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Rafael Covarrubias

Courtesy of chef Rafael Covarrubias

Whole Sea Bream 'Al Pastor' with BBQ Guacamole, XOXO Sauce, Gooseberries & Currants

Chef Rafael Covarrubias is the S.Pellegrino Young Chef for the North America region. 

11 January, 2021
Average: 3.8 (20 votes)

Type of dish

serves for



Sea bream
1, cleaned, gutted & butterflied
Pastor marinade
Guajillo pepper
2, dry
2, dry
White onion
Achiote paste
30 g
BBQ guacamole
Roma tomatoes
White onion
White currants
For assembling
Aromatic herbs
cilantro, mint, parsley
XoXo sauce
Fresh Nixtamalized Tortillas

Rafael Covarrubias from Mexico shares his easy recipe for sea bream ‘al pastor’ served with BBQ guacamole, tart berries and xo sauce - perfect for sharing with friends and family during a weekend get together around the grill. 

Now stationed in Canada, the young chef describes his cooking style in flavour and technique as influenced by his upbringing, although not necessarily traditional Mexican, as showcased perfectly in the dish he shares here.

Putting a lighter and healthier spin on a traditional BBQ, Covarrubias swaps pork for Sea Bream in a Mexican inspired 'al pastor' marinade, which he says is perfect for fish as it’s still not super-heavy, but has nice acidity and a little kick to it.

The ‘Achiote’ paste made from annatto seeds also resonates with the chef's homeland, and is the same paste used to make ‘cochinita pibil’, his all-time favourite dish, which he would ask for every birthday growing up, he explains. “Nowadays, every time I visit home during the holidays there’s some waiting for me in the fridge as I arrive,” he laughs. 

The tortillas are 100% nixtamalized, something which is not easy to find in Canada, he admits, but well worth trying to locate. The fruit can also be changed according to the season, or even omitted if it’s hard to source. Also, if you don’t have a barbecue, try using an oven with the broiler setting instead, which should work just as well.

Learn how to make Covarrubias' whole Sea Bream 'al pastor', step by step, in the recipe below.

Step 01

toast Chillies

Courtesy of chef Rafael Covarrubias

Toast chillies with a touch of oil, add onion and garlic in a small pan, cover with water, and bring up to a simmer for 5 minutes. 

Step 02

Blend chillies

Courtesy of chef Rafael Covarrubias

Transfer to a blender, add achiote, and process until smooth. Set aside.

Step 03

grill avocado and tomatoes

Courtesy of chef Rafael Covarrubias

Prepare your grill. I like to add a mix of charcoal and cherry wood to add a tad of smokiness. Once the coals are at the right temperature, clean your grates and start with the guacamole. Cut your avocado in half and in a small bowl season it with salt and olive oil. Do the same with jalapeños, onion and tomatoes. Try to grill on high heat as we only want the char on the vegetables rather than to cook them. Once everything is charred, transfer to a tray and let them cool for a few minutes. 

Step 04

Mix ingredients

Courtesy of chef Rafael Covarrubias

Mash one half of the avocado and small dice the rest of the ingredients, top with XO sauce and fruit. Season with salt to taste, olive oil and lime juice. Set aside.

Step 05

grilling fish

Courtesy of chef Rafael Covarrubias

Place your fish on a grilling basket if you have one, if not, directly on the grill will do. Brush your fish flesh with marinade and place skin side down on the grill. Cook until the skin is nice and crispy. Flip the fish and allow to cook for two minutes. Set aside and while it rests, heat up your tortillas on the grill.

Step 06


Courtesy of chef Rafael Covarrubias

To make a taco, place some of the fish on tortilla, spoon on some guacamole and garnish with mixed herbs. Enjoy.

This marinade also pairs really well with poultry and pork.

Happy cooking.

Step 07

Final dish Covarrubias

Courtesy of chef Rafael Covarrubias

The final dish.

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