Cumin-Crusted Snapper with Lentil-Spinach Sauté and Mojo

Similar to a vinaigrette, a mojo combines oil, citrus juice, garlic and chiles. This mojo features Serrano chiles and cilantro. Taste the lentils frequently while cooking to avoid their becoming mushy.

Chef Ian Clark

  • Thumbnail for Cumin-Crusted Snapper with Lentil-Spinach Sauté and Mojo
    • Phases234
    • 4
    • 20 Minutes
    • 20 Minutes
    • 40 Minutes
    •  US  Metric
  • Nutritional information per serving

    • 13g
    • 18g
    • 5g
    • 29g
    • 29g
    • 440


  • Lentils:
  • ½ cup dried green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup sliced yellow onion
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, stemmed
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Mojo:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 small shallot, sliced
  • 1 Serrano chile*, seeded and sliced
  • 5 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 5 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro sprigs (leaves and tender stems)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt, to taste
  • Snapper:
  • 4 (4-ounce) pieces of red snapper, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil


  1. To cook the lentils, rinse and place in pot with two cups of water. Simmer until just tender. Drain off any excess water, place the lentils on a baking sheet or other flat surface and refrigerate. 

  2. To make the mojo, in a medium sauté pan, bring the olive oil, garlic and shallot to a simmer. Using a mortar and pestle, purée the chile, lime juice, vinegar, cilantro and cumin. When the mixture forms a paste, slowly add the hot oil mixture, grinding it with the pestle to combine. Season with salt. Set aside and keep warm.

  3. To make the snapper, lightly dust each piece with cumin, salt and pepper. Score the skin side of the fish. In a medium sauté pan, heat the virgin olive oil until almost smoking; add the fish, skin side down. Cook until the skin is brown and crispy, flip and cook 2–3 more minutes. Do not overcook. Set aside and keep warm.

  4. To complete the lentils, in a large sauté pan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil until just smoking. Add the garlic and onion and cook until just translucent. Add the lentils and lightly sauté about 1 minute. Add the spinach and water and cook until the spinach is just wilted, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. 

  5. To serve, divide the lentils in four portions. Place on plates with a piece of fish on top of each portion. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of mojo around each plate, with some on the snapper. 

*Wear rubber gloves when handling chile peppers and be careful not to rub your eyes.