Grilled Fish with Brazilian Salsa
Brazilian salsa, aka Molho a Campanha is a bright vinaigrette made of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cilantro, much like pico de gallo, however instead of lime juice as the acid, it is made with vinegar. It is commonly served with grilled meats and fish and it a fabulous accompaniment to any backyard barbecue.
The use of vinegar (in this case Marukan rice vinegar) instead of citrus allows the vegetable to get quick pickled, meaning they retain their texture much longer than in pico de gallo. This is another plus, as it can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for several days and still retain some crunch.
If you have time, salt your tomatoes 15-20 minutes prior, to intensify the flavor and get rid of some excess water. If you’re in a hurry, no worries, it is still delicious.
I love this salsa served over grilled fish. And to tie all the flavors together, I make a simple basting sauce of oil, more rice vinegar, and garlic. Grilling whole fish makes for a very dramatic presentation but this recipe works equally well with boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
For that matter, the Molho a Campanha is perfect with grilled beef, as well. I hope you will add this recipe to your summer cook-out rotation!
- 1 large ripe tomato , seeded and diced
- Kosher or fine sea salt
- ½ large red onion , diced
- 1 red or green bell pepper , seeded, deveined, and diced
- 1 Fresno or jalapeño pepper , seeded, deveined, and finely minced – optional
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro , Italian parsley, or a combination of both
- 4 tablespoons olive oil , divided
- 4 tablespoons Marukan organic rice vinegar , divided
- Black pepper
- 1 garlic clove , peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 (1- to 1½-pound) whole fish, such as snapper, trout, or branzini or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Season the tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of salt, toss to combine, and transfer to a fine mesh sieve or colander and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Drain and discard any liquid.
Combine the tomatoes with the onion, peppers, cilantro, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature before serving.
Combine the remaining oil with the garlic in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until the garlic is barely starting to brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Heat grill to medium heat (about 350 degrees) and brush the grates well with oil.
If making with fish, cut deep slits into each side of the fish, brush with the basting sauce in the cavity and outside on both sides, and place on the grill. Leave the fish on the grill, basting occasionally, until you can easily remove it from the grates with no sticking, about 5 minutes. Flip and grill for another 3-5 minutes, basting occasionally. or until the fish is cooked through and can be easily removed from the grill. Can also be made on a grill pan on top of the stove on medium-high heat.
If making with chicken thighs, brush the chicken with the basting sauce and grill about 5 minutes per side, basting frequently, or until the chicken is cooked through and reaches 165 degrees on an instant meat thermometer. Can also be made on a grill pan on top of the stove on medium-high heat.
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