This delicious traditional Brazilian recipe for roast, stuffed, pacú works equally well with any number of alternative fresh water or salt water fishes. I have made it in Fortaleza with a red snapper variety named pargo, and I'm sure it would work equally well with bass, salmon or other species of fish - which is good news, as it's unlikely one would find pacú available outside Brazil.
The quantities in this recipe are for a fish of approximately 7 lbs. (3 kgs). Cooking times and quantities can be adjusted when cooking a smaller or larger fish.
RECIPE - Roast Pacú
1 whole pacú or other fish, approx. 7 lbs. (3 kgs.), scaled and cleaned
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. lime juice
4 cloves garlic
1 cup water
6 Tbsp. neutral vegetable oil
20 leaves of kale (or collard greens), rolled and cut into thin shreds
1 small onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups farinha (manioc flour) - (in unavailable, substitute equal quantity of dried bread crumbs)
salt to taste
Put fish in large, deep roasting pan, cover with water. Add lime juice, and let refresh, refrigerated, for 30 minutes.
Drain the fish and return to pan. Add marinade ingredients and let sit, refrigerated, for one hour.
Meanwhile, make the stuffing. Heat 3 Tbsp. of the oil over high heat in a large, heavy pan. Add kale or collard greens and stir-fry only until color changes to bright green. Remove from heat. In another pan, heat the remaining 3 Tbsp. of oil, then add the onion and garlic and saute until golden. Add the farinha or bread crumbs 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the kale or collard greens, until all have been added and are thoroughly mixed. Add salt to taste.
Remove fish from refrigerator and stuff with stuffing mixture. Close cavity with kitchen twine or with skewers. Place in roasting pan, and roast in medium oven (350 degrees F) for approximately one hour. or until golden.
Line a platter with lettuce leaves, place fish on bed of lettuce and serve immediately. The platter may be garnished with tomato wedges and slices of onion, if desired.