Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 4) -- and probably beyond, at this rate -- we'll be counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.
45: The Pescado Zarandeado at Coni'Seafood.
The pescado zarandeado at Coni'Seafood in Inglewood has long been the stuff of near-legend in this town. It's been blogged and written about for years, before chef Sergio Peñuelas decamped from the Mariscos Chente in Mar Vista to his current location of Coni'Seafood in Inglewood -- which still has the name Mariscos Chente on the restaurant receipts. For the uninitiated, the dish is popularly called snook, which has a glorious Dr. Seuss ring to it that very much suits what shows up on your table, sometimes a good half-hour after you order it, depending on the crowd.
Much as it sounds like one, a snook isn't a cartoon fish, but a mild white coastal fish also called a robalo; it's also oddly popular with the US Navy, which named three submarines after the fish, including two called the USS Snook. (Wouldn't you?) At Coni'Seafood the fish is served butterflied and seasoned (salt, a "house sauce") and grilled over a hot fire until the still-intact fins and tail are quite nicely blackened and the fish itself is fragrant and flaky and utterly tender, then presented on a metal half-sheet pan, as if it were a batch of cookies just pulled from the oven.
There are slices of raw red onions and cucumbers thrown causally over the top. A bowlful of mysteriously seasoned cooked onions and a stack of warm tortillas are set down nearby. You pull apart the bits of fish, watching for the many bones, add some onion or the terrific kelly green jalapeño sauce that came with your chips, and roll it all up in a tortilla. Sure, you can order the smoked marlin tacos or the tacos al gobernador or one of the many excellent camarones dishes -- but probably save that for another time. Depending on the weight of your snook (you can order different sizes), you won't need anything else.
Check out the rest of our 100 of our favorite dishes. Suggestion? Write us a comment.
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