Fried Red Snapper – Pargo Rojo Frito

As I sit down to write, I am daydreaming about zipping over to the little island of Tierra Bomba in Colombia and living the life of my true food idol, Anthony Bourdain. In this particular episode of his show, No Reservations, that I am imagining in my mind, he is lounging in a beach hut and eating amazingly fresh seafood, cooked to perfection. I suddenly snap back into reality and realize that I can recreate my crazy dreams right at home. That’s what I did with this fried red snapper recipe, and I hope that you will too! Cooking this whole fish was surprisingly easy – mostly because the nice fish market man cleaned the fish for me at the grocery store. When purchasing a red snapper to pan fry at home, make sure that you ask them to clean it for you. This process includes scaling, taking out the insides, and removing the fins and tail. As long as your fish is cleaned, this recipe is easy peasy and is may be the best fried red snapper recipe. I believe that one fish is enough for two people – but if you want to serve one fish per person, just double, triple, etc. the recipe depending on how many people you are cooking for.

Pargo Rojo Frito


  • 1 whole red snapper (1-1.5 lbs; cleaned, scaled and gutted)
  • 2 tsp of fresh lime juice (1 lime)
  • 1 tbsp of green onions, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of parsley, minced
  • 1/2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 pinch of group black pepper
  • 3/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of vegetable oil for frying


First, if you are unlucky enough to have a fish that has not been cleaned, follow these directions to clean your fish. Just remember to keep the head on (never thought I would have to say that…) but it looks better for your final presentation.

Optional step – if you have a cute puppy, introduce it to Mr. Fishy.

Next, take a sharp knife and make 4-5 slashes on each side of the fish, all the way to the bone.

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, green onions, garlic, parsley, salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. With your fingers, rub the mixture all over the fish, inside the cracks and inside the belly as well. Quickly place the fish in a baggie and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

After 15 minutes, take out a large pan and pour in your vegetable oil. Heat the oil to 325°F. If you don’t have a thermometer available, simply flick a tiny bit of water with your fingers into the oil. If it bubbles up, the oil is ready. Once the oil is at its proper temperature, cover the fish on both sides in flour and place the fish in the pan.

Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until the fish is golden brown and crispy. Once the fish is cooked, remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Serve with patacones (AKA fried green plantains) and lime wedges. You can buy patacones at the grocery store and simply deep fry them along with the fish. You can also include anything from rice, to salad or fresh vegetables. Don’t forget that there are plenty of bones still in the fish (literally, all of the bones) so be careful! Spritz some extra lime juice on the fish, put a good bite in your mouth, close your eyes and go to your happy place… Perfection!

Sonja Stein

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