New Recipe: Halibut & Scallop Vera Cruz

Being located in San Diego, we serve all kinds of fish with our very own Vera Cruz Sauce. The sauce has a base of clam juice and tomato but I put my own twist on the seasonings. The fish and vegetables that we serve with the Vera Cruz sauce are always very popular. You can use any kind of fish for this particular recipe, but it’s best served with rice.


Serves 6

  • 6 6-ounce Halibut Fillets
  • 6 U-10 Dry-Pack Scallops, Split in Half
  • 1 Tbsp. Seasoning Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups Clam Juice
  • ¼ Cup Tomato Paste
  • Chopped Garlic — as much as you like
  • 1 Cup total of chopped Onion, Celery, Red and Green Peppers
  • ½ Cup of Sliced Black Olives and Pimento-Stuffed Green Olives
  • 1 Tbsp. Capers
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • ½ Tbsp. Chipotle Pepper Puree
  • 1 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • Kosher Salt & Fresh-Ground Black Pepper, as needed
  • 4 Cups Steamed Rice


You will want to start by making the Vera Cruz Sauce. This can even be done one day prior to making the fish. The sauce does get better if you let it sit in the fridge over night.

In a saucepan on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, garlic, onion, celery and peppers. Sauté 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 the seasoning level and add as much Kosher salt and black pepper as you like. Remember, the chipotle pepper puree does provide heat and a smokey flavor, so be mindful of how much black pepper you add as it takes time for these heats to infuse to get the real level of heat the sauce will have when it’s all said and done.

The sauce will take 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 reheat over the next few days.

With the sauce done, you can finish the easiest part — 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 heat up the Vera Cruz Sauce.

Take a good, nonstick sauté pan and heat it up over a medium-high setting. Add some olive oil and then sear the halibut. Once browned on both sides, transfer the fish onto a roasting pan and place the halibut in the oven. Let it cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

In the meantime, reheat the sauce and pan-sear the scallops. 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 a decorative drizzle of Vera Cruz Sauce. Serve to your special someone and be a super star!

Chef Steve Black attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1986. His hotel career began at the Sheraton Boston Hotel & Towers in 1984, where he developed his culinary skills working in the five restaurants and catering the private banqu...