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Chile-Infused Red Snapper, Veracruz-Style

Monday, 26 May 2008


This is one of the most delicious Mexican coastal fish recipes. It is served in Veracruz, the area of Mexico most influenced by Spanish cooking, but is popular all over the country. Often the snapper is dusted with flour and pan fried, then covered with a sauce, but we prefer ours beach-style. We grill it over wood or natural charcoal (gas is acceptable, too) and then serve it with the sauce on the side. Charring the tomatoes on the grill adds a smoky dimension to the sauce. This elegant and colorful fish is served with white rice and additional pickled jalapeños.


At a glance
Cooking Method
Heat Level
De Arbol

The Snapper

  • 1 3 to 4-pound whole dressed red snapper

  • 1 lime, cut in half

  • 1/4 cup ground chile de arbol, or substitute New Mexican ground red chile

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Olive oil

  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Veracruz Sauce

  • 6 small tomatoes

  • 1 small onion

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 4 canned picked jalapeño chiles (jalapeños en escabeche), seeds removed, cut in thin strips

  • 1 tablespoon juice from the pickled jalapeños

  • ½ cup sliced pimiento-stuffed olives

  • 1 tablespoon capers

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • Salt and pepper to taste


With a knife, lightly score the fish on both sides. Sprinkle lime juice over the whole fish, inside and out. In a small bowl, combine the chile and salt and mix well. Sprinkle the fish with the mixture inside and out.

To make the sauce, roast the tomatoes and onions on the grill until charred evenly. Remove and chop. In a small pan, saute the garlic in oil until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened. Season with salt and pepper, and remove the bay leaves.

Place the fish on the grill indirectly over a low fire, baste with olive oil, and cook about 1 hour per side, turning twice and basting with the oil. The fish should flake easily, and the internal temperature of the fish at its thickest part should be 385°F for medium.

Place the fish on a serving platter and pour the most of the sauce over it. At the table, carve the fish and serve it with some sauce spooned over each portion. Garnish with the parsley. Serve with heated corn tortillas, and the additional sauce on the table.



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