Looking for an easy fish recipe? Try my easy Tilapia Veracruz. This quick and healthy recipe features a flavorful Mediterranean sauce with tomatoes, olives, and capers.
Confession time. I have a complicated relationship with fish. What I mean is that I love it when someone else cooks it, but I dislike cooking it myself at home.
Maybe it’s the southern in me, but the only way I’ve ever prepared really tasty fish at home is deep frying. You give me a few fish, some cornmeal, grease, and a frying pan, and I’m in business.
Baking, broiling, and stovetop cooking with fish has usually meant disaster for me. It just never quite turned out “right,” you know? It was either overcooked, undercooked, or just plain not good. That is…until this recipe.
This Tilapia Veracruz features a delicious Mexican sauce with onions, tomatoes, and capers. It’s actually one of the few Mexican sauces made without any chilies.
And while an authentic Veracruz recipe is meant for red snapper, I’ve chosen to use tilapia in this one. I’m sure it would be delicious with the red snapper, but that’s not so easily sourced as tilapia. To be honest, tilapia is about as boring a fish as there is, but when combined with this luscious sauce, it becomes something pretty fantastic.
And speaking of the sauce! This sauce is just bursting with flavor. The combination of tomatoes with garlic, olives, capers, and wine puts me in mind of vacationing in some beautiful, sunny Mediterranean location.
💗 Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This extra flavorful sauce elevates any fish
- Super quick for those busy evenings
- The perfect weeknight dinner!
🥘 Ingredients You’ll Need
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- Olive Oil – Use plain olive oil for sauteeing the garlic and tomatoes.
- Minced Fresh Garlic – Garlic is a major aromatic component of this sauce. The recipe calls for one tablespoon (or about 3 garlic cloves minced), but use a bit more if you really like garlic!
- Canned Diced Tomatoes – Be sure to include the juice from the canned tomatoes. My favorite brand is always Hunt’s.
- Stuffed Green Olives – Green manzanilla olives stuffed with pimientos are what’s needed here. Lindsay is a fine brand for any olive product.
- Capers – Capers are one of my favorite ingredients for any Mediterranean style recipe. If you’re wondering what they are, they’re actually the flower bud of a caper bush and grow wild throughout the Mediterranean region. The flavor is something of a cross between olives and lemons.
- Tomato Paste – A little tomato paste helps to enrich the sauce. Contadina is my recommended brand.
- Dry White Wine – If you don’t have white wine on hand, you can always substitute chicken broth.
- Tilapia Fillets – Tilapia is readily available both fresh and frozen in most U.S. supermarkets. You’ll need 1 1/2 pounds.
- Salt and Black Pepper – To taste.
🔪 How to Make Tilapia Veracruz
Make the Veracruz Sauce
- You’ll start by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat. Let it warm for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Then add the minced garlic and diced tomatoes with all their juices. Cook and stir that mixture until the tomatoes start to soften.
- Next, add the olives, capers, tomato paste, and wine. Stir it well, lower the heat a bit and cook it covered for 5 minutes or so.
Add the Fish
- While the sauce simmers, prepare the fish. Dry the fillets with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Add the fillets to the skillet, spooning the sauce over and around each fillet.
- Cover the pan and cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork. and is done throughout (about 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets).
🍽️ How to Serve
I often serve this with tiny red potatoes that have been steamed and tossed in butter, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. A rice pilaf would be very good as well.
🍚 Storage Information
Leftovers should be stored in a closed container in the refrigerator and may be kept for 2-3 days. Reheat in a covered pan over very low heat on the stovetop.
❓ Questions About Tilapia Veracruz
This style of sauce originated in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The cuisine of that region was greatly influenced by both Spain and France.
Yes, you absolutely can use other fish for the recipe. The original recipe from Veracruz is meant to be served over a whole cooked red snapper but it’s really delicious with almost any fish you like.
Frozen tilapia works great in this recipe. Thaw the fish before starting to cook and make sure to pat it as dry as possible before adding it to the pan.
More Questions? I’m happy to help!
If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juices
- ⅓ cup stuffed green olives chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 ½ pounds Tilapia fillets
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes.
- Add the olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes with their juices.
- Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to soften.
- Add the green olives, capers, tomato paste, and wine.
- Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- While the sauce is cooking, season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the fillets to the skillet, spooning some of the sauce over the fish.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
- If using frozen fish, be sure to thaw it before starting to cook, and make sure to pat it as dry as possible before adding it to the pan.
- Leftovers should be stored in a closed container in the refrigerator and may be kept for 2-3 days. Reheat in a covered pan over very low heat on the stovetop.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
— This post was originally published on July 22, 2011. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.