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Red Snapper Vera Cruz

Ruth Lively

Servings: four.

Serve this spicy dish alongside rice that’s topped with fresh chopped herbs and butter. Grapefruit segments and avocado wedges on Bibb lettuce and a simple lime dressing make a refreshing salad. Bread or hot flour tortillas complete the meal. The fruitiness of a well-made dry gewürztraminer plays off the spiciness of this dish.


  • 4 red snapper fillets, 6 to 7 oz. each
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips
  • 24 green olives, pitted and chopped rough
  • 2 Tbs. capers
  • 2 pickled jalapeños, seeded and sliced
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. pickling juice from the jalapeños
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. chopped parsley, plus extra leaves for garnish
  • 1 cup fish stock or canned clam juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  • Prepare the fillets: Check the red snapper for bones and remove any with a pair of tweezers or needle-nose pliers. Sprinkle with lemon juice and salt, and set aside.
  • Make the sauce: In a large, heavy skillet, heat 6 Tbs. of oil. Sauté the onions until soft, 6 to 7 min., over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook 1 min. Add the tomatoes and simmer 4 to 5 min. Then add the olives, capers, jalapeños, pickling juice, herbs, spices, chopped parsley, and fish stock or clam juice. Simmer uncovered for 7 to 8 min. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside in a warm place.
  • Cook the fillets: In the same pan, heat 1/4 cup oil about 2 min., until it starts to shimmer. Sauté the snapper, skin side down, 2 min. and then turn over. Cover the fish with the tomato mixture. Bring to a simmer, cover tightly, remove from the heat, and let steam for about 3 min. With a slotted spoon, arrange the fillets on warm plates and spoon the sauce over them. Garnish with parsley.


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Reviews (2 reviews)

  • ronnialvarez | 03/30/2011

    This is an excellent dish! Just the right amount of spice and so easy. Preparing it for a supper club dinner in two weeks.

  • sukhwinder | 08/26/2009

    I made this for dinner last night and my whole family loved it.

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