This simple recipe for Fish Veracruz takes a few shortcuts to get dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes.
The rich sauce, made with tomatoes, olives, and capers, infuses fish fillets to create a simple, yet extraordinarily flavorful, fish dinner.
What is Fish Veracruz?
Veracruz is a mild tomato sauce flavored with briny olives and capers that originated in Mexico.
This sauce is the perfect accompaniment to mild white fish, as the acidic, briny flavor of the sauce infuses the fish with flavor while it cooks.
And did I mention that Fish Veracruz is made in one pan, and is ready in less than 15 minutes? It is an incredibly flavorful, fast way to prepare fish--without any overpowering fishy taste.
Key Ingredients Needed
- White Fish Fillets: Any mild white fish fillet works for Fish Veracruz. Tilapia, cod, and Halibut are all great options.
- Salsa: Instead of simmering fresh tomatoes with onions and garlic until the tomatoes break down, I opt to use fresh salsa, which speeds up this recipe tremendously. The salsa is made with fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and garlic--all which are ingredients in the traditional Veracruz recipes. Feel free to used jarred salsa in place of fresh salsa.
- Spanish Olives: Spanish olives are key in classic Veracruz sauce. They provide this fish skillet with a perfect briny bite. If you don't like them, just eat around them but they will still flavor the sauce.
- Capers: Capers also add a briny, salty burst of flavor to the Veracruz sauce.
- Fresh Limes: Use both the zest and juice of the lime, for acidity, balance, and flavor.
- Cilantro: Finishes the dish with freshness. If you don't like cilantro, use parsley or forgo entirely.
How to Make Skillet Fish Veracruz
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Season fish fillets with salt on each side.
- Add the fish to heated skillet and saute until the fish fillets release from the pan easily, this should take about 3 minutes.
- Gently flip the fish over and add in the salsa, olives, capers, and zest from the lime to the skillet. Simmer for about 6 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. You will know the fish is done when it flakes easily and is white through the center.
- Finish the dish with the juice of the fresh lime and cilantro and serve immediately.
Fish Veracruz can stand alone as a delicious hearty entree, especially when served with a side salad. However, I love to serve the fish with the rich Veracruz sauce over a bed of Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice, Instant Pot Brown Rice.
Fresh salsa is best for a more authentic taste, but a good quality jarred tomato salsa will work--don't use salsa with added fruit or a green salsa for this recipe. I recommend using a medium heat level for a bit of a kick, but mild salsa works as well.
Because the fish is pan-seared, it needs to be defrosted before cooking. To defrost frozen fish, leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
If you forgot to get thaw out your fish fillets, you can quickly defrost thinner fillets using cold water. Submerge the sealed package containing fish fillets in a large bowl of cold water. Leave the fish in the water, sitting out at room temperature, for 20 minutes. If your fillets are not defrosted after 20 minutes, replace the water with fresh cold water and allow for another 15 minutes for the fish to fully defrost. This method does not work safely for thick fillets of fish.
Fish is always best served immediately after preparation. However, if you happen to have any leftovers, you can store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Gently reheat in a dry skillet over medium-low heat.
More Seafood Favorites
- Easy Fish Tacos
- Chili Lime Pan-Seared Tilapia
- Easy Baked Salmon
- Blackened Mahi Mahi
- Homemade Fish Sticks
If you enjoyed this recipe for Fish Veracruz, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 4 (6 ounces each) mild white fish fillets such as tilapia, cod, or halibut
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup salsa
- ¼ cup sliced spanish olives
- 2 teaspoons capers
- 1 fresh lime juice and zest
- ½ cup cilantro chopped
- In a non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
- Season the fish fillets with the salt and place them into the hot skillet. Saute for 3 minutes and then gently flip. If the fish is not flipping over, allow 1 more minute to cook before flipping.
- Add in the salsa, green olives, capers, and zest of the lime. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 6-7 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
- Squeeze fresh lime juice over the skillet and sprinkle with cilantro. Taste to see if additional salt is needed, and adjust accordingly. Serve immediately.
- Fresh salsa is best for a more authentic taste, but a good quality jarred salsa will work.
- I used a traditional medium heat salsa. You can use any heat level you would like but I would stick to a traditional flavor.
- Be sure to not overlook the fresh lime juice, it helps to add flavor and acid to the sauce, which is needed to help the flavor of the fish.
- Because the fish is pan-seared, it needs to be defrosted before cooking. To defrost frozen fish, leave in refrigerator overnight. If you forgot to get it out of the freezer the night before, submerge a sealed package containing fish fillet in a large bowl of cold water for 20-30 minutes. If it is still not defrosted by then, dump water for fresh cold water and give another 15 minutes.
- Leftover Fish Veracruz can be store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.