Moqueca de Peixe (Brazilian Fish Stew)

First, I apologize for the picture. The plate I made was kinda' soupy (that's the way hubby likes it), and as a result, the ingredients weren't highlighted when I took the picture. But trust me, it tastes amazing! I kid you not.

Hubby and I had dinner one night at a Brazilian restaurant called Bossa. He ordered Moqueca de Peixe which is Brazilian Fish Stew, and was so impressed with it that he asked me to cook the same dish at home. Of course, I couldn't duplicate the restaurant's recipe, so I just copied Emeril Lagasse's recipe - with some tweakings, as usual!

And because of the oil spill fiasco, I still don't feel safe eating fresh seafood, so I opted for the next best thing - I bought a frozen one. I used the belly part of a milkfish (safe for consumption - caught in Philippine shores) which is meaty and delicious.

What you need:

  • 1 pound fish, cut into 2-inch squares
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup roughly chopped tomato, plus 1 tomato sliced 1/4 inch rounds, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/8 cup Piri-Piri sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup coconut milk

For the Piri-Piri sauce:
  • 1/2 tbsp + 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/8 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes

What to do:

Prepare the Piri-Piri sauce first. Heat a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and red pepepr flakes, saute for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add lemon juice to the pan and remove from heat. Place the contents of the saute pan in a blender and add salt. Puree. Drizzle the remaining olive oil. Transfer to a container and set aside.

Put the fish in a shallow container. In a blender, combine the chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, 1 teaspoon salt, and the lime juice. Blend until smooth, then pour on top of the fish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to the pan then add the onions. Saute until translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often. Toss in the minced garlic and saute for an additional 30 seconds. Pour the fish (including the marinade) into the pan, add the remaining teaspoon of salt, the Piri-Piri sauce, and the coconut milk. Stir well to combine.

Once the liquid comes to a boil, put the sliced tomatoes on top of the mixture and cover the pan with a lid. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the fish is tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve hot.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Use four pieces finger peppers (seeded) instead of red pepper flakes for the Piri-Piri sauce.
2. Substitute milkfish with red grouper, flounder, escolar, or any white-fleshed fish.
3. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves before serving - adds a kick to the dish!
4. Add or lessen the amount of red pepper flakes according to your heat preference.


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