Pan-Seared Red Grouper with Sofrito

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 25 min
  • Prep: 15 min
  • Cook: 10 min
  • Yield: 2 servings
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3 tablespoons olive oil

One 2 1/2- to 3-pound red grouper, scaled and gutted

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

3 to 4 small sweet chile peppers, stemmed

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced 

1 shot vodka, optional

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

2 to 3 leaves culantro, thinly sliced

1 small bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Score the fish a few times on each side, cutting down to the spine, and sprinkle both sides and the inner cavity liberally with salt and black pepper. Sear the fish in the skillet until the skin is crispy and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to the oven and bake until the flesh is flaky and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. While the fish is in the oven, make the sofrito. Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the tomatoes, chile peppers, garlic, onions and bell peppers and saute, stirring frequently, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and then add the vodka, if using, and carefully light it on fire to burn off the alcohol. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the butter, vinegar, oregano, culantro and cilantro. Toss to combine.
  4. Serve the whole fish topped with the sofrito.