Pescado à la veracruzana is one of the most famous seafood dishes from Veracruz on the Caribbean coast of eastern Mexico. Though Mexico is traditionally a Meso-American cuisine, there is a tremendous Spanish influence in the food ever since the Spanish conquered the Aztec empire.
The ingredients and seasonings in this dish personify this strong Spanish influence. It is a real favorite in our home and with the ease of preparation and delicious flavors and makes an excellent candidate for a weeknight meal or when the company is over.
Traditionally this dish is made with huachinango or red snapper fillets and the Veracruz sauce features Manzanella - Spanish green olives, jalapeños, and capers. It is incredible how a handful of flavors come together to create an incredibly flavorful & delicious sauce that is Veracruzana all the way.
As you know, red snapper is not what you call an economical fish and can cost a pretty packet! But don't let that put you off, I use grouper fillets all the time just like I have today and it turns out wonderfully. I prefer to reserve the red snapper fillets for when a company is over.
If you love to fish, I urge you to give this a go. I know that you'll enjoy this refreshing & beautifully flavored dish as much as we do.
Pescado a la Veracruzana ~ Fish Veracruz-Style
2 lbs red snapper filets or another firm white fish (I am using grouper fillets)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion
6 garlic cloves, peeled
4 large plum tomatoes (or 1 qty 28-oz. can whole tomatoes)
Fish fillets: Lay flat in a non-reactive baking dish. Halve the limes and squeeze the juice of one lime over the fish. Turn over and squeeze the juice of the 2nd lime over the fish. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Tomatoes: Place the tomatoes in a microwave-safe bowl with a lid. Microwave for about 4-5 minutes until the tomatoes are blanched. Allow cooling for a few minutes. Peel away the skin and roughly chop using kitchen shears. Retain all the juices in the bowl.
Garlic: Crush and finely chop.
Onion: Peel, discard the ends and the skin. Quarter. Finely slice as thin as possible into quarter circles.
Olives: Since it is hard to pit the olives, simply chop around the seeds cutting away as much of the olive as possible. Discard the seeds and set aside chopped olives.
Jalapeno: Roughly chop the jalapeno, setting aside in pickling liquid.
Capers: Drain away the liquid and set aside.
Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and sizzle. Add the onions and cook until translucent & soft but not golden - for about 10-12 minutes.
Add tomatoes (break up if canned) along with the olives, capers, jalapeños, jalapeño juice, parsley, oregano, and salt and ground black pepper.
Cover the pan and simmer on low heat for about 10-15 minutes to meld the flavors. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Halve large fish fillets if needed. Add the filets in a single layer.
Gently spoon some of the tomato mixtures over the fish. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 12-15 minutes.
The fish will be white, opaque, and flaky. Sprinkle with some more chopped parsley for presentation if desired.
Cook's Tip: Serve with either steamed rice or with warm corn tortillas - my favorite is pan-frying them in a little ghee on both sides for a few seconds till they puff up.