Spicy Coconut Moqueca

When it comes to TV chefs everyone has their favorites. I’m partial to Rachel Ray mostly because it was her easy and accessible style of cooking that prompted me to change my life by cooking my own meals and becoming more conscious of what I put in my body. Of course Rachel’s portion sizes leave something to be desired but I can’t fault her for that. I also love Tyler Florence because he’s all big and Southern and the man can cook! He’s definitely tested my skills as an amateur chef but I do make a few mean dishes thanks to his TV guidance.

But my TV chef crush, if you put a gun to my head, is Anthony Bourdain. That deep voice and the way he uses his words in that Beat Generation cadence…well let’s just say the food he introduces me to from all parts of the globe isn’t the only thing that gets my mouth watering. Given my desire to see as much of the world as I can before these lids shut permanently, it makes sense that I’d flock to this type of food appreciation show now that I am on my own journey to visit far flung regions of the world.

What’s my point, other than giving you way too much information into my Bourdain crush? Well it was an episode of Parts Unknown that inspired me to try out this Moqueca (sounds like MO-Cake-Kah) recipe. Of course I have neither the access to, nor the skill to handle blowfish so I used plain old white fish in my recipe. Specifically I used cod filets which I often have on hand because you’ll never know when a fish & chips craving will strike. Anyway I saw this recipe and I knew I’d have to try it and this is my first attempt.

moqueca 05

The recipe uses all the amazing things about Brazilian cuisine: citrus, fresh flavors, bright colors and spices. I was sold, if a little bummed that it would be a blowfish free Moqueca. So I did everything else I could to make this recipe delicious, namely I used all fresh ingredients. It heightens the flavors so you can taste everything individually and they all blend together beautifully. One note; I did use cherry tomatoes because they don’t lose their skin as easily in the broth and because they are bursting with flavor this time of year. Honestly the Roma and Beefsteak tomatoes were under ripe, too hard and altogether unappealing and the cherries looked and tasted amazing.

In general I liked to use fresh ingredients because I like to know what’s in my food. Of course some people will argue that you don’t know what was used to grow food, which is true. But I buy organic when I can and I rinse the hell out of my food before I start cooking. At least fresh provides the most flavor and gives me the least chance of consuming some unknown chemical. It takes a bit more effort but, food for me is about more than sustenance; it is about experiencing unknown flavors and experimenting with different herbs and spices. And I absolutely LOVE trying food from other regions because most of the world cuisines I have tried have been highly Americanized.

Thanks to my vicarious travels with Anthony B. I can make my own real versions. Well as real as they can get since finding Denbe oil (chili palm oil) in Germany is basically impossible I used my old favorite cold pressed olive oil.

This is a fairly easy recipe to follow but it does require prep time of about 15 minutes.

Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 3 filets White fish
  • 200 g Baby shrimp
  • 1 Red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 Green bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 2 Vidalia onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 Chili pepper, chopped finely and seeded for less heat
  • 4 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups Fish stock
  • 300 ml Coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. Raw coconut oil
  • 2 Limes, juiced
  • 1 ½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper for seasoning
  • 1 ½ cups Jasmine Rice

For the marinade: Cut the limes in half and squeeze the juice of 1 ½ lime into a shallow dish along with salt, pepper and fresh mint. Add fish filets and turn until coated. Cover and let it chill in the fridge until its time to go into the pot.

For the rice: Cook the rice using the normal 2 to 1 ratio (2 parts liquid, 1 part rice). Set aside until it’s time to eat.

how to make moqueca

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat until it begins to shimmer.
  2. Add onions, season lightly and cook about 5 minutes or until they become translucent.
  3. Stir in bell peppers and cook an addition 7 minutes or until they begin to soften.
  4. Add in garlic and chili pepper, cooking for about 3 minutes.
  5. All at once add stock, tomatoes, coconut milk and coconut oil.
  6. Stir and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until sauce begins to reduce.
  7. Add fish, cook 5 minutes then add shrimp for 3 minutes or until warmed through.

I really wanted to enjoy this meal with a traditional Caipirinha, because why have a Brazilian without their national cocktail? Unfortunately I was unable to find the Cachaça but I’m going to try both tequila and vodka variations soon and I’ll put it up with my thoughts.

Since it was a very humid day when I made this dish, I washed it down with an ice cold Guinness extra stout because…if you’re going to drink beer may as well drink good beer!

Moqueca recipe, guinness

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