Veracruz, on Mexico's East Coast, is as rich in seafood as the city of Taxco, closer to the West Coast, is in silver. Jewels from the Gulf of Mexico include red snapper, shrimp, crab and crayfish the size of Maine lobsters.
This would be bounty enough, but the Gulf region is knownfor its agricultural treasures as well, according to PatriciaQuintana, an authority on Mexican cooking. As you move downthe rugged Veracruz uplands toward the coast, pear and appleorchards give way to coffee plantations, followed by vanilla bean and cocoa farms, and closer to shore, towering coconut palms.
Then you hit the shore and are overwhelmed by a wave of "briny odors of a bewildering but enticing variety of mollusks, fish and crustaceans," writes Quintana in The Taste of Mexico (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1993; $24.95 softcover).
Is it any wonder that Huachinango A La Veracruzana (Red Snapper Veracruz Style) is the region's best-known dish and one of the most famous in Mexico?
Every cook has her own secret recipe, however the dishusually includes olives and capers, which indicate a Spanishinfluence.
As exotic as Fish Veracruz Style sounds, you don't need to hop on a plane to enjoy it. The ingredients are as near as your supermarket and the warm Gulf breezes are a matter of your imagination.
Bev Bennett is the author of four cookbooks, including the award-winning
"Dinner for Two," Barron's.
||Fish Veracruz Style
1 large shallot, peeled and minced
Saute shallot, green pepper and chile in olive oil in medium pan 5 minutes
or until peppers are tender. Add tomatoes,
capers, olives and salt and pepper to taste and cook until pulpy, about 5 minutes.
Place fish in oiled baking dish. Spoon on tomato sauce. Bake at 400
degrees until fish is white and firm throughout, about 30
minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with rice. Makes 2 servings.
Per serving: 255 calories; 10.3 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat; 36 percent calories from fat); 11.9 g carbohydrates, 53 mg cholesterol; 804 mg sodium.
Combine rice, broth and rind in medium pan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until rice is tender, about3/4 cup long-grain rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno chile
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
Per serving: 280 calories; 2.1 g fat (0.6 g saturated fat; 7 percent calories from fat); 57.8 g carbohydrates, 14 mg cholesterol; 810 mg sodium.
Copyright 1997, The Detroit News