This is my take on Red Snapper baked Veracruz Style. Veracruz is in Mexico, and it is one of their classic celebrated dishes. It comes in many forms and has a lot of spin offs. This is one of them and it is epically delicious + quick to prepare!
How this recipe came about – I went to this great little fish market near my sister’s house on Sherbrooke, in Westmount. Every time I go there, I get inspired. They have delicious salmon gravlax, beautiful seafood and amazing prepared dishes. So I picked up some Red Snapper. I had never made it before but I figured it would be similar to other white fish I’ve made. I was just going to season it and bake it to make my baked fish tacos but instead I turned to my favourite chef, Chef John from Foodwishes.com . He also has a YouTube channel and not only has he covered hundreds of recipes, he is an excellent cooking teacher! Anyway, I just searched “food wishes red snapper” on YouTube and fell upon a recipe that totally inspired me! I didn’t have all of the ingredients called for but I improvised and the result was so delicious, I was floored, I was in heaven, I was craving it for the following 3 days! On my Instagram page vanilla_bean_montreal , I had featured it in my Insta-story. I was tasting it on camera for the first time and you can tell I was blown away, almost speechless! So, I stuck to my version of the recipe and here it is!
Butteriness: When I tasted this dish, the first thing that came out of my mouth was , “I don’t know why, but this tastes like it has garlic butter in it but there isn’t any butter in this recipe!” The cooking juices from this type of fish with the onion, garlic, olive oil and salt must create a buttery flavour which turns this into a comfort food even though it is totally carb-free.
Pickled things – Capers and brine and the pickled jalapeno add a vinegary acidity with cuts through the cooked tomato and onion, adding contrast.
Lime – The refresher. With mild fish, heat and cooked veg, lime provides a burst of brightness on the tongue different and more lively than the pickled additions. See my love letter to Lime below!
I hope enjoy it as much as I did!!
Serves 2 but you can easily double and triple this recipe!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small red onion, diced roughly (or 1/2 of a medium red onion)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (2 if large)
- 1 tsp capers
- 1 tsp caper juice (aprox)
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- a couple of pickled jalapeño rounds (maybe 4-5), seeds removed (sold in a jar or can – easy to find and they are less spicy than fresh. (Alternately, you can use fresh seeded jalapeño. Just sautee them at the same time as the tomatoes. This will be spicier though)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 (7 ounce) skinless red snapper fillets, cut in half diagonally
- salt and pepper to taste
- Smoked paprika (adds a mild smokiness )
- 2 limes, cut into wedges for squeezing 😉 See note below!
Directions (videos below)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Cut snapper fillets in half diagonally. Season them with a little salt and smoked paprika. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion; cook and stir until they begin to turn translucent, 5-6 minutes.
Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. It’s ok if it gets just a bit of colour.
Stir in tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes begin to collapse, about 3 minutes. Throw in pickled jalapeno, capers and caper brine. Stir around to cook for a few minutes. Remove from heat. (If using fresh jalapeno, add at the same time as tomatoes)
Drizzle about teaspoon olive oil into a small baking dish and spread all around the bottom of the dish. Add 1/3 of the vegetable mixture and top it with both of the thinner, tail end halves of the fillets. (Place side by side)
Top with another 1/3 of the vegetable mixture and juice from 1 lime wedge.
Stack the other thicker halves over the bottom fillets (like a lasagna). Then top with the rest of the vegetable mixture, and lime juice from another lime wedge.
Bake uncovered until fish is flaky and no longer translucent, 15 to 20 minutes.
When cooked and bubbling deliciously, add a little drizzle of olive oil and serve each stack with the remaining wedges of lime.
My love letter to lime: I find that adding citrus can freshen and brighten a dish and awaken the taste buds. When you’re preparing dishes with avocado or a curry or mild fish with a cooked tomato/onion mixture like this one, it can feel a little heavy on the tongue. So, this dish really benefits from the sharp taste of lime which heightens the senses, lightens and allows you to appreciate the different flavours as well as offering needed contrast.
Citrus fruits, especially when freshly squeezed, can of course be felt on the tongue but we also feel a slight prickle in our nose when we breathe it in and then the taste lingers on our lips, and the scent on our hands, it’s a powerful sensory experience.
Now that’s the way to elevate a dish so don’t skip the lime 😉
This is how I layered the fish. A fillet has a thinner tail end and a thicker top end. I cut the fillet crosswise on a diagonal. The thinner tail pieces go on the bottom, and the thicker on top. This is how Chef John from food wishes does it 🙂
This is how it is meant to look right before going into the oven!
My first taste!
It tasted buttery, there was heat, there was the lime! It was heavenly!
Thank you for reading and watching and I hope you try making this dish. It doesn’t get much easier or delicious than this!