Rockfish Vera Cruz

Our many trips to the central California coast always included a dinner at the Salty Pelican in Los Osos.  It was the one restaurant we always experienced.  I loved the dingy that was used for the salad bar...yes, it was that long ago...folks prepared their own salad.  It was positioned toward the front of the restaurant inviting patrons to step in for a great meal.  The one item on the menu that I always ordered was Red Snapper Vera Cruz.  It was beautifully red potatoes, broccoli, a thin slice or two of apple and a spiral of ginger.  We were frequently seated near the crackling fireplace and while we waited for our meal to be prepared, we enjoyed the bottle of wine that came with the dinner.

Times change and about 2000 the Salty Pelican changed hands.  It was never the same.  The updated interior, that occurs with most new owners, was just missing something.  It could never be the cozy Salty Pelican.  The ambiance was gone but we still have wonderful memories of our many meals there.  Most recently we got the urge to recreate the Snapper Vera Cruz.  We had rockfish in the freezer that was included in our box from Sitka Salmon Shares.  I could not think of a better way to enjoy a nice fillet!

I recalled an old cookbook, Morro Bay Friends of the Library (1983), that had the Vera Cruz sauce recipe from the Salty Pelican.  Bingo!  Dinner was in the works.  As I looked at the recipe I decided it needed a bit of a makeover...not much, just a few additions to brighten it up a bit.  (Times do change...)

Rockfish Vera Cruz

adapted from Morro Bay Friends of the Library 

Yield 2-4

2-4 rockfish fillets
2 cups diced fire roasted tomatoes (1 can)
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp vermouth
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp capers
5-6 pickled jalapeños
Dash Tabasco sauce
Dash Worcestershire sauce

Grill, poach or steam fish fillets.

In a saucepan, sauté shallot and garlic for two minutes in olive oil and vermouth.  Add all other ingredients and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve over grilled, poached or steamed white fish.  

Such a simple recipe with a burst of flavor!

Vera Cruz sauce is a fusion of Mexican and Spanish cuisine.  The Mexican tomato salsa is enhanced with ingredients that the Spaniards brought with them:  capers, oregano, and olive oil.   It is a thick sauce which offers many creative cooking opportunities.

And if you happen to have extra sauce leftover, it goes great on grilled chicken breast!


  1. Looks delicious and I believe we have some rockfish as well. Did you use sweet or dry vermouth?

    1. I use dry vermouth. I hope you enjoy it...we really liked this Vera Cruz.


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