Tilapia and Shrimp Veracruz

Tilapia and Shrimp Veracruz offers our version of a Mexican classic, seafood cooked in a rich, tomato and chili sauce.  Inspired by veracruzana sauce usually prepared with red snapper, this recipe includes assorted peppers and chilis in the sauce along with tequila and freshly-squeezed lime juice while omitting the olives and capers; it’s definitely zestier than the original.  Always a crowd-pleaser at our house, Tilapia and Shrimp Veracruz never fails to impress with its heady aroma, colorful appearance and wonderful taste.  The sauce can be made ahead of time, kept covered in the pan and reheated just prior to adding the seafood; the finished dish comes together quickly.  Serve Tilapia and Shrimp Veracruz with white rice or Dirty Cauliflower Rice on the side, as pictured, if you are counting carbohydrates; either way, accompany Tilapia and Shrimp Veracruz with a chilled, dry white wine.

Tilapia and Shrimp Veracruz

Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cooking Time Sauce: 45 minutes, Cooking Time Fish: 15 minutes, Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.  Serves 4

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  • 2 Red Bell Peppers
  • 2 Green Bell Peppers
  • 2 Pasilla Chilis
  • 1 large Onion
  • 1 Tb minced Garlic
  • 4 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ¼ tsp coarse Sea Salt
  • 1 Bay Leaf, preferably fresh
  • 1 Tb fresh Oregano leaves or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 Tb ground Cumin
  • ½ tsp ground Allspice
  • ½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Sweet Smoked Paprika
  • Pinch Saffron threads, crumbled
  • 3 Tbs roughly chopped Cilantro leaves, divided into 2 Tbs and 1 Tb
  • 2 cups Mexican-style Hot Chili-Tomato Sauce/Salsa de Chili Fresco*
  • 4 Tbs freshly-squeezed Lime Juice, divided into 2 Tbs and 2 Tbs
  • 4 Tbs Tequila, divided into 2 Tbs and 2 Tbs
  • 1 lb Tilapia fillets
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined Shrimp, 21 – 25 count

Tilapia and Shrimp Veracruz and Dirty Cauliflower Rice


  1. Rinse, de-stem and core the peppers and chilis, peel and trim the onion, slice all into long, thin strips lengthwise and combine in a bowl. Mince the garlic and add to the bowl with the other vegetables.
  2. Add the extra virgin olive oil to a deep, wide frying pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the peppers, chilis, onion and garlic to the pan and saute, uncovered, until the vegetables soften and begin to brown.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, combine the dry seasonings (bay leaf, oregano, cumin, allspice, crushed red pepper flakes, sweet smoked paprika and saffron) and set aside.
  4. Once the vegetables have softened and are beginning to brown, sprinkle the dry seasonings into the pan, stir to mix, lower to a medium heat and continue to saute, uncovered, for a minute or two to allow the seasonings to bloom.
  5. Add the Mexican-style hot chili-tomato sauce/salsa de chili fresco, and two tablespoons each of chopped cilantro leaves, lime juice and tequila to the pan. Stir to mix, cover and simmer for 25 minutes over a medium-low heat.
  6. Place the tilapia filets into the pan, spooning the sauce over them, cover and cook for 10 minutes; then add the shrimp, remaining two tablespoons each of lime juice and tequila, stir gently taking care not to break the tilapia fillets, cover and cook until the shrimp have turned pink.
  7. Remove from the heat, garnish with the remaining chopped cilantro and serve Tilapia and Shrimp Veracruz immediately, with white rice or Dirty Cauliflower Rice on the side.

Tilapia and Shrimp Veracruz


  • Salsa de Chili Fresco is a Mexican-style Hot Chili Tomato Sauce, sold in cans in the Latino foods section of most supermarkets and is also available for purchase online. We recommend El Pato (“The Duck”) brand, which is sold in yellow cans with a picture of a duck on them.

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