Buttery Brazilian Fish Stew is a take on the classic Brazilian dish “Moqueca.” A coconut milk and seafood stock base is elevated with the addition of onions, garlic, paprika as well as sea bass and shrimp.
So this is my (accidental) spin on the classic Brazilian fish stew “moqueca.” I have literally had “fish stew + coconut milk, seafood stock, fish, shrimp” written on my never-ending list of recipes to make for, well, forever. So last weekend I sat down to finalize the recipes I would be making and I finally decided it was time to cross that one off my list! Well, I start putting my recipe together and I am doing some research, getting inspiration for my photo shoot …. and I keep coming across all these recipes for a fish stew called “moequeca” …… and it included almost all of the same ingredients I had already written down!! Apparently, moqueca is traditionally a coconut milk-based stew/soup with onions, tomatoes and garlic as well as fish and other types of seafood. Ummmm was I a Brazilian in a past life – maybe? I don’t know, but it was the oddest thing. I swear I had never eaten it before, never looked at a recipe for it before…. but apparently I came up with a new dish that was, in fact, very, very old. Sooooo yeah. I rock. And, apparently, so does moqueca.
Well, once I realized that my super-awesome-new-recipe already existed, I took a peak at some of the actual recipes out there for it and discovered a variety of ingredients that people using in addition to the ingredients I already had planned on using. Quite a few included red peppers, palm oil and coriander. I chose not to include these in my recipe. In addition to the ingredients list above, I added paprika, fire-roasted tomatoes, celery and a little bit of red pepper flakes. Additionally, instead of palm oil, I used butter, which result in the broth being even creamier and more savory – and when it combines with the rice….. pure heaven!
If any of you are from Brazil or have had a purely traditional version of this dish – please give us some insight! I would love to hear more about the history of this amazing dish.
You should totally make this this weekend!! Do it 🙂
A few notes:
- I used sea bass for my fish, but you can substitute any white fish. You just want it to be on the firm side, otherwise it will just fall apart. Halibut would be another good alternative.
- I removed the skin before I put the fish in, but in several other recipes I read, some people kept the skin on for flavor. I didn’t want to find any random fish scales in my stew, so I opted to remove it. That is totally your call.
- I seared the fish (in butter, of course) and then put it in at the last minute so it wouldn’t fall apart.
- Don’t go crazy with the lime juice – it only needs a little.
- I actually used sushi rice (without the rice vinegar) and it tasted awesome. I loved the stickiness of the rice and then hearty stew together.
I hope you guys enjoy the photographs – I had so much fun with this shoot! And you have to let me know if you have ever gotten super excited to try a new recipe you made up …. only to realize it already existed….. I can’t be alone in this…..
- 2 cups finely chopped yellow onion
- 6 tablespoons, unsalted butter, divided
- 2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 2 Teaspoons fresh chopped garlic
- 1 and ⅛ Teaspoon salt, divided
- sprinkling of ground black pepper
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 cups seafood stock
- 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 Teaspoon paprika
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 12 shrimp (6 jumbo, 6 regular) uncooked - remove shells and keep for broth
- 1 Tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro
- 1 Teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 1 russet potato, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1⅓ lb sea bass
- In large dutch oven, add 4 Tablespoons butter on medium heat and let melt.
- Add onion.
- Stir somewhat continuously for 2-4 minutes or until onions start to cook down.
- Push onions to the sides of the pan and add garlic in the middle.
- Add grapeseed oil on top of garlic and let it cook until you can start to smell it.
- Then mix garlic and onion together and continue to let it cook down for another minute.
- Add celery, a sprinkling of ground black pepper and ⅛ Teaspoon salt and let that cook down with the garlic and onion, still stirring, for another 2-4 minutes.
- Add seafood stock, tomatoes, coconut milk, paprika, red pepper flakes and 1 Teaspoon salt.
- Take shrimp shells and place in pan with ingredients.
- Cover and let simmer for at least 1 hour, longer if desired.
- Add lime juice and cilantro.
- Get a skillet ready and cut your sea bass into large chunks - season with a little salt and pepper.
- Remove shrimp shells from pot.
- Add potatoes and shrimp and mix.
- Cover and let simmer.
- Meanwhile, you are going to sear your sea bass in two batches. For each batch you will take 1 Tablespoon of butter and place in pan and let melt on med-high heat.
- You are just searing as many sides of the sea bass as possible, you don't have to worry about cooking it all the way through, it will finish cooking in the pot.
- Sear all sea bass chunks and then place in dutch oven.
- Make sure you scrape the bottom of skillet (add a splash of seafood stock to the skillet if you need to loosen it) and then pour into pot.
- Cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Taste and add any additional salt or pepper or red pepper flakes.
- Serve with rice, fresh cilantro and lime wedges.