Grilling Gold in Uruguay

3 Jul

I’ve already posted a few lines on this wonderful Uruguayan invention, the “parrilla” (See “Parrillada in Uruguay“), a traditional system for preparing the not less marvelous Uruguayan beef. But, there is much more.

One of the activities I enjoy is fishing, what I usually do at Cassino Beach (GPS 32”.162283 Lat. S, 52.110901 Long. W), the largest beach in the world, extending for over 200 km, from the Patos Lagoon estuary to the Chuy River, at the Brazilian border with Uruguay. This time I decided to try my luck with freshwater fishes, and thus headed to the city of Salto (GPS 31.389126 Lat. S, 57.958374 Long. W), right beside the Uruguay River, which separates Uruguay and Argentina. The reason is the existence of the “Salto Grande” dam, an hydroelectric plant shared by these 2 countries, as it has created an excellent environment for fishing “dourados” (in Portuguese) or “dorados” (in Spanish).

Salto Grande dam at the Uruguay River (border between Uruguay and Argentina), during low water

Salto Grande dam at the Uruguay River (border between Uruguay and Argentina), during low water

“Dourado”, wich means “golden”, is also known as the “tiger of the river” or “tiger-fish” due to its voracious appetite. Its scientific name is Salminus brasiliensis (but also known as Salminus maxillosus or Salminus affinis), which means “little salmon from Brazil”. In fact, it belongs to a quite different fish group, being much more related to the piranhas than to salmons and trouts, although they play a similar biological role in the environment (same niche). It’s very appreciated in sport fishing due to its bravery and resistance, as well as its size (it may reach up to 20 kg).

Enough of information, lets fish. Well, after spending a whole morning on a small boat on the Uruguay River, just beside the Salto Grande dam, one 4 kg fellow decided to bite my hooks. Wonderful catch.

No, I'm not lying.  And here is the proof.

No, I'm not lying. And here is the proof (note the beautiful golden color = dourado)

What to do with it? As we were in Uruguay, grill in a “parrilla”, of course. And so it was. We (our friends Renan and Leila, my wife and I) brushed the fish with some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper only, lighted a good wooden fire in a “parrilla”, and put the fish to grill over the charcoal for a few of minutes. Impossible to have a fresher dinner.

Grilling the golden tiger in a "parrilla"

Grilling the golden tiger in a "parrilla"

The taste was mild and clean, and was matched with a demi-sec Spanish cava.

Although we were fishing in fresh water the price was rather salty, as the fish alone costed US$ 160,00 (the cost for renting the boat and the fishing gear for me and my friend). There was also the cava, salad, wood…..well, you can add this up, if you care to know the total amount spent. But I bet you won’t get it right, as I can’t even imagine the price of the adventure, the taste and specially of the good memories.


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