I’ve been completely immersed in Olympic coverage the last two weeks. It’s pretty much all I’ve accomplished even with a trip to New York City and several Client meetings. I watch in the morning. I watch at night. I watch late late night. I tape during the day and watch in between. And can I just say, across the board, the ladies are killing it. I’m finding the women’s sports much more exciting than the men’s this go round. Also, throughout the games, I’ve been inspired to cook with a Brazilian flair, making all sorts of dishes that fit the theme. For an Opening Ceremonies party, I made Brazilian cheese bread (pão de queijo) and feijoada that were both very delicious. In the interim I made Coconut Quindim, a lovely and very easy coconut flan and a tropical Fresh Mango Coconut Tea Cake. Then the other night I made this: a coconut milk based fish stew known as moqueta.
I’ve taught a few Brazilian cooking classes and in going through my recipe notes, this one floated to the top. I hadn’t had it in a while and remembered that it was quite delicious. With some really lovely shrimp in the freezer and plenty of events to watch, I thought it time for a reprise. To add along to the stew, I picked up a nice piece of sea bass and some scallops and got started. Onions, peppers, a big mess of cherry tomatoes and some chilies from my garden were sautéed until soft and flavorful. A good measure of coconut milk was added and simmered until rich and flavorful. The seafood was carefully submerged in the rich liquid and poached until tender. The kitchen smelled wonderful.
The resulting stew was smooth and rich, and while not overly spiced as one might expect, it was punctuated with bright flavors and tender bits of fish. With a little rice, it is a delightful meal. Just in time for Closing Ceremonies to get in that one last Brazilian push.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: HURRA! (That’s hooray in Portuguese I’m told.) Brazilian or not, this stew is delicious. It’s also incredibly simple; the whole recipe comes together in about ½ hour. It’s light and fresh and absolutely perfect for these late, dog days of summer. Make a pot, mix up a caipirinha and kick back for the Closing Ceremonies Sunday night. You’ve earned it.
Seven years ago: Gazpacho
Six years ago: Peterson Garden Project: How It Goes
Five years ago: Raspberry Crème Croustilant
Four years ago: Breaking Bread with Emmanuel Hadjiandreou
Three years ago: Quick Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce
Two years ago: Coming Home
Last year: Summer Corn & Tomato Salad
BRAZILIAN FISH STEW (MOQUECA) – adapted from this recipe
While mild white fish and shrimp are most common, feel free to use any combination of fish and shellfish you like, just make sure the fish is mild flavored and firm so it doesn’t flake and disintegrate into the stew. Look for coconut milk in the Asian food aisle but make sure not to buy sweetened coconut milk (such as Coco Lopez) unless you plan on making a round of piña coladas too. Note: my shrimp had their heads on which made from some great photographs and I left the shells on too though the recipe calls for headless, peeled and deveined shrimp.
4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 pound firm white fish fillets (such as sea bass, red snapper or orange roughy), skinned and cut into 1” pieces
½ pound medium scallops
1 ½ cups chopped onion (1 large onion), ½” dice
¾ cup chopped green bell pepper, 1” dice
¾ cup chopped red bell pepper, 1” dice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 small red bird chilies or 1 serrano chili, thinly sliced
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (approx 1 pound)
1 ½ cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped, divided
½ cup green onions, thinly sliced (green & white part), divided
½ pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
kosher salt & ground pepper to taste
- Whisk together the lime juice and 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil in large bowl.
- Add the fish and scallops, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper; stir to coat. Let stand 15 minutes.
- Heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil in large pot over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onion, red and green bell peppers and sauté 5 minutes until onions are translucent.
- Add the garlic, sliced chilies and tomatoes; stir to combine and let simmer on low 5 minutes to let the tomatoes soften.
- Mix in coconut milk, water, half of cilantro and half of green onions (save remaining cilantro and green onions for garnish.)
- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. (You can prepare the stew up to this point 2 days ahead and refrigerate. Bring back up to a simmer before proceeding.)
- Add fish and scallops with the marinade; gently stir and simmer on low until the fish is just opaque in center, about 5 minutes.
- Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Gently nestle in the shrimp – do not over stir or the fish will break up – and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes until just cooked through.
- Taste again and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with remaining cilantro and green onions and serve hot with rice if desired.