Do you want to up your seafood game? This Veracruz-style fish recipe should be one of your go-to recipes. It’s quick and easy to make and will please even the pickiest eaters. With its sweet tomatoes, briny olives and capers, and a touch of spicy pepper, it’s the perfect way to spice up your regular dinner routine.
Veracruz-style sauce is a classic Mexican sauce (pescado a la Veracruzana) that originated in the state of Veracruz, located on the eastern coast of Mexico! This region is known for its vibrant culinary scene and abundant seafood, and this sauce is one of its most famous exports.
- White Fish Fillets: Choose firm and flaky fish like flounder, tilapia, red snapper, sea bass, or cod. These are excellent sources of lean protein. Using fresh, locally-sourced fish is always a great way to support sustainable fishing practices and ensure the best possible flavor. So head to your local fish market and pick up your favorite type of white fish for this recipe.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Adds a rich flavor and is beneficial for heart health.
- Onion and Garlic: Besides adding depth to the flavor, they offer numerous health benefits.
- Poblano Pepper: Gives a mild heat. Poblano peppers contain the cancer-fighting antioxidant known as quercetin, and add vitamin A, C, and B2 to the dish.
- Oregano and Bay Leaf: Enhances the taste while providing antioxidants.
- Canned San Marzano Tomatoes: San Marzano tomatoes are an excellent pick for this recipe. Their sweetness, combined with a low acidity level, and vibrant red hue makes them a favorite. With fewer seeds compared to other tomato variants, they contribute to a smooth velvety consistency. Plus, they are packed with lycopene, a potent antioxidant, enhancing the health benefits of the dish.
- Capers and Green Olives: They bring a salty briny punch and are good sources of vitamin K.
- Parsley for Garnish: It brightens up the flavor and provides vitamin K and C.
- Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper: For seasoning.
- Sauté onion and poblano in olive oil.
- Add garlic, oregano, and bay leaf.
- Mix in crushed tomatoes, capers, and olives. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
- Season fish fillets with salt and pepper.
- Cook the fish in a skillet with heated olive oil.
- Serve the fish topped with the sauce.
Tips and Substitutions
To make the best Veracruz-style fish, follow these tips.
- To crush the tomatoes, place the whole can of tomatoes, juice included, in a bowl. Crush them slightly with your hands or with kitchen scissors. The result should be chunky but without any large pieces.
- In case you’re using dried oregano, incorporate it along with the garlic to allow its flavor to fully develop. However, if you’re opting for fresh oregano, it’s best to add it at the same time as the tomatoes.
- To reduce sodium content, drain capers from their brine, and soak them in water for 30 minutes.
- Prepare the sauce in advance and reheat when needed.
Serving Suggestions for Veracruz-style fish
- For a complete meal, serve with brown or black rice and a simple green salad. The rice will soak up all of the delicious juices from the fish, while the fresh salad provides a light and refreshing contrast.
- Other vegetables that pair well with this recipe: green beans, zucchini or yellow squash.
- You can also serve it with warm corn tortillas, roasted potatoes or crusty whole grain bread.
- And of course, don’t forget the margaritas or a cold cerveza to wash it all down!
The sauce can be prepared in advance, stored in the refrigerator, and reheated when needed. It can also be frozen for future use.
You can also store any leftover fish. After it has cooled down, place it in airtight containers and store it in the refrigerator. It is best to consume the stored fish within 3-4 days for optimal freshness and taste.
Variations for Veracruz-style fish
- Replace poblano with yellow or green peppers. Some people like to add pickled jalapeno pepper, but keep in mind this will add extra sodium!
- You can use fresh tomatoes when in season. Using canned tomatoes in this recipe, specifically San Marzano tomatoes, can have several advantages over fresh ones. Firstly, canned tomatoes are typically picked at peak ripeness and immediately canned. This preserves their full, fresh flavor which might be superior to the taste of fresh tomatoes, especially when they’re out of season or not fully ripe. Secondly, canned tomatoes come pre-peeled, which saves you time and effort. They also often have a softer texture which can help to create a smoother sauce. Lastly, canned tomatoes usually have a more concentrated flavor because they’re packed in tomato juice. This can enhance the overall taste of the dish. However, if you have access to high-quality, ripe fresh tomatoes, they can definitely be used as a delicious alternative in this recipe.
In conclusion, this Veracruz-style fish recipe is an easy and delicious way to enjoy healthy seafood. Explore more of our favorite recipes for a delightful culinary journey.
Other recipes to try
Veracruz Style Fish
- 1 lb white fish fillets (Flounder, tilapia, snapper…)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 1 cup chopped onion (one small onion)
- 1 Poblano pepper seeded and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 can San Marzano tomatoes, whole (28 oz can)
- 1/4 cup capers soaked in water and drained
- 1/2 cup green olives pitted and sliced
- 2 tbsp parsley for garnish
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- fresh ground pepper
- If you wish to reduce the sodium content of this recipe, drain capers from their brine, and soak them in water for 30 minutes.
- Place the whole can of tomatoes, juice included, in a bowl. Crush them slightly with your hands or with kitchen scissors. The result should be chunky but without any large pieces.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add onion, sliced poblano pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook a few minutes until onions are translucent and peppers are soft.
- Add garlic, dried oregano and bay leaf and cook another minute or two until fragrant. If using fresh oregano, add it in the next step.
- Add tomatoes to the pan, along with capers and olives (and fresh oregano if using). Season with some fresh ground pepper.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the sauce is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Season fish on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil into the pan. Add the fish. Cook for 3 minutes on both sides, or until the fish turns opaque and is thoroughly cooked. Please note that the cooking time may differ based on the thickness of the fish cut.
- Serve the fish topped with a quarter of the sauce. Sprinkle some minced parsley for garnish.