What’s Cooking in… San Felipe, Mexico

By Sandra Scott
This item appears on page 49 of the May 2018 issue.
Maria Luisa Guzman with the fish balls mixture. Photos by Sandra Scott

In December 2017, several members of our family decided to spend Christmas in San Felipe, where our oldest son has a vacation house. San Felipe is a small, sleepy fishing village on the east coast of the Baja Peninsula, 125 miles south of Calexico. 

The area had changed from the one and only other time my husband, John, and I had visited, 20 years earlier. At that time, we stayed at the only motel in the area. (Interestingly, there was a sign in our room that said, “Do not build a fire on the floor.” I guess someone must have tried that or there would have been no need for the sign.)

It was obvious that in the intervening 20 years, there had been the beginning of a building boom, but all that changed when the housing bubble burst, as evidenced by the unfinished buildings. Vacation homes in San Felipe are now reasonably priced. 

As for things to do in the area, besides enjoying fishing and water activities, travelers can visit the Valley of the Giants, where there is a forest of cardón (Pachycereus pringlei), the tallest cacti in the world, found only in the Baja California and Sonoran deserts. The slow-growing plants can reach a height of 60 feet or more and weigh up to 25 tons. 

A serving of Seven Seas Soup.

When the tide was out in front of our son’s vacation home where we were staying, family members went out on the sand to gather clams for dinner. The clams, while small, made an excellent meal.

At one point, we went into the village to a restaurant for dinner, where we had what my son said was his favorite meal while in San Felipe. The dish (about $6) was the Seven Seas Soup served at Chuy’s (Av. Mar de Cortes Sur 401, Segunda Secc, Verdugo, 21100 San Felípe, B.C., Mexico; phone +52 686 110 9164), a small restaurant owned by Jesus Lozana and Maria Luisa Guzman. One of their three sons, Gabriel Lozano, is the chef, another one waits on tables, and the other is the bookkeeper. 

We were welcomed in the kitchen to watch the soup being prepared. Maria Luisa Guzman also explained how to make the fish balls that go into the soup.

Sandra Scott can be reached by email at sanscott@gmail.com.

Fish balls
2 cups boneless white sh, cooked and aked 2 cups cooked rice
2 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tbsp water 1 tsp chopped cilantro
1 beaten egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Form into 1-inch balls. Set aside.

Seven Seas Soup
1 tbsp butter or cooking oil 1⁄2 cup tomato, diced
1⁄2 cup onion, diced
1⁄2 cup celery, diced
1⁄2 green pepper, diced
1⁄2 cup carrot, sliced
8 cups sh or chicken broth
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp cilantro (save a little for
Chili pepper, minced, to taste
2 tbsp lemon juice
1⁄4 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp salt
1 cup baby octopus, cut into 1-inch
1 cup squid, sliced
2 lbs white sh, cut into 2-inch pieces 6 clams
2 medium-size crabs, cut in half
6 sh balls
4 or 5 large shrimp

In a deep pan, heat butter or oil and sauté tomato, onion, celery, pepper and carrots for about one minute. Add broth, garlic, cilantro, chili pepper, lemon juice, oyster sauce and salt. Bring to a boil, then add all seafood except shrimp and cook for about 10 minutes. Add shrimp, and cook until shrimp is pink. To serve, remove seafood with a slotted spoon and place in bowls. Pour broth with veggies over it. Garnish with reserved cilantro and serve.

Clamming in front of the vacation cottage — San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico.
Chuy's Place Restaurant in San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico.
Seafood to be added to the soup.
Ingredients boiling.