Pan de cazón – Layered Tortillas with Fish Filling

Continuing with recipes from Southern Mexico, this is a very traditional dish from the prodigious cuisine of the Yucatan peninsula (states of Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo.)  Although “pan” means bread, the plate is assembled with a tower of corn tortillas, alternating with fish filling, black bean paste, and tomato sauce; the name might have originated from the shape of the tower, resembling a round bun when covered with sauce (as seen in the photo above), or perhaps from considering the layers as a whole, bread-like structure.   

When I shared my recipe for Quintana Roo Style Empanadas, I mentioned that cazón is the Spanish name for a number of edible small species of shark, and that here in Canada, to avoid the drudgery of prepping shark meat, and to ensure it is an environmentally sound source, I use other meaty white-fleshed fish, such as cod or haddock, instead of shark.  The preparation of the filling for this recipe is the same as for the empanadas (click here for full story and sustainability facts).  

Layered Tortillas with Fish Filling – Pan de cazón

Printable recipe: Layered Tortillas with Fish Filling – Pan de cazón  

Ingredients (for 4 portions)

12 corn tortillas
Salt and pepper, to taste
Oil, as needed
   Fish filling
1 lb (454g) cazón (shark), or other white flesh, firm fish, such as cod or haddock
White vinegar; if using shark, otherwise, omit
2 tomatoes; washed, stem spots removed, and chopped
2 sprigs epazote; washed, stems discarded, and leaves chopped; if not available, use parsley and a pinch of thyme
½ white onion; peeled and chopped
4 tomatoes; washed
¼ white onion; peeled
1 Habanero pepper, optional; washed
½ cup water
   Bean paste
2 cups black beans; cooked (click here for homemade, or drained from can)
1 cup water (or cooking liquid, if homemade)
1 avocado; washed
Habanero peppers; washed, stem and seeds removed, and sliced (use gloves to handle)

Prepare the sauce:  Place four tomatoes, a quarter onion, and Habanero pepper (if using, I skipped it) in a pot of boiling water over high heat, and cook until tomato skins begin to burst (photo below, left).  Drain water, and remove and discard tomato skins (photo below, right):

Remove stem spots from tomatoes (and Habanero pepper, if using), and transfer all veggies to a blender jar, adding half a cup of water (photo below, left).  Process until very smooth (photo below, right):

In a small pot, warm up two tablespoons of oil over medium heat, then pour the sauce, it should make a nice sizzling sound and gurgle in the hot oil (photo below, left).  Cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens (photo below, right): 

Season with salt, to taste, then pour into a jar or bowl and reserve.

Prepare the bean paste:  Place black beans and one cup of liquid in a blender jar (photo below, left); process until smooth (photo below, right):

Warm up two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat, then pour the beans in (photo below, left).  Reduce heat a little, and cook, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until a spreadable consistency is achieved (photo below, right):

Remove from heat and reserve.

Prepare fish filling: Place fish in a pot and add water, to cover; only if using shark, add a quarter of a cup of vinegar to the water, to help remove ammonia smell.  Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to medium; cook just until the fish becomes opaque and starts to flake (photo below, left).  In my case, I used thawed boneless cod filets, so I did not add vinegar, and it only took five minutes, but for shark, especially if in large pieces and with bone, it might take much longer.  Transfer cooked fish to a colander to drain liquid (photo below, right):

Allow fish to cool down, then remove bones and skin (if any) and shred meat into small pieces.  Reserve.

Warm up two tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add chopped onions, and sauté until translucent, then add chopped tomatoes (photo below, left).  Reduce heat to a simmer, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to fall apart, approximately ten minutes.  Add reserved fish (photo below, right): 

Stir to incorporate, seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.  Add chopped herbs, and mix in (photo below, left); continue cooking for another two minutes (photo below, right):

Remove from heat and reserve.

Assemble one portion at a time, right before serving:  Spread some sauce on serving plate (photo below, left), and set aside.  Warm up one tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat; add three corn tortillas, and turn, coating with hot oil, to crisp slightly (photo below, right):

Transfer one tortilla on top of prepared plate, then spread some bean paste on top (photo below, left).  Add some fish filling, and top with sauce (photo below, right):

Repeat with a second tortilla, and  more beans, fish and sauce, then top with the third tortilla, and cover the tower with a generous portion of sauce.  Garnish with a few pieces of freshly peeled and sliced avocado, and some Habanero pepper slices:

Repeat with the rest of the ingredients, for four portions of pan de cazón – “shark bread”, which are neither bread nor have shark meat in this case, but nevertheless are still delicious.

I am bringing my recipe to Full Plate Thursday #626 with Miz Helen @ Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #577, with Bev @ Eclectic Red BarnPam @ An Artful MomKatherine @ Katherine’s CornerAmber @ Follow the Yellow Brick HomeTheresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.

I am joining Fiesta Friday #470 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday.

I am sharing my recipe at What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up #405 with Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s