Brazilian Fish & Shrimp Stew

I am very lucky cook, pretty much anything I make, Sam eats.  And about 9 times out of 10 he’ll tell me how great it is.  Then the 1 times out of 10, he’ll swear that was the best thing he’s ever eaten.  See, aren’t I lucky?!?

This was one of those 1 out of 10 meals that we both loved.  It had so much flavor, and it wasn’t too fishy.  This is definitely on the list to re-do!

When I picked up the June/July 2012 issue of Saveur, I noticed it had an article about the cuisine in the Amazon by Neide Rigo (the photos were done by James Oseland).  Since I have never been in this part of the world, I was interested to read about what people ate there.  And the pictures looked so delicious, I had to try at least one of the recipes.

The article focuses on the author’s visit to the Brazilian island of Marajó.  The trip alone took her 2 days from São Paulo: she took a flight, a taxi ride, then a 3-hour ferry ride, a car ride through the jungle, and lastly, a barge.  That was one long trip!

Marajó is the largest island surrounded by freshwater, anywhere in the world.  It’s about as big as Switzerland, and it’s located where the Amazon pours into the Atlantic Ocean.  The advantage to the location is that fishermen can catch saltwater or freshwater fish, it all depends on the time of day and the tides.

The islanders were introduced to beef and diary by the Dutch, French and Portuguese colonizers who brought cattle and African slaves with them in the 17th century.  The current cuisine is a result of 400 years of intermarriage of Europeans, Africans, and native Brazilians.

The afternoon that the author arrived on the island, she was served this delicious soup.  We had eaten the soup just plain, per the recipe below.  Neide’s stew was accompanied by sweet plantains, rice, stewed red beans, pickled chiles, a salad of lettuce and tomatoes, cassava and fresh juices to drink (pineapple, papaya, and white soursop).  If I’m ever near the Amazon, I would love to stop by for a visit, until then, I have this soup to savor!

Brazilian Fish & Shrimp Stew (Moqueca)
Adapted from: Saveur (June/July 2012, Number 148, pg 66)

We used tilapia in this recipe, although catfish and halibut were recommended- feel free to swap for any firm-fleshed white fish.  The soup also has a mixture of peppers, but if you prefer bell peppers use those.  Lastly, I used vegetable broth, but if you have fish stock that would be perfect (probably use about 1 cup).

1 1/2 lb tilapia (or catfish, halibut- or any firm white fish), cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 lb shrimp
6 garlic cloves, minced
juice from 2 limes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups mixed chopped peppers (jalapeños, bell peppers, chili, banana)
2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cup light coconut milk (1 can)
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 cups cooked rice

In a large bowl, mix together the fish, shrimp, 6 cloves of garlic, lime juice, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Set aside.

In a large pot heat up the olive oil, and then add the onion.  Cook until the onion is translucent, for about 5 minutes.  Then add the garlic and peppers, cook for another 3 minutes.  Next, stir in the tomatoes and cook until they are broken down, for about 5 minutes.  Add vegetable broth and coconut milk, bring to a boil.

Finally, drain any liquid from the fish and shrimp mixture, and add into the pot.  Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the fish and shrimp are cooked.  Sprinkle in the basil and cilantro, stir well.  Serve over rice.

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4 responses to “Brazilian Fish & Shrimp Stew

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