Veracruz Fish

Veracruz Fish is whole Spanish mackerel made easily into a gourmet meal, topped with a savory and delicious blend of veggies.
Veracruz Fish

Veracruz Fish
Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

It may well be that you have seen the beautiful, silvery whole mackerel at your fishmonger and wondered what to do with them. There may have even been a little fear at how to handle the whole fish from top to bottom with head and bones included,

It’s not a problem, trust me. The only thing you might want to do is make sure your fishmonger guts it for you as I do not give those instructions here, and won’t, because I just don’t like doing it myself. I have done it before, but if I don’t have to, I let someone else do it first.

And  if you go to buy the mackerel, look for one with nice clear eyes and no off smells. You don’t want anything to do with cloudy zombie eyes or an ammonia odor.  You can generally see the eyes in a seafood case, and in the event you are too shy to ask your fishmonger for a whiff, just leave ample time to open it after purchase before you drive home, and if it is off, take it back inside and ask for a different one, or a refund. I have not seen a market yet that would not take something back if you opened it and it smelled off.

Fresh Whole Mackerel
Fresh Whole Mackerel

Once you have the mackerel, you really should use it within one day. If something comes up after you have this planned, I suggest putting the whole thing double wrapped into the freezer. They thaw easily like any frozen seafood, and are just fine from that point.

A slight bit of prep you might want to do if your fishmonger has not is to trim the dorsal and pectoral fins. Don’t worry about the head or the skin or the  bones just yet.

I’ll show you what to do there after you bake it.

Preparing the Sauce
Preparing the Sauce

You may wonder about the flavor of mackerel what with it being a kind of oily fish. The finished dish has a very mild flavor and the fish itself is tender and flaky. Due to the oil content inside the fish (which is actually very good for your heart health), it is cooked here with acidic things like wine, lemon, and olives, which balances the flavor. Fish such as mackerel are not generally made with cream sauces because the oil is just too much. Topped with the other vegetables, it becomes a delicious melange that when served with a little white rice and a tossed salad, make a very good and healthy meal.

Preparing the Fish to Bake
Preparing the Fish to Bake

I hope you enjoy and feel comfortable enough with the whole mackerel to try it for yourself. It’s quite easy and very good!

Veracruz Fish

Veracruz Fish

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Veracruz Fish

      • 1 1/2 pounds whole Spanish mackerel, gutted and cleaned
      • 2 tablespoons olive oil
      • 1 red onion, sliced
      • 1  green pepper, seeded and sliced
      • 5 whole cloves garlic, sliced
      • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
      • juice of one lemon
      • 1/2 cup dry white wine
      • 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
      • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
      • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
      • pinch red pepper flakes
      • 1 fresh bay leaf
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
      • 1 cup sliced pitted green olives
      • 1 additional tablespoon olive oil
      • lemon slices or wedges


      1. Place (rinsed) fish on a foil lined baking sheet.
      2. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
      3. Heat olive oil in a skillet and saute the onion, peppers and garlic until onions are lightly browned.
      4. Stir in the tomatoes with juice, lemon juice, wine, mustard, vinegar, oregano, red pepper flakes, bay leaf,  salt, black pepper and green olives and cook for a few minutes until thick and saucy.
      5. Pour mixture over fish.
      6. Bake fish uncovered for 25-35 minutes or until the eye is opaque and the fish flakes easily with a fork.
      7. Remove pan from oven and slide the tomato mix off with a spatula.
      8. Cut into the fish just below the head with a boning knife until you hit the bone, the turn the knife sideways and cut all the way down the fish.
      9. Using two spatulas, lift the fillet you just made off to the side.
      10. Use the boning knife to slide just underneath the bone. Easily remove the entire bone with head attached and discard or save for fish stock.
      11. Using the spatulas, replace the fillet on top of the bottom half,  transfer with two spatulas to a serving platter and spoon the vegetables over all.
      12. Cut into pieces and serve with steamed rice if desired.

From the kitchen of

Deboning Fish

Deboning Fish

Deboning Fish

Veracruz Fish

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