vera cruz gaff to plate
Being located in San Diego, we have always served fish with our own style of Vera Cruz sauce. It’s a clam-juice-and-tomato-based sauce with our own twist on seasonings and vegetables, and it is always very popular. You can use any kind of fish and it is best served with rice. The following recipe serves six.
6 6-ounce halibut fillets
6 U-10 dry-pack scallops, split in half
1 TBSP of your favorite seasoning mix
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 cups clam juice
¼-cup tomato paste
Chopped garlic (as much as you like)
1 cup chopped onion, celery, red and green peppers
½-cup sliced black olives, pimento-stuffed green olives
1 TBSP capers
1 ½ TBSP paprika
1 TSP ground cumin
½ TBSP chipotle pepper puree
1 TSP dried oregano
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper (as needed)
4 cups fresh steamed rice
* Start by making the Vera Cruz sauce. This can be done one day in advance, as the sauce gets better over time. In a Sauce Pan on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, garlic, onion, celery and peppers. Sautee for a few minutes until you get some color on the vegetables. Then add the clam Juice, tomato paste, olives, capers, paprika and chipotle. Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.
* Check for seasoning and add as much kosher salt and black pepper as you like. Remember, the chipotle pepper puree does provide heat and a smoky flavor, so be mindful of how much black pepper you add, as it takes time for these heats to infuse to produce the real level of heat the sauce will have.
* The sauce takes a total of 60 minutes to prepare and, as mentioned, it does get better if you cool it down in an ice bath and then store in the refrigerator to re-heat over the next few days.
* With the sauce done, you can finish the easiest part of cooking the fish. Season the halibut and sea scallops with your favorite seasoning salt mix. Turn on your oven to 350 degrees for 30 minutes in advance. Also, you will need to re-heat the Vera Cruz sauce.
* Take a good, non-stick sautee pan and heat up on medium-high heat. Add some olive oil and sear the halibut first. Once browned on both sides, transfer onto a roasting pan, place in the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
* In the meantime, re-heat the scallops and then pan-sear them. Since the scallops are cut in half, they will cook quickly. When the fish is done, spoon the rice on the plates, top with two scallops and finish off with the Vera Cruz sauce. Serve and be a superstar!