*Guest post by chicago foodie girl contributor, Diana
Huachi-what? As Grandpa Fred in Sixteen Candles says, "You don't say it, you EAT it!"
First things first. Look at this picture. Take it all in. And don't get all grossed out over the fish head. Seriously. You can see teeth, but I promise it won't bite. :)
My birthday was two weeks ago, and I spent the weekend doing some fabulous dining, forgetting to take pictures of course, but I managed to snap the one above, which was taken at El Barco, which is a Mexican restaurant with a coastal focus (lots of seafood) that's located in the Ukranian Village neighborhood in Chicago. I had lunch there with my father and sister, and what you see above is what my father ordered. My father is from the northern part of Mexico (but he loves coastal cuisine), and if he can find some authentic huachinango in the Chicagoland area, he will always order it.
So what is huachinango? Simply, it's red snapper that's lightly breaded and fried. Yeah, yeah, fried food, I know, but if my dad is going to splurge on something fried, it's not going to be mozzarella sticks or jalapeno poppers. As he would say, "No way, Jose".
There are a couple of different preparations that I tried in the past, there's mojo de ajo (a delicious garlic sauce) and Veracruzana (spicy tomato sauce). Dad ordered it my favorite way, mojo de ajo.
On a side note, my mother makes a killer mojo de ajo sauce (Puerto Rican style, sans the chili peppers and she uses both raw and roasted garlic) that I would sip through a straw, but if I did that I'd never leave the house. I'm seriously considering it. :)
Dad's lunch came with a giant helping of roasted and steamed vegetables and a pile of spanish rice. I swear that plate could feed a family. I think he ended up making three meals of that! We are a family that shares our meals, so I was able to try it, and it was absolutely delicious. Crisp on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside. We all agreed it was delicious, and my father couldn't stop raving, so I know it's a keeper.
Another side note, my mother is currently visiting relatives in Puerto Rico so she couldn't join us, so it was sweet to hear him say over and over, "I need to bring your mother here" and "I wish your mom was here". They're a wacky couple, but after 45 years, the love is completely obvious.
Smile. Sigh. Swoon. :)
As for myself, I ordered Arroz con mariscos (rice with seafood, aka Paella), and it was great. I was a little suprised that the shrimp in the dish were "peel and eat" style, which wasn't a big deal because having to work for your food can be a lot of fun sometimes. Plus, I swear they gave me about 2lbs of shrimp in addition to calamari, octopus (just a leg that was completely delicious) and a bit of white fish.
I do have to say that I found the rice a teeny (really teeny) bit bland, but a dose of salt, pepper and a squirt of lime fixed that situation.