Red Snapper A La Veracruzana
Olive oil as needed for sauteing
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Spanish onions, peeled, halved, and sliced very thin
3 red bell peppers, seeded and julienned
3 poblano peppers, seeded and julienned
2 green pepper, seeded and julienned
2 Anaheim pepper, seeded and julienned
5 cups tomato puree
2 sprigs fresh thyme, and more for garnish
1 cup picholine olives, or other green Spanish olive, pitted and sliced in half
1/2 cup capers, rinsed
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
8 red snapper filets, 7 to 8 ounces each, skin on, pin bones removed
8 leeks (optional for garnish)
2 large limes
For the sauce:
Heat a saute pan or large saucepan until it’s hot. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, then more as needed during cooking.
Add the garlic; saute until it is light brown.
Quickly add the onions and peppers; saute them over medium heat until they are tender.
Add the tomato puree and thyme sprigs; simmer 15 minutes.
Add the olives; continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.
Add the capers, salt and pepper; continue to simmer another 10 minutes, 40-45 minutes in all. Remove the thyme sprigs and keep the sauce warm.
For the snapper:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Salt and pepper the fish on both sides.
In a steel-handled 12-inch saute pan, pour in enough olive oil to come up sides of pan 1/4 inch. Heat until the oil begins to smoke. Gently place two of the snapper filets in the pan, skin side down. When the skin begins to brown (about 1 minute) remove the filets and set them aside while you saute the next batch.
Add more oil as needed to the pan, and saute the rest of the filets in batches. When you’re finished, place the filets on a greased sheet pan, skin side down. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the fish feels firm. Do not turn the filets over. This will ensure crisp skin and tender and moist flesh.
Spoon the sauce onto warmed plates. Place the fish on top, skin side up. If desired, garnish with fried leeks or quick-fried cilantro sprigs. Squeeze the fresh lime juice over the fish just before serving.
Makes 8 servings.
From executive chef Joseph A. Cacace, Chango restaurant, New York City.