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Pescado Zarandeado: Grilled Fish Mexican Style

Pescado Zarandeado is a revered dish in Mexican coastal cuisine, originating from the state of Sinaloa and popular along the Pacific coast. The dish typically features a whole fish, often snapper or sea bass, butterflied and marinated in a flavorful mixture of citrus juices, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and spices such as garlic, pepper, and chili powder.

What sets Pescado Zarandeado apart is its cooking technique. The marinated fish is grilled over an open flame, traditionally on a wire mesh grill known as a zaranda, which imparts a smoky flavor and charred exterior while keeping the flesh tender and juicy. This grilling process is often accompanied by frequent flipping and basting with additional marinade, ensuring the fish is cooked evenly and infused with layers of flavor.

Pescado Zarandeado is cherished for its delicious taste but also for its cultural significance, often enjoyed during festive gatherings and beachside celebrations.

Estimated Duration

Immerse yourself in the culinary delight of Pescado Zarandeado with a cooking time of approximately 40 minutes. This includes preparation and grilling, ensuring you enjoy a fresh and flavorful seafood experience.

Nutrition Facts

Pescado Zarandeado offers a healthy dose of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential nutrients from the fish. With its focus on grilled goodness, this dish is a nutritious choice for those seeking a satisfying and wholesome meal.

Equipment Required

Before creating this grilled masterpiece, ensure you have the following equipment:


Gather these fresh and vibrant ingredients for an authentic Pescado Zarandeado experience:

For the Marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons achiote paste
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Additional Ingredients:

  • 1 whole snapper or sea bass, scaled and gutted
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Fresh cilantro and lime wedges for garnish


  1. Prepare the Marinade: In a bowl, mix achiote paste, orange juice, lime juice, minced garlic, dried oregano, ground cumin, salt, and pepper. This creates a vibrant marinade for the fish.
  2. Marinate the Fish: Lay the whole fish on a cutting board. Make diagonal cuts on both sides. Generously brush the fish with the marinade, ensuring it penetrates the cuts for maximum flavor. Allow the fish to marinate for at least 20-30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the Grill: Preheat your grill or barbecue to medium-high heat. Ensure the grates are well-oiled to prevent sticking.
  4. Grill the Fish: Place the marinated fish on the hot grill. Cook for about 15-20 minutes per side, or until the flesh is opaque and easily flakes with a fork. Baste the fish with the marinade during grilling for added flavor.
  5. Brush with Olive Oil: During the last few minutes of grilling, brush the fish with olive oil to enhance the smoky flavor and create a crispy exterior.
  6. Garnish and Serve: Transfer the grilled fish to a serving platter. Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. Serve hot and enjoy the Pescado Zarandeado experience.

Tips and Advice

  • Experiment with different types of whole fish, such as snapper, sea bass, or grouper, for varied flavors.
  • If using a charcoal grill, add a few wood chips for an extra layer of smokiness.

Enjoy with these Side Dishes

Pescado Zarandeado pairs excellently with a side of Mexican rice, grilled vegetables, or a refreshing avocado salsa. Add a squeeze of lime for an extra burst of citrusy goodness.

Storage Options

As with many grilled dishes, Pescado Zarandeado is best enjoyed fresh off the grill. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat gently.

Ingredient Substitutes

Feel free to adjust the level of spiciness by adding or reducing the amount of achiote paste. You can also experiment with different citrus juices for a unique twist.

Popular Alternatives to this Dish

Explore more Mexican seafood delights like Camarones a la Diabla, Tacos de Gobernador, or Aguachile for a diverse and delightful seafood experience. Each dish showcases the coastal flavors of Mexico in its own unique way.