Sunday, 27 March 2011

SUNDAY SUPPER: MOQUECA

A whiff of the exotic for supper tonight with this robust and flavoursome fish stew from the Bahia region of Brazil. In fact, there are many different versions of this dish around Brazil, and my Google search for a recipe threw up a number of interesting alternatives.  Don't be daunted by the long list of ingredients: it is simple to make, and very tasty.

I have a vague connection to Brazil in that my father is married to a Brazilian woman. However, my interest in Brazilian food began much earlier, in the early 1990s, when we used to go to a rather good cafe-style Brazilian restaurant in Hammersmith called Paulo's. It was there that I first tried palm hearts, fried plantains and Feijoada, a rich and hearty meat stew with black beans. Our meals at Paulo's were also accompanied by Caipirinha cocktails, another Brazilian speciality made with sugar, lime juice and Cahaca, a spirit made from sugar cane (my father always brings me a bottle back from his trips to Sao Paulo), or Batida, a sort of upmarket 'Slush Puppy', a drink made from crushed ice with fruit juice, coconut milk, rum or other spirits. You find batidas on the menu all over South America: I got rather hooked on them when on holiday in Venezuela.


Moqueca

Serves 4-6

Approx 750g grouper, snapper, mahi mahi, salmon, or monkfish, or other firm white fish
250g large prawns (optional)
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 green pepper, sliced thinly
1 large onion, sliced thinly
2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
1 fresh bay leaf
4-5 spring onions, white and green parts, finely chopped
1 bunch of fresh coriander, washed and roughly chopped
2 tsp paprika
1/2 - 1 tsp chilli pepper (or to taste)
400g can of coconut milk

Cut the fish into chunks and marinade in the lime juice and garlic for a few hours.

Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and fry the sliced onions and peppers until soft.  Add the bayleaf, then the tomatoes and cook on a high heat until everything is softened. Add the coconut milk, chilli, paprika, and when all the vegetables are soft, add the fish and prawns (if using) and continue to cook until the fish is done. Garnish with more lime juice, chopped spring onion and plenty of fresh coriander. Serve with plain rice. Sometimes I make a salad of sliced avocadoes and palm hearts to go with this.

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