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Flavorful sauce looks, tastes like a fiesta

Recipe: Pescado Veracruz packed with tomatoes and peppers

Mixture of tomatoes and peppers in pan
A colorful blend of tomatoes and peppers goes into Veracruz sauce. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Full of flavor and bright colors, Veracruz sauce tastes and looks like a late summer fiesta.

Mixing yellow, orange and red tomatoes with green peppers makes otherwise plain-looking fish fillets jump off the plate. All red tomatoes work, too; with the green peppers, the combination echoes the flag of Mexico.

Pescado Veracruz with couscous on plate
Sautéed fish fillets are paired with couscous and extra Veracruz

Inspired by the food of the Mexican coastal state of Veracruz, this dish is a variation of traditional Pescado Veracruz, which bakes the fish (often whole) in the sauce in the oven.

When it’s too hot to turn on the oven, substitute fish fillets sautéed on top of the stove, then smother them with the flavorful sauce. Use a firm, quick-cooking white fish such as cod, snapper or tilapia.

As for peppers, green bell peppers or mild Anaheim or Hatch peppers (or a combination of both) work well. Or add a chopped jalapeño to kick up the heat.

Serve with rice or couscous, topped with extra sauce.

Pescado Veracruz
(Fish with tomato-pepper sauce)

Makes 2 to 3 servings


1 pound firm white fish fillet such as cod, snapper or tilapia

¼ cup flour

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup green pepper, chopped

1/3 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 cup tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup white wine

Finished Veracruz sauce
Veracruz sauce is finished and ready to serve.


Pat dry fish fillets. Mix flour with salt and pepper to taste. Dust fillets with flour mixture.

In a large skillet, melt butter. Sauté fish fillets over medium high heat, turning once, until fish is golden and flakes apart, about 5 to 6 minutes per side or a little more depending on the thickness of the fish.

While the fish is cooking, add the chopped peppers and onions to the pan and let them sauté alongside the fish.

When the fish is ready, remove from the pan with a slotted spatula and transfer to a plate; keep warm.

Add tomatoes to the onions and peppers in the pan along with a little more butter if necessary. Over medium heat, sauté tomato mixture, stirring often, until tomatoes start to break down, about 3 minutes. Add wine, stirring to pick up any brown bits stuck to bottom of pan. Turn up heat to medium high and bring mixture to a high simmer. Stirring often, let mixture cook down until thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Spoon sauce over fish and accompanying rice or couscous. Serve immediately.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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