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Sep 7, 2010 08:38 PM

Robalo recipes or how to cook snook

First of all, let me say I know it can not be caught commercially in Florida and even then it is a limited season.

I recently tried snook (robalo) . It is served at many restaurants in Guatemala. It is a white fish. It was very fresh and perfectly cooked, moist and delicious.

As another poster on Chowhound wrote

“Snook is about as good as fish gets. Very firm and very white.”

From the Chow ingredients database which has a recipe for Cajun snook stew

“Snook have excellent flavor because they eat crustaceans and other fish … The flesh is dense and firm, delicate and flaky, and has moderate oil content and full-bodied flavor.”


It is a delicate fish that doesn't need to be treated delicately. It has gumption ... and I like gumption.

While I might favor salmon, snook was excellent.

Flavor Affinities: Bay leaf, butter, fennel, lemon, lime, olive oil, onion, orange, oregano, red onion, tomato, vinegar, white wine.

Here’s a good article on snook with a recipe for blackened snook

The next link has not only some of the best snook recipes, but excellent and creative recipes for many sport fish.

Crispy Fried Snook and Chips with Caper Tartar Sauce (it involves pineapple rum sauce)

Other snook recipes from the above link
BBQ Seafood Fried Rice
Cedar Planked snook w/ Crab
Grilled Snook Fillets
Grilled Snook with Macadamia Crust
Foil Pouch Grilled Snook

Smoked robalo dip recipe and smoked robalo croquettes recipe


Brazilian oven-roasted robalo (snook)

Snook recipes (bbq snook, snook salad, snook a’la Parmesano)

Beer Batter Snook

Smoked Snook & Chipotle Salsa

From what I’ve read, the skin of snook must be removed

“Before World War II, snook were called “soapfish” because if the skin was left on a filet, it made the flesh taste like soap. Snook were considered cat food and commercial fishermen were paid less than a penny a pound. But people eventually figured out how to clean them, which led to a commercial harvest that ended in 1957.”

I had mine in a restaurant with chipotle sauce (photo below). Another thing that impressed me about snook was that it held its own against the sauce which had a kick to it. A lot of white fish is too delicate for assertive flavors. BTW, though my photogrphy stinks like a fish left in a hot car, unfortunately those yellowish things that look like potatoes were baby squash and looked exactly like that up close and personal. Still, the snook wasn't ruined by an incompetant chef.

How do you prefer to prepare or snack on snook?

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  1. I like to make Baja style fish tacos with snook. I cut it in fingers and batter it with a batter made
    of a cup of flour. a quarter cup of corn starch. one teaspoon of baking soda. one teaspoon of
    red chilli. one teaspoon of dried parsley. one teaspoon of salt.
    Put the fried fish in a hot tortilla, top with a generous amount of chopped cabbage, a tablespoon of pico de gallo a table spoon of Yogurt mixed with some Dill weed and finish with a generous squirt of Valentino salsa. Oui la la.
    Another way is to place a couple of fillets on a piece of foil, top with a hand full of mixed sea
    food. This can be found in Mexican markets, it is called Siete Mares. Over this put three table
    spoons of butter and a teaspoon of dried Thyme. Roll up into a cylinder and bake at 350 for
    20 minutes.
    Good luck, Pablito el gordito

    2 Replies
    1. re: paul balbin

      Do you add any liquid to the dry ingredients? Sounds really good.

      1. re: c oliver

        I am so sorry. I forgot to mention the soda water added to the dry ingredients or beer if you
        prefer till you get a thick slurry. Lumps are your friend.
        On my second offering which is called "felete de piscado relleno de mariscos" another version
        is to sub chopped garlic and red chilli for the thyme. oui la la.
        Is it time you guys revisit Guatemala? I will fix it for you.
        Pablito el gordito

    2. Using bone-in Robalo I have never heard about removing the skin and even fillets are fried skin-on in Brazil, although here in the US I do remember hearing about soapfish (maybe in James Beard's fish cookbook?). In any case its commonly used in a moqueca, but you won't see it as much in restaurants because of cost and fishing restrictions (badejo and peixe namorado are among the most common used for a Moqueca Capixaba). Its still commonly sold out of season at farmers markets and directly from fisherman, but not displayed. I enjoy it in a moqueca capixaba and its also commonly used for a moqueca baiana (with palm oil and coconut milk) because as you said it can stand up to the flavors. Another distinctly Brazilian way I have had it prepared is with a farofa (mandioca flour stuffing) and then grilled inside a banana leaf. There is a video of a such a preparation on youtube in two parts which you might enjoy watching although I plan to make it with a different recipe (and grill it over coals) in the near future.

