One-Pot Wonders

Huachinango a la Veracruzana (Red Snapper, Veracruz Style)

October  8, 2009
5 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

This might be my favorite recipe on earth. It's an adaptation of a recipe from an old cookbook of Latin American recipes that my mom has had for years. I grew up on snapper Veracruz, and since learning to make it myself, I've been tweaking my recipe ever so slightly each time I make it. The stew has both the mellow sweetness of cooked olives, and the brininess of fresh olives, several of which are added at the very end of cooking. The original recipe calls for whole red snapper, which indeed makes for a beautiful presentation, but the dish is just as tasty, and a bit more practical, with skin-on fillets. —Rivka

What You'll Need
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 unsprayed lemon, juiced, peel reserved
  • 1 unsprayed lime, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 skin-on fillets red snapper, scaled and cleaned well
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 pinch dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree (fresh is best)
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes, fresh if available
  • about 5 pickled jalapenos, sliced (adjust to taste)
  • 1 cup green olives, with pimento if available
  • 1/4 cup olive brine
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  1. In large nonreactive bowl, combine garlic, lemon juice, lime juice, water, and cloves and mix to combine. Reserve the lemon rind -- you'll add that back in at the end. Add snapper fillets, coat each fillet with marinade, and leave to marinate in the fridge about 10 minutes.
  2. In deep saute pan or shallow braising pan, preferably non-stick, over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. When oil is hot but not smoking, add fillets skin side down, in a single layer, and cook until skin has crisped and released from pan, about 5 minutes. If necessary, do this step in batches -- you really don't want to crowd the pan.
  3. When skin has crisped, transfer fillets to large plate and set aside.
  4. Pour off any fat that has accumulated at bottom of pan above 1 tablespoon. Add onions, and saute until softened, 2 minutes. Add stock, bay, oregano, raisins, tomatoes, and tomato puree, and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, until tomatoes have softened and flavors begin to come together.
  5. Add pickled jalapenos, olive brine, capers, reserved lemon rind, and half the olives. Cover and continue to simmer 5 minutes more.
  6. Carefully add fillets back into pan in single layer, skin side up. Cook, uncovered, about 10 minutes, until fish is cooked all the way through but still tender and flaky. Add in reserved olives about 2 minutes before finishing; they should be warm, but retain that fresh flavor.
  7. To serve, two options: Either bring the braising pan to the table and present the dish family-style, or spoon a scoop of sauce onto each plate and top with a skin side up fillet. Either way, sprinkle the chopped parsley or cilantro overtop and serve immediately.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Suzanne McLees
    Suzanne McLees
  • Pendolino
  • mark anthony kraft
    mark anthony kraft
I'm a healthcare consultant by day, food blogger by night, and I make a mean veggie chili. I'm eat a mostly-vegetarian diet, but have a soft spot for meat, especially braised short ribs. And this profile wouldn't be complete without an admission that I absolutely am addicted to cookies and chocolate. Finally, I love the idea of food52 and can't wait to share and read my and others' favorite recipes!

3 Reviews

Suzanne M. October 8, 2021
After discovering Snapper Veracruzano in a wonderful restaurant in Austin, TX, I've been haunted by the memory of that dish, the amazingly complex flavors. This is the best recipe that I've found to date. One detail to note is that the oregano must be Mexican - not Mediterranean, as there is a big difference in the taste. And a personal preference is to use green olives that are not the commercially available ones stuffed with pimentos in jars. When this dish was created, I'd bet green olives w/ pimentos were not available. Happily delis and independent markets, coops stock fat, juicy, briny green olives of all sorts that huge flavor to this dish. As noted in the review below by Mark A., I too was confused about when to add the cinnamon, and also (based on its order of listing among ingredients) elected to toss it into with the tomatoes. Rivka, is this correct? To make this dish sing, please be sure to use fresh spices, not ground cloves and cinnamon that have been sitting in your pantry for months. Thank you Rivka for this extraordinary recipe!
Pendolino October 2, 2020
This dish was stupendous. I went through with it because the first line was, "This might be my favourite recipe on Earth". Rich, exciting layers of flavour spring forth after some chopping and assembly of mise-en-place, I shall visit this preparation time and again. Thank you.
mark A. March 16, 2016
I did not see where to add the cinnamon but figured to put it in with the tomato puree....