Hidden Gem Near Cancun: Fish Market Mar-Bella Raw Bar Grill

This restaurant was highly recommended to us by the host at our apartment the last night of our trip.  We didn’t make it to this restaurant that night since we decided to go somewhere within walking distance and this was a little further away. But when we went back to the Cancun area for Ryan’s brother’s wedding we were determined to leave the resort and find this place. The resort staff actually tried to talk us into another restaurant, but we insisted this was where we wanted to go and we were not disappointed. You walk into what looks like basically a convenience store and you would not know that there was a restaurant if you didn’t know to look for it. You walk up a small spiral staircase and once you are upstairs there is a small seafood counter to the left and the restaurant to the right. The restaurant is right on the water so you see the beach and the small fishing boats as you eat. You order from the list of all the fresh seafood at the counter. Items can be cooked in a variety of ways. Fish is on order by the kilo.  The server can tell you the different ways they can cook everything and offer recommendations. We were lucky enough to find a waiter who did speak English well and could help us out. Spanish would have helped with the majority of the staff there. We had a group of 5 of us so we ordered a ceviche, a whole fish, grilled and served with risotto and veggies on the side. We also tried a few chocolate clams: a few of us had them raw with a squeeze of lime juice and the others tried them grilled in a butter sauce. Everything was delicious and very fresh. We would highly recommend this restaurant if you are in the Cancun area.

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South African Biltong Recipe

Every time we travel there are iconic foods that stick out and define a location for us. Foods that we go back home and try to recreate as closely as possible. Empanadas in Chile, Zucchini balls with Tzatziki sauce in Greece, or Tacos Al Pastor in Mexico. For South Africa, it was dried meats: Droëwors and Biltong specifically. This post is a recipe for Biltong that we have tinkered with a bit and are still refining. Our friends that lived in South Africa for over a year had it last weekend and thought the spice profile was extremely close. We used Venison, but you could use any lean cut of beef or wild game:

Ingredients:

  • 3-5 lbs of lean Beef or Venison (you are looking for a lean roast: top round, eye of round, bottom round, etc.) It should be long enough to slice into nice slabs.
  • 1 cup rock salt or coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup – Whole Toasted Coriander seeds – crush w/ mortar and pestle (you can use coriander powder if you are in a pinch)
  • 1 cup of Apple Cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut the meat into strips. Slice them WITH the grain into roughly 2 x 1.5″ slabs. Ours were Venison and ended up a bit smaller than we would have liked
  2. Add about half the salt to a large bowl or pyrex dish
  3. Lay the slices in the salt, then cover with the rest of the salt- the slices should be well coated. Put in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes
  4. In another large bowl, add the Worcestershire Sauce and Apple Cider Vinegar
  5. Add in the baking soda and brown sugar, mix
  6. Remove the meat from the fridge, remove all the salt. They should have firmed up.
  7. Add the strips of meat to your brine, let them soak for 5-8 minutes. You may need to do this in batches. As you remove them, put them on a paper towel to soak up some of the moisture.
  8. Time to crush your coriander seeds: you can use a mortar & pestle; food processor, or just a rolling pin on a cutting board to get the seeds crushed in half with a bit of powder.
  9. Coat each steak strip with copious amounts of coriander. Each piece should be completely covered.
  10. With the pieces encrusted with coriander, crack some black pepper on both sides.
  11. Time to dry: either use a Biltong Box or Umai Dry Bag
  12. Slice THIN. It should be so thin it is slightly translucent. It’s not jerky!
IMG_1944
Venison Biltong in the Umai Dry bag
Biltong
Finished Biltong: slice it thin!

Dry them to your liking: some people prefer Biltong a bit more ‘wet’ while others like it completely dried. Using a biltong box that would range anywhere from 4-8 days. We did try another method while I work on building a biltong box: Umai Dry Bags. These things are awesome, we have dry aged steaks with them and made a few types of charcuterie. They are basically breathable vacuum seal bags that you leave in your refrigerator. We dried our Venison Biltong for 14 days (it will take a bit longer than a biltong box).

Umai Dry Bags on Amazon

Have you ever had Biltong?

-FWY