Atún a la Vercruzana: Easy Veracruz-Style Tuna

July 25, 2014

The ubiquitous Veracruz sauce, a classic from Veracruz, Mexico, typically contains garlic, onions, oregano, tomatoes, olives and capers. It traditionally features red snapper, often cooked whole, and is known as Huachinango a la Veracruzana, or Veracruz-Style Red Snapper. Our easy twist on this Spanish-influenced dish features fresh albacore tuna loin that we purchased from our local fish market. You can also use frozen fish, but make sure it's wild, not farmed (healthier for your family and the environment).

Our recipe does not include green olives, but that's simply because we had none on hand!, so feel free to add them. We also left out the spicy jalapeños on behalf of our toddler daughter. But, by all means, add as many as you'd like as they add wonderful flavor to this dish. This recipe is so simple it can be made in just minutes. Serve it with baby yellow potatoes or steamed white rice.

Veracruz-Style Tuna (Atún a la Veracruzana)
Serves 4-6

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, juices reserved
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 small bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons capers, drained
3 pickled jalapeño peppers, finely chopped (optional if you want it less spicy)
Salt and pepper to taste
6 4- to 5-ounce albacore tuna fillets
Lemon zest
Pour juices from the canned tomatoes into a bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and stir 30 seconds. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and cook 1 minute. Add bay leaves, parsley, oregano, and 1/4 cup of the reserved tomato juices. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Add capers, jalapeños and remaining tomato juices.

Simmer until sauce thickens again, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.  

While sauce is cooking, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (or see note below). Add the tuna fillets and cook about 2 minutes on both sides until lightly golden (time will vary according to thickness). Remove from heat and divide among 4-6 plates.

Top with tomato sauce and garnish with freshly grated lemon zest.

*Alternative to cooking fillets in the skillet, you can simply add them to the simmering sauce to cook.