The reaction I get to this dish when I mention it is “wait, did you say shark?” Yup, shark. I was compelled to try it when I saw it on sale because shark meat was new to me and I’m always up for something new. I wasn’t quite sure what it would be like, so I opted for some strong, South American flavors–a spicy, orange marinade before the shark hit the grill and a zesty cousin of chimichurri sauce: pebre sauce!
Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed by shark and won’t be in any rush to have it again (but I’ll still happily watch them). If you’ve never had it either, it’s dense and more “meat”-like in texture compared to fish–not at all delicate or flaky (even compared to the density of swordfish). It has a very mild flavor, only slightly reminiscent of fish, but really, it’s quite bland. I do think this recipe would still be quite well suited to other more substantial kinds of fish (e.g. swordfish, salmon, etc) and perhaps even a nice cut of beef, so I’d recommend that to any interested readers unless you already know you enjoy shark.
So the blandness of the shark aside, how was the rest of the recipe? Quite good–the marinade infused a citric, lightly fruity, gentle heat while the pebre sauce was very strong, fresh, and forward flavored–sweet, sour, spicy–it’s a tough one to describe. Like chimichurri, the simplicity of the sauce makes the intensity of it’s flavor a surprising delight. I’d actually originally meant to make chimichurri, but not having everything on hand, I was quickly swayed when I saw what pebre had to offer.
- ~1 lb shark meat
- Orange juice (enough to cover)
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 habanero peppers
- 2 cloves garlic
- olive oil
- Pebre sauce
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 shallot
- 1 handful cilantro
- 1 jalapeño
- 1 serrano
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
Begin by portioning the shark. Set it aside in a bag/container with all of the chopped up marinade ingredients and let it rest in the fridge for an hour.
While you wait, make the pebre sauce as it will benefit from having some time to sit as well. Get some water boiling, slit an X on the tomatoes, drop them in the water for 30-60 seconds, and then transfer them to some ice water to stop the cooking. In a moment, you should have no trouble peeling off the tomato skins. Then, very finely mince the shallot, jalapeño, serrano, and cilantro (if you want it very fine, consider pulsing these in the food processor very briefly).
Now because my wife loathes onions, I ride a fine line and use shallots in just about everything I cook…but I still have to be careful that the flavor isn’t too strong or they’ll wind up banned from the house just like onions, and then what would I do? (Fall on my chef’s knife, I suppose!) So rather than keeping them raw, I briefly sautéed the shallots in a bit of olive oil to take the edge off a little, but you certainly don’t need to do the same.
In a bowl, toss the minced veggies along with the very finely minced tomato, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and season this to taste. Let it sit for an hour or so before you use the sauce as it will improve with a bit of time.
When time is up, remove the shark from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Warm up your grill, season the shark, and lightly oil it.
Grill the shark for about 5 minutes per side. Then plate it, scoop on a generous helping of pebre sauce, and enjoy!