Grilled Achiote-Rubbed Red Snapper

Nicholas Farina

Verdad Restaurant & Tequila Bar, Bryn Mawr, PA

In this family-style seafood dish, red snapper gets some kick from an achiote paste–based rub. Achiote is a combination of crushed annatto seeds, vinegar, salt, garlic, and spices, and can be found at Latin markets and some grocery stores.


  • 1 cup achiote paste

  • 1/2 cup lime juice

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar

  • 1/2 serrano chile 

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • One 12-ounce red snapper fillet
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 

  • 1 zucchini, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 yellow squash, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 red onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 head fennel, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces, fronds reserved
  • 1 heirloom tomato, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 2 tablespoons capers


Place the achiote paste, lime juice, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, and serrano chile in a blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the snapper fillet skin side down in a large bowl and pour about 2 1/2 cups of the achiote rub all over it. (You will have about 1/4 cup left over.) Cover the bowl and let the fish marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Heat a well-oiled grill or grill pan over high heat. Grill the fish skin side down for about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and grill for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until the fish is completely opaque. 

While the fish is grilling, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the zucchini, yellow squash, red onions, and fennel. Sauté until tender but not soft, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes and capers. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, spread out the vegetables on a large platter and place the fish fillet on top. Garnish with fennel fronds.


4 servings