Snapper in veracruz tomato sauce recipe

Published August 10, 2010 1:01AM (EDT)

This dish is traditionally made with an entire fish. I prefer to use fillets. (If you do want to use a whole fish, the recipe is pretty much the same: just clean and scale the fish and then prick the sides in several places before marinating.) If using fillets, look for thick fillets that won't fall apart as easily. Rock fish is readily available in the U.S., but if you're willing to go nontraditional, the firm consistency of halibut is perfect. In winter, I replace fresh tomatoes with a 16-ounce can of cooked tomatoes. A large cast iron pot is ideal for cooking Veracruzana. Serve over rice with homemade black beans and fresh tortillas. I usually add a sprinkling of Parmesan to my own plate, but I realize that's probably blasphemous.


For the marinade:

  • 1 lime
  • Salt to taste

For the main dish:

  • 1 pound snapper fillets
  • 2 pounds of tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 ½ limes
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • ¼ cup of fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of capers
  • 1 handful of green olives
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon of chile powder (chipotle preferably)
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of chicken stock



  1. Preheat oven to 375. Cook a pot of white rice.

For the marinade:

  1. Put fish in dish.
  2. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Add juice of 1 lime.
  4. Set aside for 30 minutes.

For the sauce:

  1. Heat olive oil in pan.
  2. Add onions. Fry until translucent.
  3. Add garlic, chile, cumin. Fry another minute.
  4. Add tomatoes, chile powder, and ½ of total cilantro. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add stock, juice from ½ lime, bay leaf, green olives and capers.
  6. Cook on medium heat for 45 minutes.
  7. Salt to taste.


  1. Drain marinade from fish.
  2. Add fish to pan and cover with sauce.
  3. Add the rest of the cilantro. (But save a few leaves for garnish.)
  4. Transfer pan to oven; bake until fish is flaky (generally 10-15 minutes).
  5. Garnish with cilantro and serve over white rice.

By Felisa Rogers

Felisa Rogers studied history and nonfiction writing at the Evergreen State College and went on to teach writing to kids for five years. She lives in Oregon’s coast range, where she works as a freelance writer and editor.

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