Pescado a la Veracruzana checks out all the boxes of a satisfying dish. It features fish fillets cooked in a tomato-based sauce that’s flavored with olives, capers, and chilies. It is hearty, tasty, and full of Mexican flair!

Pescado a la Veracruzana is a traditional Mexican dish from the state of Veracruz. It consists of fish cooked in a flavorful sauce made of tomatoes, onion, peppers, olives, and capers.

The sauce is typically seasoned with garlic, oregano, and bay leaves. It’s very similar to the base of my Bacalao a la Vizcaína recipe and is frequently referred to as Salsa Veracruzana.

Pescado a la Veracruzana is often served during Lent (Cuaresma) along with other homemade Mexican Lent recipes that are popular when meat is traditionally avoided and is a great way to enjoy a delicious and healthy seafood meal.

Pescado a la Veracruzana served in plates with rice and avocado slices. An arrangement with other sides and drinks on a marble surface.

Ingredients

  • Fish fillets (filetes de pescado): I’m using cod, but feel free to use other white fish like tilapia, red snapper (huachinango), or halibut.
  • Tomatoes: I like adding diced tomatoes and tomato sauce to get the perfect flavor and consistency.
  • Onion: Use any type of onion you have on hand, sliced or diced.
  • Bell peppers: Green and yellow bell peppers provide subtle sweetness with fruity notes.
  • Green olives: Make sure to use pitted olives for this dish. You can add them whole or sliced.
  • Capers: An essential ingredient of the sauce, these tiny flower buds bring a salty and briny tang to the sauce.
  • Chilies: The most traditional is a type of hot pepper called chile güero, but if you can’t find it you can substitute it with regular or pickled jalapeños for some extra zing.
  • Oil: This is one of the few recipes in Mexico that calls for olive oil since Veracruz cuisine has a notorious Spanish influence.
  • Herbs and spices: Parsley, garlic, oregano, and bay leaves work best for this Veracruz-style fish.
  • Seasonings: Season to taste with salt and pepper.

How To Make Pescado A La Veracruzana

To Make pescado a la Veracruzana you’ll start by heating about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.

Add first the bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes, then add onions and cook stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly soft.

Sautéing bell peppers and onions in a pan.

Add diced tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes over medium-low heat.

Top Tip: You can also use a potato masher and lightly mash the tomatoes to make the sauce thicker.

Sautéing bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and spices in a pan.

Stir in in the tomato sauce, then pour 1 1⁄2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.

Added tomato sauce and water to the pan with veggies.

Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through and the sauce has thickened a bit.

Cooked veracruzana sauce in a pan.

Mix in the olives, capers, and chili peppers.

Keep cooking for 1 minute to make the flavors blend together.

Added chilies, olives, and capers to the Veracruzana sauce.

Carefully add the fish fillets to the pan, and spoon the flavorful sauce over.

Cook for 4-5 minutes or until fish is nicely cooked through. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and turn off the heat.

Serve your pescado a la Veracruzana with a squeeze of lime, some warm tortillas, and a side of rice. Read below for more suggestions to serve!

Expert Notes

  • Drain the capers and olives well before adding them to the sauce to prevent the dish from becoming too salty. If capers are packed in salt, give them a quick rinse before adding them to the sauce.
  • If you’d like a richer sauce, add some vegetable stock.
  • Don’t overcook the fish. It should be cooked just until it is opaque and flaky.

How To Serve

The flavors of pescado a la Veracruzana really come alive when served with arroz blanco or arroz a la mantequilla.

Match the colors of the dish by serving it with Mexican red rice.

The cheesy, creamy papas gratinadas are the perfect accompaniment to balance out the bold flavors of the dish.

Warm some tortillas to scoop up all that delicious sauce and bits of fish.

Close-up of Pescado a la Veracruzana.

How To Store & Reheat

Whether you’re making this dish ahead of time or just have leftovers, Veracruz-style fish can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.

To reheat, place the fillets covered with sauce in a pan over medium or in the microwave until heated through. If necessary, add a splash of fish stock or water to loosen up the sauce.

FAQ

What is pescado?

“Pescado” is the Spanish word for “fish”. It refers to any type of fish, whether it’s freshwater or saltwater, and can be used to describe both the whole fish and filleted pieces of fish. In Mexican cuisine, “pescado” is often used in popular dishes such as this Veracruz-style fish recipe.

What is Veracruz-style food?

Veracruz-style food is any type of dish that is cooked in tomatoes, olives, and capers to create a unique, savory flavor profile. This style of cooking is popular throughout all of Mexico but has its roots in the coastal state of Veracruz.

What is Veracruz sauce made of?

Veracruz sauce, or salsa Veracruzana in Spanish, is a traditional Mexican sauce that originated in the coastal state of Veracruz. It usually includes ingredients like tomatoes, onions, chiles güeros, olives, capers, fresh herbs, and spices.

Some variations of the sauce may also include other ingredients like bell peppers, raisins, almonds, or even potatoes to make a more substantial dish.

More Pescado Recipes

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Video

Pescado a la Veracruzana recipe.

Pescado A La Veracruzana

4 servings
This Pescado a la Veracruzana features fish fillets cooked in a tomato sauce with onions, bell peppers, olives, and capers. So flavorful and hearty!
prep 10 minutes
cook 25 minutes
total 35 minutes

Equipment

  • 1 large frying pan

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb cod fillets (red snapper, cod, tilapia, etc.)
  • 1 small onion (sliced)
  • 3 small tomatoes (diced, seeds removed)
  • 1 ½ cups tomato sauce
  • ½ small green bell pepper (cut into strips)
  • ½ small yellow bell pepper (cut into strips)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
  • cup green olives (pitted & sliced)
  • 2 Tablespoons capers (rinsed)
  • 3-4 pickled chiles güeros (or pickled jalapeños)
  • 3 Tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon parsley (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  • Add first the bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes, then add onions and cook stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly soft.
  • Add tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes over medium-low heat.
  • Stir in in the tomato sauce, then pour 1 ½ cups of water. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through and the sauce has been thickened a bit.
  • Mix in the olives, capers, and chili peppers. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Carefully add the fish fillets to the pan, and spoon the flavorful sauce over.
  • Cook for 4-5 minutes or until fish is nicely cooked through.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste, turn off the heat, and serve.

Notes

  • Drain and rinse the capers and olives well before adding them to the sauce to prevent the dish from becoming too salty.
  • If you’d like a richer sauce, add some vegetable or fish stock.
  • Don’t overcook the fish. It should be cooked just until it is opaque and flaky.
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 1079mg | Potassium: 986mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1209IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 2mg
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Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    When I was living in Mexico this was one of my favorites. I used to make it with chiles guero but not pickled, I’d just fry them lightly and then serve them on the side.