Along with ceviche, Pescado Veracruzano (fish, Veracruz style) is perhaps the most well-known and well-loved fish dish in all of Mexico. There's a good reason for that: It's really, really good! If you are truly interested in Mexican cuisine then you simply must learn how to prepare it.
Originating in the city of Veracruz, in the Gulf coast state of the same name, the dish has a distinctly Spanish influence. The basic ingredients are the same with all cooks, though individual recipes may have variations in the details. Get yourself some good fresh fish fillets or a whole fish-- cabrilla (sea bass), dorado (mahi mahi) or red snapper (huachinango) are most often used-- and cover it with a rich, slightly spicy tomato-based sauce. It's simple, quick to make, and if you like fish you will love this!
- 8 fillets of firm white fish (cabrilla, dorado, huachinango)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
- 4 tomatoes, coarsely diced
- 3 medium white onions, cut into small wedges
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 8-oz can pitted green olives
- 1 8-oz can tomato puree
- 3 green bell peppers, julienned
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp marjoram
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Water, seafood broth or clam juice, up to about 2 cups
Salsa Veracruzana: Heat the oil in a heavy pan, then add the smashed garlic and onions. Cook until onions are translucent but not brown. Add remaining ingredients, except water or broth, reduce heat and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the flavors are well-blended and the consitency is thick. Add enough of the water or broth while cooking to prevent sticking, but not to make it thin. Add olives the last three minutes.
The Fish: In a large sauté pan, melt the butter or margarine with the minced garlic. Sauté fish quickly until white and flaky, about 3 minutes per side. Place fish on serving platter or individual plated, smother in the Salsa Veracruzana and serve immediately.
Excellent with a side of Spanish rice, sliced avocados and a small salad.
I've never visited a seaside resort in Mexico that didn't offer Pescado Veracruzano on the menus of its restaurants-- except possibly Rocky Point. Granted, I have not visited every restaurant in town and maybe I just missed the item on some menus because I wasn't looking for it. If that's the case, someone enlighten me so I can order it next time I'm in town. It's really that good!
If you have a favorite recipe for a Mexican or Mexican-inspired dish, I'd love to add it to our recipe box! email firstname.lastname@example.org (and put "recipe" in the subject box so I'll know what it's about)