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
cloves garlic, chopped
unsprayed lemon, juiced, peel reserved
unsprayed lime, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
skin-on fillets red snapper, scaled and cleaned well
vegetable or chicken stock
onion, halved and sliced
tomato puree (fresh is best)
diced tomatoes, fresh if available
pickled jalapenos, sliced (adjust to taste)
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.
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.
When skin has crisped, transfer fillets to large plate and set aside.
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.
Add pickled jalapenos, olive brine, capers, reserved lemon rind, and half the olives. Cover and continue to simmer 5 minutes more.
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.
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.
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!