Recipe: Salsa-Simmered Fish

updated Feb 3, 2020
Salsa-Simmered Fish
An easy recipe for white fish fillets simmered in tomato sauce on the stovetop and served over rice.


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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

This dinner is a lesson in contrasting textures and flavors. Mild cod’s flaky, fall-apart texture mingles with a bright and tangy tomato salsa’s pleasing chunkiness in every bite. In just five minutes, the two join forces to create a simple, comforting dinner that is so much greater than the sum of its parts.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A 5-Minute Dinner You Can Make Your Own

A jar of salsa is more often thought of a snack with tortilla chips or a condiment for tacos than an ingredient in your kitchen. Let this recipe change that mentality. Here, salsa is used as both a flavorful poaching liquid and sauce for flaky white fish.

What’s so great about this recipe is that it’s really more of a template than a cut-and-dry formula. While tomato salsa is called for here, and I suggest you definitely try it first (a container of fresh salsa from the refrigerated section of your grocery store is particularly nice, but the jarred stuff won’t fail you), you can then have fun experimenting with different types. Tomatillo salsa, chipotle salsa, or even mango or peach salsa would all work well. Pick your favorite and make this quick and easy recipe your own.

Salsa-Simmered Fish

An easy recipe for white fish fillets simmered in tomato sauce on the stovetop and served over rice.

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 4

    (1/2- to 3/4-inch thick) skinless cod fillets (6 ounces each)

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2

    cloves garlic, minced

  • 16 ounces

    tomato salsa (about 2 cups)

  • 1 tablespoon

    red wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons

    finely chopped fresh oregano leaves

  • Cooked rice, for serving (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Meanwhile, pat the fish dry with paper towels. Sprinkle evenly with the cumin, salt, and pepper on both sides. Place the fish in the pan and sear undisturbed for 1 minute. Carefully flip with a flat spatula and sear for 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate and set aside (the fish will not be cooked through at this point).

  2. Add the garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar and use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the salsa.

  3. Return the cod fillets and any accumulated juices to the pan. Simmer uncovered until the fish is opaque and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. If using rice, place in 4 shallow bowls. Place a piece of fish in each bowl and spoon the salsa around it. Sprinkle with the oregano and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Fish substitutions: Any firm-fleshed white fish, like halibut, sea bass, or tilapia, can be used in this recipe.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.