The golden hued pescado amarillo, or yellow catfish, is one of the most common fish found in the Lower Paraná River in Northeast Argentina. In the city of Paraná, street food stalls increase in number as you crawl closer to the river; vendors serve yellow catfish either cooked over a wood-burning grill or lightly floured and fried to be enjoyed with a cold lager-style cerveza. Here Argentine cook Jorgelina Mandarina marries the best of both worlds, using a pan to cook the butterflied fish over a hot grill, giving the dish a crispy pan sear and a divine smoky flavor, all tied together with her non-traditionalist use of fresh curry leaves and tangy caramelized citrus.
Cooking time can vary based on distance from coals and insulation from wind. Argentine grills, such as those made by Ñuke, are often built with height adjustable grates and insulated side walls. If yellow catfish is not available to you, any other catfish of similar size will work well using this preparation.
Featured in: "The Pescatarian Asado: Reframing Argentina's Native Bounty."
For the fish:
- One 2½ –3 lb. whole catfish, such as pescado amarillo, butterflied, head and spine removed
- Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 key limes (or substitute 1 small lime plus 2 limes) sliced into ¼-in. rings
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
For the chimichurri:
- 1 medium mandarin
- ½ cups fresh Italian parsley
- ½ cups fresh oregano
- ¼ cups fresh curry leaves
- ¼ cups fresh rosemary
- ¼ cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. coarse sea salt