The Meaning of Mojarra

After more than a week of fishing in Arkansas, I headed for Taqueria Jesus Maria as soon as I got back to town. I had Tex-Mex in mind, but I skipped the enchiladas when I saw the special on a whole fried mojarra. I love to eat the crispy fried fish chunks on a hot corn tortilla with lettuce, tomato, guacamole and lots of salsa. Slashing the meaty part of the fish to the bone, sprinkling it with seasoning, and then frying it whole is an easy and delicious way to cook a whole fish. Wish I had thought of it before trying to filet that big bluegill I caught while out of town.

The name "mojarra" actually describes a family of saltwater fish (Gerreidae). But the word is also used in Latin America to describe freshwater cichlids, including tilapia. Tilapia look very similar to saltwater mojarra and are about the same size. When you get a fried mojarra in a Houston taqueria, you are eating tilapia. If you do any fishing, be sure and make note of the technique. You get a lot more meat out of each fish frying them whole. Although, your dining companions might freak out at the sight of a whole fish.

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