Friday, August 6, 2010

Guaiuba - A "Top-Three" Fish in Ceará

In a recent interview in Fortaleza's Diário do Nordeste newspaper, Lúcio Figueiredo, who is chef at Vojnilô seafood restaurant here in town, commented on the best locally-sourced varieties of fish available on the menu of his restaurant, which was named the best restaurant for fish in the 2009 Veja Guide to eating and drinking in Fortaleza. In the article he mentioned three varieties of fish which he considers the best choices for a diner at Vojnilô, in terms of traditionality, quality and sustainability. The three fish he spoke of are the sirigado (black grouper), pargo (red porgy) and guaiuba (yellowtail snapper). He went on to say that although many of his customers order these fish in cream or bechamel sauces, his preference for all of them is to simply grill them whole, which highlights the flavor of the fish itself and nothing else.

I was familiar with, and have eaten frequently, both sirigado and pargo. (Click here for an earlier Flavors of Brazil article about the sirigado.) But guaiuba was a new one to me. An image search on Google brought up some stunningly beautiful pictures of the fish, and I recognized it immediately from having seen it many times at the local seaside fish market. But I have never purchased it at the market, nor eaten it in a restaurant. That's a situation I'll soon have to remedy.

 The guiauba, or yellowtail snapper, has a wide range, and according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) the species belongs to the "least concern" group on its Red List. In other words, at the moment, it is in little danger of extinction of the species through overfishing. It can be found all along the American coast of the Atlantic, from Massachusetts to southern Brazil.

If you're within striking distance of the Atlantic shores, try to find yellowtail snapper at your local fish market. And take chef Figueiredo's advise - don't smother it with sauces, just clean it, stuff it with some fresh herbs, salt it, cook it on the grill, squeeze some fresh lime juice over it and dig in.

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