Red Snapper Veracruz (Huachinango a la Veracruzana)

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Red Snapper Veracruz is one of the best known seafood dishes from Mexico, but I had never heard about it until I saw it on REMCooks.com. It reminds me of a Mediterranean dish, and clearly shows the Spanish influences in Mexican cooking. After reading Richard’s recipe I googled and found some more recipes. Based on this research I came up with my own version. It won’t surprise you that I used sous-vide to cook the fish. For a good Red Snapper Veracruz you want crispy skin, moist tender fish, and a flavorful sauce that includes the taste of the fish. If you cook the fish in the sauce (which is probably the most common approach) you won’t get the crispy skin and it is easy to overcook the fish. But the fish would add some flavor the sauce. I came up with a solution that gives you the best of both worlds: make a stock out of the head and bones of the snapper, reduce the stock, and add it to the sauce. This gives the sauce a wonderful deep flavor. I cooked the fish fillets sous-vide first and then crisped up the skin in a very hot frying pan. The result was amazingly delicious, and I will definitely make this again.

Something else I’ll make again is arroz blanco. When I looked at recipes for Red Snapper Veracruz, I noticed that it was often served with arroz blanco. That means simply “white rice”, but when I looked into it I found out that arroz blanco is actually a bit more elaborate than simply white rice and that the preparation actually has some elements of risotto. Since I was making fish stock anyway, I used that for the arroz blanco. The result is flavorful rice in which you notice the individual grains with a nice smoothness to  them. Also something I’ll definitely make again!

This is a recipe with a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps, and it took me about 90 minutes to prepare it from start to finish. So it is a bit of work, but not very difficult and definitely worth the trouble. This was absolutely delicious. Thanks for the inspiration, Richard!

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

1 red snapper of about 650 grams (1.5 lbs), filleted with the skin on, head and bones reserved

juice of 1/2 lime

salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly grated nutmeg

2 Tbsp vegetable oil with a high smoke point (such as coconut oil)

flour for dusting

1/4 lime for garnish, cut into 2 pieces

2 sprigs parsley for garnish

For the sauce

650 grams (1.5 lbs) plum tomatoes

1 bell pepper

3/4 onion

1 clove garlic

1-5 fresh jalapeños, depending on how hot you’d like it

1 jalapeño en escabeche, plus 1 Tbsp of the pickling liquid

1/4 cup (50 grams) olives

1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley

1/2 Tbsp minced fresh oregano

1 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained

1 bay leaf

salt

reduced fish stock, from below

2 Tbsp olive oil

For the arroz blanco

130 grams (2/3 cup) rice

juice of 1/4 lime

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro

250 ml fish stock, from below

2 Tbsp olive oil

For the fish stock

head and bones of the snapper

1 carrot

1 onion

1 stick celery

Preparation

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Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF (fan forced).

Rinse the fish fillets under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season the flesh side with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a dash of freshly grated nutmeg.

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Squeeze some lime juice onto the fish fillets and rub to distribute the salt, pepper, nutmeg and juice evenly.

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Vacuum seal the fish and refrigerate to marinate.

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Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange them with the cut side down in an oven proof dish. Roast the tomatoes for about 30 minutes at 190ºC/375ºF (fan forced).

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Meanwhile, prepare the fish stock.

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While the stock is simmering and the tomatoes are roasting, prepare the other ingredients for the sauce:

  • Chop the jalapeño en escabeche;
  • Clean the bell pepper and cut into strips;
  • Chop the onion;
  • Stem and slice the jalapeños;
  • Mince the capers;
  • Chop the olives;
  • Mince the garlic;
  • Mince the parsley;
  • Mince the oregano.

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Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat for a minute.

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Add the bell pepper and jalapeños and sauté for a couple of minutes.

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Add the garlic, season with salt, and sauté for another minute.

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The tomatoes should be roasted by now.

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Puree the tomatoes in a food processor.

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Add the pureed tomatoes to the sauce.

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Add the bay leaf, olives, capers, parsley, oregano, and jalapeño en escabeche.

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Also add a tablespoon of the jalapeño en escabeche pickling liquid. Stir to mix. Simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes.

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The fish stock should be done by now. Filter it using a fine sieve, put it in a wide low pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a strong simmer and reduce the fish stock, stirring now and then.

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To make the arroz blanco, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the onion and garlic.

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Add the rice as well.

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Sauté the rice with the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes. Do not allow the rice, onion, or garlic to turn brown.

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Add 250 ml (1 cup) of hot fish stock. Continue to reduce the remaining fish stock.

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Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

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Add juice of 1/4 lime. Cover and lower the heat to a mere simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

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Preheat the sous-vide to 50ºC/122ºF. Wait until the sauce is done.

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Cook the snapper sous-vide for 10-15 minutes at 50ºC/122ºF.

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Keep reducing the fish stock until it is no longer watery, which you can check with a wooden spatula by making a ‘hole’ in the stock.

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Remove the bay leaf from the sauce.

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Add the reduced fish stock to the sauce. Stir to incorporate. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.

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Meanwhile, the arroz blanco should be ready.

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Preheat a non-stick frying pan and add 2 tablespoons of oil with a high smoke point such as coconut oil.

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After 10-15 minutes in the sous-vide, take the snapper fillets out of the sous-vide pouch and pat the skin side dry with a paper towel.

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Dust the skin side with flour, shaking off excess flour.

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Put the snapper fillets in the hot oil, skin side down, to crisp up the skin for 1-2 minutes.

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Arrange the rice and the sauce on preheated plates while the fish is crisping up.  Add the snapper with the skin side on top. Garnish with lime and a sprig of parsley.

Wine pairing

We enjoyed this with a good glass of chardonnay, a white Burgundy to be more precise. Sauvignon blanc or riesling would also be excellent choices.

Flashback


The type of kale available in the US and Australia (and probably elsewhere is well) is more suitable for salads than the kale (boerenkool) available here. So I take advantage when I’m in the US or Australia to prepare a kale salad with blue cheese, apple, nuts, and raisins (or simply trail mix).

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9 thoughts on “Red Snapper Veracruz (Huachinango a la Veracruzana)

  1. Great dish, Stefan. I am always amazed to see your spin on these traditional recipes. I like the way you get the fish flavor in the sauce and have the nice crispy skin on the perfectly cooked fish. I bet this was incredibly flavorful with great texture. Love the technique on the arroz blanco, too. Very nicely done in every respect. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How absolutely appropriate since all our blogfriends at the moment are celebrating ‘The Day od the Dead’ in Mexico . . . and, although’ I am speaking from the sidelines Down Under as an ‘ex-European kid’ it make smile all the more desirous of attempting to copy this recipe 🙂 Thanks!!

    Like

  3. Pingback: Jalapeños en Escabeche (Pickled Jalapeños) | Stefan's Gourmet Blog

  4. Pingback: Sugo di Carne alla Genovese: Il Tocco (Genoese Braised Veal and Meat Sauce) | Stefan's Gourmet Blog

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