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Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

In this post, you can find a step-by-step guide on how to make a delicious Salvadoran Pescado Frito recipe, plus side dish accompaniments.

If you have never tried Salvadoran food before, you need to. It is so delicious, I could eat it every day. Well lucky me, I get to eat Salvadoran food a couple of times a week because not only is my amazing partner-in-crime a chef, but he’s a Salvadoran chef at that. 

Well, I have been quite selfish the past nine years because I have wanted to keep him and all of his concoctions to myself. However, it’s time to reveal his talent to the world.

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to make this delicious Salvadoran Pescado Frito recipe, plus side dish recommendations!

Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

This Pescado Frito recipe that I am going to share with you today is a Salvadoran delicacy, and it is so finger-licking-good that as soon as Carlos or I mention the words “pescado frito”, we are running to Wegmans to get all of the ingredients!

Pescado Frito means fried fish; however, this is not the kind of fried fish that you may have tried before.

This fried fish has no batter, bread crumbs, or egg. It is cooked in oil, however, Carlos’s way of preparing and marinating the fish before frying it gives it a to-die-for flavor that leaves the fish dorado y crujiente (golden and crispy).

Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

This recipe is for an entire entree. It comes with two sides, an iceberg salad, and rice. And if you want to make it a full-fledged Salvadoran meal, you cannot miss out on the homemade tortillas made from masa.

The total cooking time includes the time it takes to prepare all of this dish’s components. If you are a multitasker, it will take you significantly less time.

Ingredients for Salvadoran Pescado Frito

Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

My favorite place to buy fresh fish is Wegmans. They have a great selection of meaty fish at an affordable price. The particular fish we used in this tutorial is a Branzino, the Italian name for a Mediterranean Sea Bass. 

*Don’t settle for the cheapest option. The best quality the fish, will be more meatier and have less bones. Remember, this is a delicacy, so it is more about quality over quantity.

Select a fresh fish (preferably whole), and small to medium in size so that it properly fits in your saute pan. 

Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes


  • 2 Whole Fish
  • 1 cup of Mustard
  • 4 Limes
  • 1 Lemons (optional)
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 Head of Iceberg lettuce
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 1 Red Onion
  • Masa (Optional)
  • 1 cup of  Oil
  • Sea Salt


    Step 1: Prepare side dishes

La ensalada

Take your head of iceberg lettuce and cut it into four parts. Then, shred the leaves and place them into a large bowl.

Slice tomatoes and onions and add to bowl. Cut two limes into halves, and with a lime press, squeeze them over the vegetables. Add two pinches of salt and mix.

Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

El Arroz

I remember before I met Carlos, cooking rice seemed like a mystery to me. I always burned it!!

Well, luckily, he has shown me that it’s such an easy process. I will share a little bit here with you today, but in a future post, I would like to expand on this super easy method for cooking the perfect rice. Stay tuned!

Heat a sauté pan on medium heat. Add one teaspoon of olive oil to the pan. Quickly, add rice (and any vegetables you would like to add) and move the it around to absorb the oil. This should take only a few seconds. Please don’t leave your rice any longer, or it will burn.

Once the oil is spread evenly throughout the rice, add three cups of water. Place lid on the pan and let the rice absorb the water. Do not stir.

Check on your rice. Once the water is almost absorbed, taste a pinch to see if it is ready; if not, add ¼ cup more water and let it absorb.

Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

Step 2: Prepping and cleaning the fish

At the store, we asked for our Branzinos to be cut into halves and descaled; however, the fish still needs some preparation.

On a cutting board, slice diagonal lines into both sides of each branzino. Doing this will allow the inner meat to absorb the seasoning and cook thoroughly throughout.

Then, over the sink, squeeze half of a lime onto the Branzino and rub it all over. The lime juice will get rid of the fishy flavor.

Next, run the Branzino underwater to clean even more, and dab dry with a paper towel. Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

Step 3: Seasoning the fish

Once the Branzino is dry, rub mustard all over it. Make sure you rub the mustard on the inside and in its crevices. This will give your fish a crispy, flavorful taste.

This next step is optional, but it will give your Branzino extra flavor. Slice a lemon into eight parts and place two inside each section of the fish.

Lastly, add sliced onions inside and on top of the fish.

Your Branzino is now ready to be fried.  

Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

Step 4: Cook the fish

We cooked our fish on our grill stove outside because it does leave a strong fish smell for a few hours if fried inside.

Add 1 cup of oil to your saute pan. Let it get hot and then add your fish. Allow each side to cook for 10 – 15 minutes on each side to let it get crispy. We left ours for 15 minutes to get it to that golden-brown picture in the pictures below.

While the fish is cooking, you can prepare your homemade tortillas, or use already made ones. In a future post, I will go into the artistic process of making tortillas, so stay tuned.Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

Step 5: Enjoying your fish con cuidado

Once your fish is dorado y crujiente, you are all set up to enjoy.

Add your fish to a plate, with the salad, rice and tortillas, of course! It is a legit, finger-licking delight.

Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoy this dish. If you give it a try, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!!!

Step By Step Salvadoran Pescado Frito

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