- Food and Cooking
Fish Main Dish Recipes
Vera Cruz Has A Long History
Easy Fish Main Dish Recipes
My friends are always asking me for ideas on how to make fish dishes for their families. They love fish and appreciate the health benefits but do not want the trouble of preparing single servings. They are all looking for the seafood version of a roast chicken or pot roast. Something they can prepare ahead of time and then cook in the oven later at meal time.
There are some great seafood dishes fitting this bill that are delicious, easy to make and represent some of the best regional cuisine I know. I have included here one of my favorite dishes. I have served this over the years at home and in the restaurants I have worked. Along with the recipe I have included short-cuts for making the short version. The long version will have recipes for how to make the dish from scratch and the short-cuts will tell you how to make the dish using time-saving prepared ingredients. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have in the past and will in the future.
Cook Time : Vera Cruz Sauce
- Prep time: 30 min
- Cook time: 1 hour
- Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
- Yields: Six 4 ounce servings
Vera Cruz is a popular seaside region of Mexico. The state is situated along the Gulf Of Mexico just to the west of the Yucatan Peninsula. Pescado Veracruzana is fish in the style of the seafaring and fishing region of Vera Cruz. I know two ways to make this dish and both are fantastic. The first is to deep fry a whole fish and then serve it with the sauce. The second is to bake the fish in the Vera Cruz sauce and serve it in the baking dish. Either way this dish consists of a whole fish and Vera Cruz sauce. The sauce is a rich, velvety sauce in between salsa and enchilada sauce. For the quick version you could use a combination of the two instead of making your own.
What Is The Best Fish For This Dish
Just about any type of fish will do. Just make sure it is fresh. Check the gills to make sure they are red and check the eyes for cloudiness. The cloudier the eyes the older the fish. I like to use snapper, tilapia and mackerel just to name a few. In the spring and summer when I catch blue fish at the beach they work really well too. I also use trout when I catch them too. It is usually possible to get whole tilapia at the super market. Whichever you choose the fish should be big enough to feed the whole family or if not get two.
Easy Preparation and Serving
You do not have to use a whole fish. This dish can be easily prepared in the same way with smaller fish, filets or even shrimp, clams and crabs. The key is serving it with the sauce and garnishes for making tacos. Soft and crunchy tacos shells, rice, beans and cheese are all great accompaniments for Pescado Vera Cruzana. I also like to serve a fruit salsa, limes wedges and chopped cilantro. A little salad or cabbage slaw on the side makes this a great meal and one your friends and family will not soon forget.
- 1 whole (2-3#) fish (snapper, mackerel, tilapia, catfish), gutted and dressed, side fins removed
- 1 yellow onion, small dice
- 2 ribs of celery, small dice
- 1 poblano pepper, seeded and cored, small dice
- 1 tbls garlic, chopped
- 1 tbls chili powder, mild
- 2 tbls cumin, ground
- 1 tbls coriander seed, ground
- 2 tbls tomato, paste
- 2 oz tequila, optional
- 2 medium tomato, seeded, cored and small chop
- 3 cups stock or broth, chicken, vegetable or fish
Just How Family Friendly Is This Fish Main Dish Recipe
- For the sauce. Start with a medium-hot pan and begin sauteing onion, celery, poblano and garlic. They should be browned and thoroughly cooked.
- Next add the chili powder, cumin and coriander. Stir them in and let them toast a little. Move on to the next step once the aroma develops.
- Now add the tomato paste. Stir it in and let it cook for a minute or two. Once the tomato is browned a bit add the tequila and stand back. If you are using a gas stove be sure to remove the pan from the stove before adding the tequila or you may burn off your eyebrows.
- Now add the chopped tomato and the stock. Bring the sauce to a simmer and give it a taste for salt and pepper. Don't add too much now because the sauce will simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. The longer the better.
- While the sauce is simmering prepare the fish. If you are using whole fish trim off the side and top fins, remove the gills and cut some slits in the sides to aid in the cooking. For filets simply pat them dry and place them in the baking dish you have chosen.
- When the sauce is ready pour it over the fish, making sure to cover all parts. Bake at 450f for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your fish.
Tips And Short Cuts
- To save time you can make the sauce up to a week ahead of time. Letting it sit in the coldest part of the fridge for a day or two will only enhance the flavors.
- The sauce recipe may make more than you need. Store any extra in a tight container for up to week. Use on rice, chicken or steak. Also goes well with lamb and cous cous.
- Skip the sauce making step by buying a prepared one. Your favorite salsa, enchilada or picante sauce will make a fine substitute for the Vera Cruz sauce here. I have found that a blend of 1 can (5-7oz) of enchilada sauce, 1 can (4-6oz) of diced green chilis and a small can (10-12oz) of salsa works really well.
This Fish Main Dish Makes A Great Family Style Meal
A few simple additions make this a great communal style meal for entertaining your friends or wowing your family. The best part is that the leftovers keep well and are even better the next day. Imagine packing a restaurant quality Mexican meal to take with you to work. Yummy!
- Rice- Use a saffron or yellow rice mix, there are lots to choose from. Read the ingredients and make sure there is no MSG.
- Beans - refried or whole beans are good with this. There are lots of low-fat and no-fat varieties of refried beans. For something different use refried black beans. If you choose seasoned or flavored beans also check for MSG. You would be surprised just how many canned goods are "extra tasty" because of the MSG.
- Salad or Slaw - Some green salad on the side makes the plate look good and adds some extra health benefits. For an "authentic" Vera Cruz style meal make a Mexican style cabbage slaw.
- Tortillas - Corn or flour tortillas are fine. A like a little crunch sometimes and others not. To prepare the tortillas wrap 3-4 individually in some light foil, keeping them flat. Make one for each person and heat them up in the oven just before serving. This will work for corn or flour. To go the extra step grilled or griddled tortillas makes a nice touch.
- Limes - put a bowl of lime wedges on the table and see how many people add them to their tacos!
- Fresh cilantro - This is a really nice touch and addition to any taco. It does not take much, a small bowl is all you will need. The rest could be saved for later or used to garnish other parts of the meal.
- Guacamole - Some fresh guacamole or even just diced avocado will be a hit with everyone.