Pescado Frito Guatemalan Style

Pescado Frito Guatemalan Style

by Tami Gilliam, s/v Heart of Gold

One of the first things you notice as you travel down the Rio Dulce River in Guatemala, is the large number of pescadors (fishermen) fishing the river in their cayucos.  One of the major staples in the local diet for the people that live along the river is Moharra, a fish that is very abundant in the river.  Moharra have a delicate white meat, but they do tend to be a bit on the boney side.

The cruiser's here at Monkey Bay Monkey Bay Marina decided we needed to learn to cook a traditional Guatemalan meal.  Yanira Arracely Arveaga graciously offered to teach us gringos how to clean & cook this delicacy. 

Moharra - Soon to be dinner!  Off to the fish market we went...Damon from s/v Bruadair did the negotiations with the pescadors and found us 12 freshly caught Moharra.  David, also from s/v Bruadair, and I had the pleasure of learning how to clean them. 

To gut the fish:

  1. Using a sharp knife, make a slit through the belly of the fish, from just under the jaw down past the anal fin. 
  2. Remove the entrails and using your knife scrape the inside of the fish clean.
  3. We left the head & tail on.  You could remove the head if you want, but be sure to leave the tail...when fried its crispy & very tasty.

Scaling the moharra.Scale the fish:

  1. Lay the fish flat on its side and using short strokes, move the knife from the tail to the head.  Watch out for the fins during this process as they are sharp and will stick you.
  2. A fish scaler is an extremely handy item.  I don't have one, but as soon as I'm back in the states, I'm going to get one.

Score the fish:

  1. Using your knife, make three slits on each side of the fish. 
  2. Squeeze a lemon/lime into a pan of cold water and place the cleaned fish into the water.
  3. Put in refrigerator or on ice until ready to cook.

Ingredients needed to prepare Moharra Frito

Serves 12 (1 fish per serving)

  • 3 onions (grated into dish)
  • Dozen limes (cut in half)
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Dried chicken consume
  • Spice Rub*
  • Flour
  • Oil for frying

* The rub contains 1 tablespoon each of:  Dried Oregano, Cilantro, Black Pepper, Red Chili Powder such as Cayenne.   Mix all dried ingredients together.  This rub can be made in advance, put into a jar and used for many different recipes.

Rub the fish on both the inside and outside with ingredients in this order:

  1. Onions
  2. Rub mixture
  3. Garlic powder
  4. Consume
  5. Salt

(When rubbing fish with ingredients, be careful not to rub back and forth on fish or you will get stuck with the fins.  Patting the mixtures onto the fish works best.)

 Squeeze fresh lime juice over the entire fish, both inside and out.  

Moharra floured, spiced and ready to fry.Let fish marinate for at least 20 min. then coat each fish in flour.  While you are coating the fish, heat oil in large skillet until oil begins to crackle.  If you put a pinch of salt in the skillet and it crackles the oil is hot enough.  If the salt sinks with no crackling the oil is not ready.  

Frying the moharra.Place fish in oil and fry until crispy, turn over and fry the other side.

This recipe would be great on hogfish or snapper! 


Deborah from s/v Argo getting ready to enjoy our fried Moharra.


Buen Provecho…

Thank you Cheri, s/v Namaste, for putting this recipe on paper for us and making sure we all got a copy.  With Cheri is Yanira & Steve from s/v Argo.

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