Fish and shellfish are a tasty and healthful addition to your diet. They are full of omega 3 fatty acids and high in many important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, which may help prevent depression, diabetes, and even cancer.
This week’s recipe adds a spicy South of the Border kick to baked fish. It was sent to CCSA as part of a series of emails from our resident chef, Dr. Linda Doody. She has been sharing her extensive collection of favorite recipes with friends, family, and the CCSA team as a means of maintaining connections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star”
— Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Fish Veracruz Style
Mexico One Plate at a Time - Rick Bayless (2014)
- Six 5- to 6-ounce fish fillets (This dish can be made with snapper, but the recipe suggests grouper, striped bass, or black bass as alternatives. Mahi mahi would also be good)
- Juice of 2 limes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced (White onions tend to have a sharper, more pungent flavor and are more tender than yellow onions. White onions are more commonly used in Mexican cooking)
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 3 pounds (6 medium-large round) ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 3 to 4 bay leaves (For a different flavor profile, substitute ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves [from Adventures in Mexican Cooking, Ortho Books, 1978])
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- 1 cup pitted roughly sliced green olives, plain or pimiento stuffed
- ¼ cup capers, drained and rinsed
- 3 pickled jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced (Jarred pickled jalapeño chiles are available in most grocery stores)
- 3 Tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- Marinate the fish fillets in the lime juice with about ½ teaspoon of salt for up to an hour (no more) in the refrigerator.
- For the sauce, heat the oil over medium in a 4- to 5-quart pot (e.g., Dutch oven). Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until just beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring several times. Raise the heat to medium high and add the tomatoes, herbs or spices, parsley, and half of the jalapeños, capers, and olives. Simmer briskly, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir in 1 cup water; simmer for 15 minutes more. Taste and season with salt. Remove from heat. The sauce can be made ahead and reheated before use.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove fish from the marinade and lay in a single layer in an oiled baking dish. Spoon about 5 cups of hot tomato sauce over the fish (save remaining sauce for another use) and bake until the fish flakes when pressed firmly but gently, about 10 minutes. Transfer each fillet to a dinner plate, spoon on sauce from the pan, and sprinkle with the reserved capers, jalapeños, and olives; decorate with parsley before serving.
If you are adventurous, you can substitute one 4-pound cleaned, scaled snapper, grouper, or other firm meaty fish for the fillets. Have the fishmonger cut out the gills and trim off the fins at the top, bottom, and alongside the gills. To marinate, cut parallel slashes across each side of the fish, cutting down through the flesh to the backbone. Put the fish into a large baking dish and drizzle both sides with lime juice and sprinkle liberally with salt (~1½ teaspoons per side). Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so, but no more than 4 hours. Lightly oil a roasting pan large enough to hold the fish comfortably. (If the tail sticks out of the pan, crimp a piece of oiled aluminum foil around it to prevent burning.) Cover the fish with the hot tomato sauce and bake in the center of the oven until the flesh flakes when gently but firmly pressed at the point where the body meets the head just above the gills (this is the thickest part), about 50 to 55 minutes. Carefully transfer the fish to a serving plate. Spoon on sauce from the roasting pan, sprinkle with the reserved capers, jalapeños, and olives, and decorate with parsley before serving.