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Crispy Snapper with Vera Cruz Sauce and Rice


  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided

  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander (a palmful)

  • 3 cups chicken stock

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 1 fresh or dry bay leaf

  • 1 hot pepper, such as Serrano, cut in half lengthwise and seeded

  • 1/2 cup white wine (eyeball it)

  • 1 cup seafood stock or clam juice (eyeball it)

  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (15 ounces each)

  • 8-10 large green olives with pimentos, roughly chopped

  • 1 cup fine cornmeal

  • 4 red snapper fillets, skin on (6 ounces each)

  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (a handful)


Place a medium size saucepot over medium-high heat with two turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Once the EVOO is hot, add the rice and stir to coat in the EVOO for about a minute. Season with the salt, pepper and the coriander, then add the chicken stock and bring up to a bubble. Once bubbling, place a lid on the pot, turn the heat down to medium and cook until tender, about 18 minutes. Once you have the rice cooking, start the Vera Cruz sauce: place a medium size saucepot or skillet over medium-high heat with two turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the garlic, onion, bay leaf and hot pepper and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes, until the onions start to get tender. Add the white wine and cook for 1 minute, then add the seafood stock, tomatoes and green olives. Bring up to a bubble, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. While the Vera Cruz sauce is coming up to a simmer, start the crispy snapper: place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with three turns of the pan of EVOO, about 3 tablespoons. While the skillet is heating up, pour the cornmeal into a dish with high sides. Season both sides of the snapper with salt and pepper then dredge the fillets in the cornmeal, pressing the meal onto each side of the fillet to coat them completely and shaking off any excess. When the skillet is hot, place the coated snapper fillets in the skillet skin-side down first. Cook the fillets for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove and discard the bay leaf and pepper halves from the Vera Cruz sauce. Add a quarter of the sauce to the rice and stir. To serve, divide the rice between four plates. Top with a piece of the crispy snapper and some of the remaining sauce. Garnish with the chopped cilantro.