Mexican Fish Veracruz is a light and flavourful way to prepare fish. The Spanish influence shows in the zesty olives and capers. Bring a spoon to catch the last delicious drops of tomato broth.
Last week we were lucky enough to be lolling in the Mexican sunshine again. One glorious week of fiesta and beach, plus a beautiful Mexican/Norwegian wedding.
June might not be the time of year most people think of going to Mexico, but let me tell you – it was wonderful. Hot? Yes. Humid? Very. Less expensive? Yes. Warm ocean water? Absolutely! Fun, colourful, fantastic? Totally. Crowded? Not at all. Same warm and friendly Mexican people as ever? For sure!
It was fiesta time!
The son of dear friends from Mexico married his Norwegian sweetheart at a huge Mexican/Norwegian wedding in Puerto Vallarta, which included guests from eleven different countries.
We were the Canadian contingent, flying down to Mexico for a week with two other couples, also dear friends. Wedding festivities lasted for three days, with a ‘getting to know each other’ fiesta the night before the wedding, the midday ceremony and evening reception on the day of the wedding, and a farewell brunch the day after.
Amazing memories from this joyful international wedding. And then on top of it, we had the added thrill of spending days on the beach and exploring the markets in neighbouring towns during the rest of our week.
Street stands everywhere sold fresh roasted corn with lime, mayonnaise, chili, and queso.
At one of the beachside restaurants in Bucerias (didn’t note the name – too busy having fun and cervesas), one of our group had the Fish Veracruz.
It was baked in foil, with the vegetables and sauce piled on top of a large white fish filet. The piquant flavour reminded me of the lovely cooking class we had last year on our visit to Puerto Vallarta. We had made a version of that flavourful, Spanish-influenced fish dish in our class. Margarita’s Fish Veracruz was very simple, so I revisited that recipe, adding a few other Mexican ingredients to amp up the flavours and it turned out DELICIOUS, winning rave reviews from my chief recipe taster with requests to make it more often.
Fish Veracruz originated in the state of Veracruz on the southeastern coast of Mexico, the port where the Spaniards landed in the 1500’s. The addition of the olives and capers show the Spanish influence of this tasty fish dish.
You can make this dish easily at home. Slice up some veggies. Drain olives and capers:
Stew them with tomatoes and spices.
Fry up some firm white fish filets (I used red snapper here).
Lay the cooked fillets on top of the stewed vegetables, heat through, and enjoy – with a good squeeze of fresh lime juice, some diced onions, and a squirt of Mexican hot sauce.
Even if you’re not heading off to a Mexican vacation any time soon, you can still make this wonderful dish and pretend you are partying at a vibrant tropical fiesta.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: Fish Veracruz is an adaptable recipe. You can omit the potatoes and carrots (or add peas as in the version from Bucerias in the photo). You can use more or less olives or capers. You can serve the fish and sauce separately, or serve individual fish filets with the sauce spooned on top. If omitting the potatoes and carrots, you can chop the bell peppers more finely and make the vegetable stew more sauce-like.
You can use any type of firm white fish, like red snapper, cod, halibut, tilapia, basa, or mahi mahi. You can even use salmon, if you like.
Just don’t forget the olives and capers and make sure to add a good squeeze of lime juice to serve.
Mexican Fish Veracruz Style
- 2.2 lbs (1kg) firm white fish fillets (like red snapper, sea bass, mahi mahi, cod, tilapia, basa)
- 1 large can (796ml/28oz) diced tomatoes (or 4 cups/1 litre packed, diced fresh plum tomatoes)
- 1 cup water
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus more for salting the fish
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
- 2 bay leaves
- 24 pimiento stuffed green olives, halved (about 1/3 of a cup)
- 4 tablespoons capers (drained if pickled; rinsed & drained if salted)
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 orange bell pepper
- 1 medium onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 medium potatoes (firm and waxy type, not baking potatoes)
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- chopped fresh onion
- lime wedges (about ½ lime per serving)
- bottled hot sauce (like Valentina or Cholula brand)
- warm corn tortillas – optional (or crusty bread, gluten-free if necessary)
Put tomatoes and their juice, the water, and garlic cloves into a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Using an immersion blender, whiz up the tomatoes and garlic until roughly pureed. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can whiz them in a regular blender or mince the garlic and leave the tomatoes diced for a chunkier sauce.) Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, ½ teaspoon of the salt, the pepper, oregano, marjoram, and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes, to combine the flavours.
While the sauce is simmering, prepare the vegetables. Halve the olives and drain the capers. Core the bell peppers and cut them into long thin strips. Cut the onion in half and slice each half crosswise into ¼ inch (½cm) thick slices. Peel the carrot and cut it into 2 inch (5cm) lengths, then cut the lengths into long thin strips. Cut the potatoes into french fry sized batons.
Add the olives, capers, and cut vegetables to the tomato sauce. Give it a stir, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
While the vegetables are simmering, heat a non-stick skillet with 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Cut the fish fillets into large chunks and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Cook until opaque on the first side, flip them and cook a minute or two more, just until opaque on the outside. The fish should still be slightly undercooked. Transfer the fillets gently to a plate, trying to keep them from breaking up. Use the remaining tablespoon of oil to cook the rest of the fish in one or two more batches.
When the vegetables are tender, stir in the parsley. Lay the partially-cooked fish fillets, and any of the accumulated juices, gently on top of the simmering vegetables. Spoon some of the tomato sauce over to moisten the fish fillets. Cover the Dutch oven and cook the fish and vegetables for 5 more minutes.
*Or fully cook the fish filets, and serve with the vegetable stew on the side to spoon over the fish at the table.
Serve in large shallow bowls, with a small bowl of chopped fresh onions and lime wedges to squeeze on top.
Pass the hot sauce for anyone who’d like to add a little zip to their Fish Veracruz.
Serves 5 to 6.
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