmer over medium heat. Once it simmers, lower heat and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and leave pot covered until just warm.
Puree the coconut while still warm – this will help you to get better texture. Transfer to a container and allow to completely cool before using on the fish. Coconut cream can be done in advance.
FOR THE CEVICHE
Place fish in a bowl cover with lime juice for 10 minutes. Remove lime juice from fish, season with sea salt and mix well. Add coconut cream, grilled pineapple, orange supremes and habanero, and mix well to combine. Place on a platter and garnish coconut chips and cilantro. Drizzle with olive oil. Can also be served in a very clean coconut shell.
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