      Here the fish is boned through with the cut being along the backbone of the fish so the belly can hold the stuffing (you would still gut it normally), but I think its more commonly done through the stomach. The name moqueca comes from an indigenous word for "wrapped" referring to indigenous preparations of fish in leaves, although a preparation like this is definitely more modern. She seasons the fish with a cup of lime juice, garlic, and salt. The farofa is made with dende (palm oil), yellow/red/orange peppers, onion, tomato, lime juice, and a mixture of cilantro, green onion, and parsley (I am guessing there is parsley because in addition to spelling out the cilantro/scallions, she mentions "cheirozinho" (sic) meaning "cheiro or cheirinho verde" and in Bahia sometimes both parsley and cilantro are used in that). It would be somewhat hard to repeat this exactly in the US because of the amount of palm oil (dende) that she uses, but if you use olive oil (azeite doce, pure is fine) or something equivalent and achiote/annato (I would probably make an oil) you will essentially get the capixaba version of what she is making. The important part is the stuffing needs to be very moist. I didn't pay attention to how long she bakes it, but I probably 45min-1hr (for US tastes I might do it the lesser part of that). There are other things you could do to doctor it up, like using green coconut meat which was one of the ideas I was going to play with. You can also just do something similar with leeks, butter, garlic, wine, whatever spices you feel like (thyme or marjoram are nice), parsley

      BTW, in the US for a white fish which stands up to intense flavors I like to use hake which in Brazil I have only seen used in fillets (imported), but in Portugal its used bone-in and Spain does endless things with it. Striped Bass is my favorite for a really nice Moqueca Capixaba here in the Northeast and it could also stand up to intense flavors, but given the expense and its lovely subtle sweetness I would favor simpler preparations. Its probably the whole fish available around here which would work best for her recipe. BTW, although its completely different, a lot of the recipes you linked to work well with bluefish (cajun, baked with herbs, chipotle).

      1. I like mine steamed in a banana leaf with a slice of onion and tomato, a little fresh jalapeno, cilantro, salt and a liberal douse of asiento for lubrication. Wrap the leaf, steam and then eat. YUM.

        1. In Veracruz a few years ago we had (at a VERY GOOD restaurant) baked snook: skinned on one side, skin on the other. the róbalo was baked on a bed of rock salt, skin side down. It was superb; my wife swears it was the best fish dish she has ever had. (Name of restaurant available upon request.)

          Derald Glidden

          1. Snook is the fish used to make Nayarit-style pescado zarandeado.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Interesting. I've been to Nayarit many times but have never seen róbalo, let alone róbalo zarandeado. In most of México pescado zarandeado is made using red snapper (or what is labeled "red snapper" which is actually Pacific rockfish, not red snapper from the Gulf of México).

              1. re: dlglidden

                I've not been to Nayarit myself, so I will defer to you on this.

                I've had pescado zarandeado in Calif. at Nayarit restaurants. The two best examples were at Coni seafood in LA and Mi Lindo Nayarit in Salinas. Both of them only make the dish when they can source snook and will not substitute another fish such as Pacific rockfish which is readily available. There are quite a few references to róbalo zarandeado in Nayarit, and suggestions that this was the original.

                There are also many recipes that say to use pargo, which is true snapper.

                Barred Pargo, Mexican Barred Pargo, Mexican Barred Snapper Coconaco
                (Hoplopagrus guentheri)

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I came across this thread when looking for a recipe for snook that I had just bought in the mercado in Antiqua, Guatemala, which, interestingly enough, was where rworange was when she originated this post.

                  I found a recipe she didn’t link to, so offer it here just for the record: . It’s an excellent eating fish, but as rworange notes, it can’t be caught commercially in Florida. I’m not certain, but I don’t think it can be caught commercially anywhere in the US and that if restaurants in CA have it on the menu, it must be imported from Mexico or Central America. Just curious, Melanie, now that I've been reading up on it, if you have any idea where the restaurants you mention source their snook.