The other day I was at the grocery store and they had whole tilapia on sale. Typically, I purchase fillets, but have always felt that tilapia is so mild in flavor that if I cooked it with the bones and skin still intact, the fish flavor would be stronger. Admittedly, I was a little intimidated with the whole fish. But, once I got over the fish eyes looking back at me I was okay.
I’ve always enjoyed white fish prepared Veracruz-style, so I figured I’d try it with the tilapia. The result? The tilapia was moist and flavorful. The fish embraced whole-heartedly the flavors of the tomatoes, capers and green olives. This was an easy dish to prepare. The sauce would work spooned over chicken, salmon or mixed in pasta it is that good. We served our fish over a bed of white rice.
- 3 tablespoons oilve oil, divided
- 3-4 whole tilapia or other white fish
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes with juice
- 1 Anaheim chile, stemmed, seeded and cut into thin strips
- 2 bay leafs
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1/2 cup pitted and halved green olives
- 1/4 cup capers, drained
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a medium saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, Anaheim chile, bay leaf, chili powder, cumin and oregano and bring the pan to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium, cover and let the sauce simmer until the chiles soften, about 6 minutes.
- Uncover the pan, add the olives and capers and cook until the flavors combine, about 4 minutes.
- Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Clean the whole tilapia and season with salt and pepper. Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a baking dish. Pour some of the sauce in the baking dish and lay your fish down. Pour the sauce of the fish. Bake until the fish is heated through about 20 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, discard the bay leaf and serve.