Pescado a la Veracruzana

The dish itself is the story of two worlds coming together — a fusion of the bountiful seafood of the Gulf of Mexico and tomatoes, which are native to the Americas, with Spanish ingredients such as olives, garlic, and capers. In this sense, pescado a la veracruzana also reflects the historical legacy of the time when the port of Veracruz was Spain’s gateway into Mexico.

Legend has it that the origins of this dish trace back to the Lenten traditions when locals sought satisfying alternatives to red meat during this period of abstinence. Inspired by Biscayne sauce from Spain, this savory medley of sautéed onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, olives, capers, herbs and spices, simmered until thickened, creates a hearty topping for fish filets. Garnished with vibrant cilantro or parsley, the flavorful dish is traditionally served alongside white rice or baby potatoes.  Unlike many other Mexican sauces, it doesn’t use any hot peppers.


– 4 filets of white fish (such as red snapper, sea bass or tilapia)

– Olive oil

– 1 onion, sliced

– 4 large cloves of garlic, sliced

– 4 tomatoes, diced

– 1 c. tomato puree

– ½ c. pitted green olives

– ½ c. capers in brine, drained

– ½ tsp dried oregano

– ¼ tsp dried thyme

– 1 bay leaf

– 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced

– (optional)  3 pickled güero chilis

  • Fry the onions in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until soft and translucent. Then add the sliced garlic and fry until slightly brown.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and sauté until softened.
  • Add the tomato puree, chiles, olives, capers, oregano, thyme and bay leaf. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes to reduce the amount of liquid and concentrate the flavors. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stir the fresh minced cilantro into the sauce for just a couple of minutes before serving
  • To achieve a fish that’s crispy on the outside, you need to get the filet surface very dry before frying by using paper towels to remove as much moisture from the surface as possible. Then lightly season with salt and pepper and cover with a thin layer of all-purpose flour.
  • Add oil to a frying pan over medium-high heat and fry both sides of the fish in the pan until cooked through.
  • Plate each filet, add a heaping scoop of the sauce on top and serve.


— by Sandra Gancz.


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