Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fish a la Veracruzana

The combination of tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and capers gives this dish more of a Mediterranean appearance and flavor than Mexican. It shows the influence of the Hernan Cortes and the Spanish expedition had on the Gulf of Mexico region and and beyond.

Adapted from Rick Bayless "Mexico, One Plate At a Time" PBS series.

Fresh ingredients are the key to this dish. I was able to find some fresh whole red snapper, but you could use a variety of whole fish here. Sweet, ripe tomatoes are a key ingredient for a memorable sauce.

Have your fish cleaned, scaled, and washed. Remove fins from the side, top, and bottom. Put 3 slashes to the bone on both sides of the body to allow the marinate to penetrate the meat and encourage even cooking. Marinade each side of the fish with lime juice and salt. Cover with saran wrap and put in refrigerator for an hour.

In a frying pan, brown a thinly sliced onion and a few crushed garlic cloves. Add 4 cups of diced fresh tomatoes, a sprig of fresh marjorum, a few bay leaves, a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley, some mexican oregano, sliced kalamata olives, capers, and thin slices of canned jalepeno peppers. Once the tomatoes start reducing, stir in 1/2 cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt as necessary.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the marinated fish in a baking dish large enough to hold the entire fish. Cover with the Veracruz sauce and place in the oven for around one hour, based on a 4 pound fish.

Once cooked, put the fish on a serving platter and cover in the Veracruz sauce. Put some sliced kalamata olives, capers, and sliced jalepeno peppers over the top of everything.

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