Brazilian Seafood Stew – Moqueca Baiana

When traveling through Rio de Janiero, Brazil, we found that the food was just as colorful as the scenery. You can’t go far without hearing the sound of music or people laughing. And you rarely find people wearing drab colors. This seafood dish, called Moqueca Baiana, lives up to its surroundings with bold flavors and a bright yellow color that it gets from the use of palm oil. Most things here come with rice (in this case spiked with garlic). We were told that in Brazil, the first lesson you learn is to talk, then to walk. Next you learn to dance the Samba, and then to make rice. I am sure that learning to make Moqueca is not far behind.  (The stew is pictured here with banana farofa, a simple side dish made with manioc flour).
  • 2 cups white rice (washed)
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds of deboned white fish fillets (such as tilapia, halibut or snapper) cut into large pieces
  • 1 onion – diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons palm oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fish stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to season

  1. Place the fish is a non-reactive bowl and add the cumin and juice of one lime. Salt and pepper lightly, mix and then set aside in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  2. Place the garlic in a frying pan over medium heat with the olive oil and saute until it is golden brown. Add the rice and saute for about 4 minutes. Add 4 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through (approximately 25 minutes).
  3. Cut the peppers into rings and remove the seeds and white membrane.
  4. Add the palm oil to a fry pan with the onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Now add the fish, stock, tomato paste and the coconut milk. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to heat to a simmer. Simmer until the fish is cooked all the way through (approximately 20 minutes).
  5. Serve with the rice and garnish with fresh lime wedges and cilantro.
  6. In Brazil, this dish is most often accompanied with Farofa, a dish made with by sauteing a diced onion with mandioca powder and then adding sliced bananas. It is also traditionally served with marinated Malagueta peppers. You can find this on most restaurant tables in Brazil. It adds a distinctive and spicy flavor and elevates the dish to match the colorful tropical surrounding of Brazil.

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