Sometime well before The Gulf Cost of Mexico became a slightly more garish version of Panama City, you could grab a $150 flight with an ID and a promise that you were a US Citizen, bribe a taxi, and be on the beach somewhere in the vicinity of Campeche just before the sun started to set. I used pack a case of books, an industrial sized bottle of Hawaiian Tropic (back when we all got as brown as cocoa beans) and make my way there whenever I could.
It’s not that there weren’t tons of things to do. I’m sure that if I were in the adventurous mood, I could have kept myself busy doing all types of exciting activities. But for me – There was the beach, there was the cold water flat, there were the waves that lapped dangerously close to my lodgings at night.. and down the beach, across 200 yards of scorching sand, was a hut that served my dinner every night – grilled fresh fish veracruz and cervezas.
Those trips were some of the best times of my life. Nothing recharges the soul like a week of disconnect with the world… with fish and beer.
The food was brought to the table in the tin foil pouches it was cooked in. The piping hot tomato-y sauce cradling slabs of impossibly fresh snapper and pink shrimp, with a stack of homemade tortilla shingled across the top of the pouch. There was no silverware, no pretense, no pomp – just perfectly cooked fish and sauce.
As I remember it the hut’s version of veracruz was more onion than garlic, and less hot than most restaurants I’ve ordered stateside – so I’ve tried to recreate that flavor as best I can.
Veracruz Sauce with
Fish and Shrimp
2 – 6oz Portions of White Fish Filets – Snapper works best, but it can be equally delicious with Cod, Pollock, Haddock… basically, any firm white flaky fish
12 Small Shrimp (30/45) – Peeled and deveined
1 Large Sweet Onion – Chopped
12 Kalamata Olives – Chopped
1 Clove Garlic – Minced
2 Pickled Sweet Cherry Bomb Chilies – Seeded and Diced
1 Tablespoon Capers
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley – Chopped
1 Teaspoon Fresh Rosemary – Chopped
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme
1 Teaspoon Fresh Oregano – Chopped
1 Teaspoon Mint – Chopped
1 Bay Leaf
1 14oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice – Divided
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil – Divided
Salt and Pepper
Large Skillet with Lid
On medium high heat, saute 1/2 the oil with the garlic and onions – cook until the onions are translucent
Add the tomatoes, capers, chilies, olives, herbs, 1/2 lime juice and tomatoes
Bring to a bubble, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes
While the sauce is simmering, season the fish with salt and pepper and add the remaining oil and juice to a small dish
Add the fish and shrimp, and allow to marinate for the remaining time the sauce cooks
Raise the heat to medium low and layer the fish and shrimp over the sauce
Cover and cook for 4 minutes
Turn the proteins over and cook for another 4 minutes
Serve the dish with a healthy ladle of the sauce with a filet and 1/2 the shrimp on each plate.
Serve with steamed corn tortillas or steamed rice