Veracruz-Style Grilled Fish (Pescado Veracruzano)

Nothing says summertime more than whole fish on the grill, accompanied by some fresh veggies, salsas, and various ecoutrements.  If you can manage to get a pretty backdrop of the ocean, some cold adult beverages and a beautiful sunset, I’d say you’ve got life figured out my friend.  The tomato-based sauce for this fish is herbaceous from the oregano, parsley and cilantro, briny from the olives and spicy from the jalapeños rendering it the perfect sauce for fish, chicken or grilled veggies.  I usually serve this with some Spanish rice, a big green salad and of course, Margaritas, vino and cerveza.

Serves 4


For the Fish Marinade:

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 sprig fresh oregano, leaves only minced

2 sprig parsley, leaves only minced

Juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

2 whole snapper (1 ½ – 2 lbs.), scaled and gutted

For the Veracruz Sauce:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 large tomatoes, chopped

Juice of ½  lime

1 sprig oregano, leaves chopped

1 sprig parsley, leaves chopped

1 bay leaf

¼ cup green olives, such as manzanillas, pitted and chopped

1 tbsp capers

Black pepper, to taste

¼ bunch cilantro, chopped


For the Garnish:

1 lime, cut into wedges

Corn tortillas


Heat up a grill to medium heat.

Score the fish 2-3 times on each side, down to the bone.  Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade and cover the entire fish, inside and out with it.  Let sit for a minimum of 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes in the refrigerator. While the fish is marinating, start the sauce.

In a saucepan over medium high heat, add the olive oil, onion and jalapeno and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, tomatoes, lime juice, oregano, parsley, bay leaf, olives and capers.  Season the sauce with black pepper.  Cook until the tomatoes just start to break down, about 10 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, grill the fish on a well-oiled grill for about 7-8 minutes per side.  Wrap the tortillas in foil and place on the grill for the last few minutes to heat.

When the sauce is done, remove form the heat, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary and add the cilantro.

Serve the fish whole on a platter, topped with the sauce and garnished with lime wedges and warm corn tortillas.