Do you like colorful dishes and intense flavors? Then, let’s prepare a Mexican dinner at home! Huachinango a la veracruzana will delight you.
The famous huachinango a la veracruzana, originates from the beautiful state of Veracruz as its name suggests. Huachinango is the Mexican word for red snapper.
The region of Veracruz, which stretches along the Gulf of Mexico, was the region of African slaves and Conquistadors of the Caribbean and Spain.
What is huachinango a la veracruzana?
Huachinango a la veracruzana is the symbol of the region. Based on red snapper, tomatoes, capers, olives and peppers, it combines the ingredients and cooking methods of Spanish cuisine and pre-colonial Mexico. It is usually served with small roasted potatoes and white rice.
Much of today’s Mexican cuisine is therefore based on these pre-Hispanic traditions, including Aztec and Maya, combined with the culinary style introduced by Spanish settlers. But Caribbean cuisine has also influenced some dishes, including regional dishes from Veracruz and Yucatan.
The ingredients of Mexican cuisine vary from region to region due to differences in climate, geography, ethnicity and, most importantly, according to Hispanic influence.
Salsas (sauces) are one of the most important elements of Mexican cuisine. There are many types of salsas, whose recipes are handed down from generation to generation. The salsas always accompany the main course and are an integral part of every meal, giving them unique colors and flavors.
Some sauces can be spicy, others not. Some are very unctuous, others are chunky.
Most of them are made from raw ingredients, traditionally pounded in a stone mortar called molcajete, which can be used to prepare guacamole, for example. This kitchen tool was used thousands of years ago by the people who inhabited this land, such as the Mayas and the Aztecs. The pounded ingredients release flavors, essential to the final taste and consistency.
The culinary art of Veracruz has a significant importance in Mexican cuisine, to the point that it has given life to a true style: “the Veracruz style”.
From this beautiful city overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, famous for its carnival that can be compared to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, this very typical recipe of huachinango is precisely prepared with a sauce called salsa a la veracruzana.
What are the different kinds of Mexican salsas?
Let’s discover some of the most popular Mexican salsas that make the richness of this cuisine:
– Pico de gallo: its main colors are reminiscent of those of the national flag: green and red peppers, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, onion, diced tomato. It is also called Mexican salsa.
– Guacamole: This is probably the most famous Mexican sauce (or dip) in the world. An ideal accompaniment to tacos and fajitas, it is mainly composed of avocado, onion, tomato, cilantro and lime juice.
– Salsa verde (green sauce): Tomatillos (Mexican green tomatoes) and green peppers give the typical color of this green sauce. The preparation can have different variations. It is often served with enchiladas.
– Salsa negra (black sauce): Salsa negra takes its name from the fact that the peppers and other ingredients of the recipe are grilled until brownish. Some use dried peppers.
– Adobo: The word adobo comes from the Spanish adobar which means “to marinate”. It consists of two types of peppers, ancho and guajillo, both dried, rehydrated, then mixed with spices (Mexican oregano, black pepper, garlic, a little cumin or cinnamon) and apple vinegar.
– Red chile: If you like to eat spicy, you should go for red chile sauce. In this preparation, the tomato is flavored with red pepper, lime and cumin. Some add black beans to the recipe and simmer all together for the flavors to blend perfectly.
– Salsa taquera: Just as hot as the previous one, it consists of chile de árbol, dried peppers, tomatillos and grilled garlic.
– Salsa ranchera: another excellent preparation to accompany tacos, but also huevos rancheros. The ingredients are the same as taquera sauce, but this time with fresh serrano pepper, less pungent than the previous ones.
– Salsa enchilada: The ideal salsa for enchiladas, based on tomatoes.
– Salsa mole: prepared with chili and chocolate.
– Salsa quemada: the name comes from the main ingredient of this Mexican specialty, roasted tomatoes. They give this sauce a unique delicately burned flavor, which goes well with tortillas, enchiladas or tacos. It includes chili pepper, garlic, onion, cilantro and lime juice are added.
– Salsa cascabel: Tomatillos and Cascabel chili, which is a round-shaped pepper that is slightly spicy but very aromatic.
– Salsa habanero: Composed of habanero pepper and ripe tomatoes.
– Salsa maiz: Consisting of cooked corn kernels mixed with cilantro leaves, red pepper, onion, tomato and lime juice.
– Salsa cacahuate: based on peanuts flavored with garlic, thyme and chili pepper.
– Salsa frutas (fruit sauce): It is often prepared with mango or pineapple but also apples or passion fruit.
– Salsa Chamoy: Mexicans love sauces! Salsa Chamoy is one of their favorite sauces. It is a thick sauce made with apricot jam, lime juice and chili pepper.
What is snapper?
Now let’s talk about the snapper, an essential ingredient of this delicious recipe.
There are more than 150 snapper species found in all the tropical waters of the world, including a dozen varieties in the Gulf of Mexico and off the US Atlantic coast.
It is undoubtedly the red snapper that is the most popular of all, and the one found most often on the stalls of fishmongers.
Red snapper is a tropical fish that is caught in warm seas off the African coast, Florida, South and Central America. It is a fish that can become very large and weigh up to 30 lb, but those that are found more easily are between 3 and 8 lb.
Snapper has a delicate taste and a firm semi fat white flesh. Its flesh has a slight almond flavor and the bright red of its skin lends itself to spectacular presentations.
Red snapper is low in calories and has a high content of protein and mineral salts. It is a very popular for healthy diets.
The mixture of olives, jalapeños, capers, raisins and other spices and herbs gives huachinango a la Veracruzana a unique Mediterranean flavor!
Do not miss out on this treasure of Mexican cuisine.
- 1 red snapper (about 3-4 lb/1,5-2kg), gutted and scaled
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 scallions , finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic , crushed
- 4 tomatoes , finely chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro , chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- ½ green bell pepper , diced
- ½ red bell pepper , diced
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 5 tablespoons pitted green olives
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 4 jalapenos , chopped
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- Marinate fish in lime juice, ground nutmeg, 1 garlic clove, salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375F/190C.
- In a large skillet or in a shallow ovenproof casserole, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent.
- Stir in remaining garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for about 8 minutes. Add bell peppers and herbs.
- Cook for an additional 4 minutes.
- Add white wine, jalapeños, raisins, olives and capers and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper (taking into account the salt from olives and capers). Mix well.
- Finally, place the fish on the sauce.
- Cover fish with a little sauce.
- Bake for 35 minutes.