Pescado a la Veracruzana, or Veracruz-Style Fish, is a yummy and healthy dish with tons of flavor. Not too spicy and absolutely delicious. Serve with rice.
Once when I lived in Tabasco, Mexico, my friend, Esme, wanted to do a road trip to Veracruz. We jumped in Esme’s old, beat up truck and started on the 5-hour drive.
There was no AC in the truck. Despite the intense heat and humidity of Southern Mexico, we rolled the windows down.
After a few hours, we were drenched in sweat and gulping water by the gallons. Then Esme pulled over and said she couldn’t drive anymore. Heat exhaustion had kicked in and she was about to pass out.
The problem: I didn’t drive stick shift! I got behind the wheel. Clunk… the engine shut off. Clunk… Clunk.. It turned off again.
On the third time, no clunk and somehow it started going. I drove to the nearest village where we recovered.
Whenever I make this dish, I vividly remember the time I learned to drive stick shift.
How to Make Pescado a la Veracruzana
This is the frozen tilapia package I get from Trader Joe’s.
To make Pescado Veracruz, you can make this dish with frozen fish.
The sauce for Pescado Veracruzano is flavor flavorful and will take away that yucky frozen fish flavor.
Fresh fish is fine too.
Other fish you can use:
- White cod
- Red snapper
- Sea bass
Or any white fish. However, red snapper is traditionally used.
I do not recommend using an oily fish like salmon.
I’m using fresh tomatoes because they were on sale. Gotta a save my pesos whenever I can.
You can also use a can of stewed tomatoes to make Pescado a la Veracruzana (or Fish Veracruz).
That brings us to the name:
You will hear different names for this dish.
- Pescado a la Veracruzana is the way that I know it.
- Some people will call it Pescado Veracruz.
- I’ve also heard Fish Veracruz and Pescado Veracruzana.
- Pescado ala Veracruz
- Flounder Veracruz
- Only to confuse you more, there are people who also refer to this dish as Pescado Veracruzano.
You must understand that we have a lot of different names for things in Spanish. Mexicans like nicknames. Everyone has a nickname. lol.
Origins of Pescado a la Veracruzana
This dish is a collaboration of the new and old worlds.
The Old World had capers and olives.
The New World had tomatoes and chiles.
Veracruz is located on the Gulf of Mexico. It played an extremely important part in the Spanish conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés.
They founded Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz on May 18, 1519. It was the first Spanish town in what is now Mexico.
Capers are very salty. Be sure to drain them well before adding them to the casserole plate.
The cuisine of Veracruz is unique in that it is a mixture of indigenous foods, Spanish cuisine, and other cultural influences.
Whenever you hear a recipe is “Veracruz-style,” it usually means it has a tomato, olive, and capers mixture.
Mainly to reference that the dish is both European and indigenous in nature.
• Transfer the tomato mixture to a large casserole dish and place the fish on top.
• Add some salt to the fish and bake for 15 minutes or until fish is done.
Notice how I’m not using a lot of salt? That’s because you don’t need add extra salt.
The olives and capers are salty enough.
Make sure you’re using pitted olives. You don’t want to be taking out olive pits at the table.
Although, I really like the pimento stuffed olives, but that’s just personal choice.
On the left is chile güero. It’s a milder chile and not very spicy. Traditionally, Fish Veracruz uses this chile.
I sometimes have a hard time finding it. To substitute chile güero, use pickled jalapeño instead.
The Pescado a la Veracruzana come out just as tasty.
How to Make Pescado a la Veracruzana on the stove
- Follow the recipe instructions below up to step 9.
- Add a splash of water to the skillet and mix to combine.
- Add the fish on top of the tomato mixture.
- Reduce the heat and cover.
- Cook on low-medium heat for 7-10 minutes, or until fish is fully cooked
Pescado a la Veracruzana will blow your tastebuds away.
It is a favorite during Lent with just the right amount of spice.
This dish is also perfect for summer or when you are trying to get ready for summer. Wink. Wink.
Serve with a side of rice, veggies, and lime wedges. Enjoy!
Pescado a la Veracruzana will last 3-4 days in the fridge. Reheat on the stove or microwave, and enjoy!
How to Freeze Pescado a la Veracruzana?
- Place everything in a plastic bag.
- Remove as much air as possible.
- It will last for 2-3 months in the freezer.
- Thaw in the fridge and reheat on the stove, or microwave for 5-6 minutes.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic clove, finely diced
- 6 Roma tomatoes, diced (or 1 can stewed tomatoes)
- 4 pickled jalapeño, finely diced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup olives, sliced
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 4 tilapia fillets
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven 350 F degrees.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan.
- Add the onion and garlic.
- Stir for one minute.
- Add the tomatoes.
- Mash the tomatoes using a potato masher. If using canned tomatoes, skip this step.
- Add pickled jalapeños, oregano, bay leaf, olives, and capers.
- Let everything simmer for 2 minutes.
- If the sauce becomes too thick, add a splash of water to thin it out.
- In a large casserole dish, add the tomato mixture and top with the fish.
- Season the fish with salt and pepper.
- Spoon some of the sauce over the dish.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until fish is fully cooked.