HUACHINANGO A LA VERACRUZANA (Mexican baked whole red snapper with tomatoes, chiles and black olives, for four as a main course, for eight as part of a buffet)
a 4-1/2 pound red snapper, gutted and scaled with head and tail left on
2 teaspoons coarse salt
3 tablespoons lime juice
For the tomato sauce:
3 pounds fresh tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped (or a 28 ounce can plum tomatoes, drained well and chopped)
1/3 cup olive oil
1-1/2 medium onions, finely sliced
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 large bay leaves
1/3 teaspoon oregano
18 pitted green olives
3 tablespoons large capers
3 chiles en escabeche, cut into strips
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons olive oil
chili flowers for garnish (optional, recipe follows)
1. Lightly oil a large, shallow, oven-to-table baking dish. Rinse the fish under cold tap water and pat it dry with paper towels. Prick the flesh of the fish on both sides with a fork (Diana specifies a tin, not a stainless steel, fork), rub in the salt and lime juice, and set it aside to marinate for 2 hours.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 400*.
3. While the fish is marinating, heat 1/3 cup oil and fry the onion and garlic, without browning, until they are soft. Add the tomatoes, with the rest of the ingredients, and cook the sauce over a brisk flame until it is well seasoned and some of the juice has evaporated – about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding an additional salt if desired. When it has finished marinating, pour the sauce over the fish and sprinkle it with 5 tablespoons oil.
4. Bake in the middle of the oven, uncovered, 45 to 55 minutes, or until the fish just flakes. Serve with tortillas and rice.
adapted from Diana Kennedy, The Cuisines of Mexico
To make chili flowers for garnish
Small, fresh green or red chile peppers
1. Wearing rubber gloves, with a very sharp knife slit the peppers lengthwise from the tip end at 6 equal intervals, leaving at least 1 inch of the stem end intact, and scrape out the ribs and seed gently.
2. Let the chiles stand in a bowl of ice and cold water overnight, or until they are curled.